ERIC Number: ED412536
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
Preconceptions and Misconceptions of Teaching Composition to the Incarcerated.
The prison college classroom exists in an environment cut off from the outside world, where the debate over the prison classroom's very existence is fueled by public perceptions and media-generated ideas. The violent Lucasville riots in Ohio in 1994 are fresh in the minds of the public, and movies like "Shawshank Redemption" and "Natural Born Killers" distort prison life. Certain family patterns emerge, however, among incarcerated individuals: parental violence, sexual exploitation, abandonment, and lack of love; 19% of prisoners have less than an eighth-grade education, 78% did not graduate from high school. Inmates' academic skills may be lower than students in colleges on the outside. While the students have little academic background, they are often eager and responsive. Dialogic education, in which cooperation, unity, and cultural synthesis lead to critical consciousness, finds rich soil in a prison education system. Paulo Freire's liberatory pedagogy may help to understand incarcerated students. In seeking to liberate students, a composition classroom is a place where students come to see the world of oppression and commit themselves to its transformation. Unfortunately, the public will accept vocational/technical training for the incarcerated, but not liberal arts education. In Ohio and other states, since the elimination of Pell funding for prisoners and the tough-on-crime stance of politicians, many voices continue to insist that college programs in prisons be eliminated altogether. (Contains 17 references.) (CR)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A