A Soft Approach to Hard Teaching

Authored by: Avi Lessing

Handbook of Social Justice in Education

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805859270
eBook ISBN: 9780203887745
Adobe ISBN: 9781135596149


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By my second year of teaching, my theater classes that met on the old, raised stage at Dawson High, a school north of Chicago, were packed, and sometimes the auditorium filled with visitors as well. Visitors consisted of other students who either wanted to watch my class or to miss their own. When the classes functioned, kids did credible work that went beyond acting. One student, Lily, said to me, “In your class people can be themselves, it’s like a home.” My belief that students should be themselves had drawbacks too. In my afternoon acting class, on a Friday in the dead of winter, Antonio LeBlanc mooned me and I, enraged, charged after him down a series of hallways. Later, he and I ended up in a meeting with the dean and his parents in The Office. In my first year of teaching, I had the strange feeling that it was not Antonio who was in trouble, but me.

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