I invite you to watch the short TedX Talk by Karyn-Lynn Fisette, Education in Prisons. As a new corrections instructor, she recieved her first class list and then Googled all of her students. Her presentation highlights the difference between what she learned about each student and the experience she had in the classroom. One of the most powerful lines from her presentation was that students need "The ability to imagine themselves when they get out".
Her presentation is uplifiting with a call to action about reimagining our communities and our instutitions. Do you echo her thoughts? I'd like to create this discussion thread to provide a space to talk about our experiences in the classroom.
I'm looking forward to an active dialogue so please consider sharing your ideas, experiences, difficulties, and successes.
I agree with the call to reimagine our communities and institutions. For that reason I am a representative on the Pima County Reentry Coalition (Tucson, Az). I also supervise the Education Services for the Adult Probation Department within the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County. I have seen people making great strides in improving their lives, completing GED's, some going onto college or other post-secondary studies. I have also witnessed the malevolent side of offering an opportunity as bad as a person I recommended to a post-secondary certificate program who was rearrested with almost 200 child pornography images on three USB drives he wasn't supposed to own.
I have seen rude behavior to our teachers by reluctant probationers forced to attend ABE classes and I've seen people who really are changing their lives for the better even if it takes three Periods of Participation to finally figure it out.
Nothing in this world is all one way or the other. People who commit violent crimes can in fact become community leaders worthy of our trust and support, I could name several off the top of my head who I work with monthly. People who committed minor crimes can continue to commit crime and escalate their offenses over time, it wouldn't take long for me to recall several from just the last four plus years in this position alone. It is about individuals and giving them the opportunity to move forward in second, third and fourth chances. But by contrast, Maya Angelou was wise to say, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." It takes care, time and a lot patience to help someone who really wants to change and simply doesn't know how. They're hard to find, but worth the effort.