UNLOCKING POTENTIAL: Adapting Prison Pedagogies for University Classes
Because in the United States access to a quality education
is raced and classed, educational opportunities--or rather,
the dearth of them--are linked to imprisonment. Kathryn
Hanson and Deborah Stipek write, “Dropouts are 3.5
times more likely to be arrested than high school
graduates. Nationally, 68 percent of all males in prison do
not have a high school diploma.” Even more strikingly,
Begin to Read reports that 85% of juveniles tried in
juvenile court and over 60% of incarcerated adults are
While providing education to people experiencing incarceration is hardly a panacea
for the vast failures of the U.S. education and justice systems, it can still do immense good.
The recidivism rate of incarcerated individuals in the United States at large is a shocking
67.5%, but the Prison Studies Project finds that individuals who receive educational
opportunities while incarcerated have a recidivism rate that is up to 46% less than
incarcerated individuals who receive no such opportunities. Fortunately, there are dozens
of programs nationwide--such as the Center for Prison Education, the Alabama Prison Arts
+ Education Project, the Bard College Prison Initiative, and the Cornell Prison Education
Program--that provide quality college classes to individuals experiencing incarceration.
These programs adapt and impose the structures of the university onto the space of a
prison, often reimagining and reinventing best practices and pedagogies.
However, too little attention has been paid to the ways in which methods and
pedagogies developed for a prison classroom may in turn be beneficial for traditional
college classrooms. In particular, this panel will consider how pedagogical practices
developed with the literacy issues, trauma, and lack of material resources of prison spaces
in mind can be adapted for the university writing classroom. In particular, this panel will
examine how lessons learned when teaching in prisons can help create more creative, more
empathetic, more accessible, and more relevant college writing classes.
This roundtable seeks 5-10 minute presentations from individuals who have taught
both in prisons and in traditional university classrooms. This roundtable will consider how
pedagogical practices developed with the literacy issues, trauma, and lack of material
resources of prison spaces in mind can be adapted for the university writing classroom.
Please submit through our NEMLA PORTAL https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/18780
This is a hybrid event; participants can give virtual presentations should they wish.