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Education From the Inside Out: A Plea for Prison Education

By Baz Dreisinger

In a decade of teaching, I have approached many a semester’s end wistfully: another goodbye to students I have, week after week, intellectually bonded with. But this semester, wistful feels more like the blues.

I am soon to be exiled from pedagogical heaven: an English 101 class so academically voracious, they rendered my job effortless. My students not only read the material and took extensive notes on it, they read material weeks before I’d assigned it. They arrived armed with studied opinions about each text and page numbers containing relevant passages to shore up these opinions; they begged me for additional grammar worksheets and requested feedback on work they’d assigned themselves. When we read one particular Ralph Ellison essay, they groaned about how many times the piece had driven them to the dictionary, and I held back tears of joy: Oh for a roomful of students who studiously look up words they don’t understand!

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