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inquiry proposal

peacock's picture

I've always been really interested in how education can work in "different" environments (and I use different to mean deviating from the norm in some way, or having some special quality that is greatly linked to the way one would perceive/pursue an education there) and spending these last few weeks at my placement has really heightened that interest. There are many factors that need to be considered when working in a place that isn't a "typical" school environment, especially when the students/learners/people receiving the education are also not typical. (Some pop-culture examples I'm thinking of are the movie "Freedom Writers," in which a teacher starts a job at a school that has been recently racially "integrated" and is faced with the challenge of creating a cohesive class made up of students of many different (and often rivalling) backgrounds, and the movie "Precious," in which the main character is sent to an "alternative" school because of the way she struggles in her classes and is met with a tough but clearly social-justice-motivated teacher who supports her.) I'd like to focus specifically on the environment in my placement and how that affects the way one might educate in that space; how does one choose their methods, what does one need to keep in mind about one's own place in the larger structure of society when approaching learners in these "different" environments, what are the goals/aims one might have for these learners, how does one integrate the personal experiences of the learners without having it overshadow one's own educational purposes, etc. It's interesting to me the different connotations that come with these environments and the way that learners may internalize these effects. It can often be easy to take the "typical" classroom setting for granted (for both educators and learners) and I'd like to be able to explore this issue more deeply.


jccohen's picture

teaching in your placement environment


So by your 'placement environment' are you referring specifically to teaching in (women's) prisons?  I think this is a great opportunity for you to pursue this, and one book I'd recommend you look at (and one of the inspirations for our book group) is Reading is My Window by Megan Sweeney.  You also should take take a look at a recent (2013) issue of Radical Teacher that's about teaching in incarcerated spaces.  Those are a few places to start, and there's also a pretty extensive literature out there on this topic.  Consider too what you mean by "the norm" in terms of educational environments, what's different about these "other" spaces, and how this might reflect back onhow we think about "typical' school settings.