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thinking toward rcf spring semester...

jccohen's picture

sasha, sara, and hayley,

Here are some thoughts about our upcoming semester at rcf:


We’ve talked about running the book group (reading and writing group?) every fri., 1-3 pm, from jan. 24 to may 2.  Anne and jody would be there alternate Fridays, and the other Fridays Hayley (if you’re staying with this-?), sara, and sasha would teach the class.  BUT I just realized in an exchange with Anne that if sara takes our 360, you won’t be available on those alternative Fridays either--?  And this might be a reason to get a (strong!) student from Multicultural Ed…


Anne and I did a brainstorming session via skype yesterday.  We talked some about rafay’s claim (from radical teacher article) that prison ed should be ‘the best of the best,’ not necessarily tailored to prison experience per se, so you’ll see that in the list below we’re not going for prison-related books this round (though of course this is negotiable!).  also we talked about the Larson piece also in radical teacher that focuses on his writing workshop… and came up with these ideas:


We want to focus on themes of agency, and make writing (as a form of agency) a serious part of what we’re doing.  A tentative title for this work:


Taking control of our lives:  reading, writing, transforming


We talked about starting each class with writing, and having some kind of vision/goal about where the writing will go over the semester/at the end.


In terms of readings, here are our thoughts at this point:


Open session on jan. 24:  Use phenomenal women first day – pple could also write poems about themselves

Hand out Dorothy alison’s memoir, two or three things I know for sure

Then House on Mango street (maybe along with a few of her other writings)

Drama?  We have emails out to our theater friends, asking for suggestions…

Persepolis (graphic novel)

Sula by toni Morrison


If we did each of these for 2 weeks, maybe adding a third week for one or two, that’s almost a semester right there…


Megan Sweeney (reading is our window) has another book out:

the story within us –

some parts of this might be good to copy and read together… 



so we’d of course love to hear what you think! Compelling enough to keep the women’s interest and also ambitious enough to push them intellectually?  Too ambitious?  Other ideas welcome! 



Sasha De La Cruz's picture

looking good

Sorry for such a delayed response. But I like how this is looking. Question: so if we get someone from Multi Ed, would this person come in every friday or just the fridays that Sara, Anne and Jody wouldn't be coming? 

I'm liking the syllabus, I've read the poem and House on Mango Street, both great pieces! 

Also, I won't be able to join you all Friday the 24th, I have an interview for a job at 1, but Fridays 1-3 work great for me. 

I think I'm overaly excited for this! 

HSBurke's picture

Also, if it wasn't obvious

Also, if it wasn't obvious from my posts already: Yes, yes! I am staying with this! 

HSBurke's picture

First off, I really, really

First off, I really, really like the course title. It is confident and to the point but also hopeful. Just like we will have to be when it comes to putting this new plan into place and continuing the relationships we've forged at RCF . :) 

I do wonder, though, if "taking control of our lives" sounds too much like the type of self-help or rehabilitative programming that the women are used to? This just stood out to me in light of our interest in not being "tailored to prison experience per se". Maybe I'm just being nit-picky.. 

I'm liking our mini-syllabus so far. It feels very "real". Like we aren't dodging certain subjects or mediums because they are too advanced, but rather giving these women the best of the best. I wonder if there is room for transparency here. Telling the women that this combination of works sounds like something we'd expect to encounter in our own college classes. 

Finally, while I can't contribute any drama ideas, I do remember one of the women asking to read The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (

I was reading the excerpt of two or three things I know for sure and it reminded me a bit of Walls' book, so I thought I'd bring it up again as a potential addition or just a text to keep on the back burner. I've read it and found it extremely enjoyable, very easy to get through.