Unpacking the Reading and Writing Prescription: The Right Medicine to Save At-Risk Adolescents in an At-Risk World
This paper builds on previous work done in an existing urban literacy program, one in which we have tried to “build a new neighborhood.” This work reflects on the cognitive-affective dimensions of reading, discussing, and writing about good literature with adolescents. It explores the theoretical connections between and among contemplative practices in education, psychological and neurological aspects of the reading brain, bibliotherapy, and emotional intelligence. In an effort to improve upon our existing work, we have created three new teaching modules for use in the urban middle school English classroom. These modules involve the work of T. Coraghessan Boyle, Russell Banks, and Joyce Carol Oates. Each teaching module centers on testing some new approaches for reading, discussing, and writing about literature; these approaches connect theory with practice and privilege the development of emotional intelligence, self-reflection, and cognitive affection dimensions in the making of personal meaning. Reading and writing are always multidimensional and involve a journey; the journey is the movement through the reading, writing, and discussing, which always becomes an exploration into the self. These opportunities for journeying can engage at-risk adolescents with good literature as contemplative practice. This expedition has the power to heal wounds, chart new territories of interest for disengaged students, and ignite passion for locating themselves in the world and living fuller and more productive lives.
Keywords: Cognitive Affective Learning, The Reading Brain, Emotional Intelligence, Reading, Writing, Discussion, Bibliotherapy, Adolescents
Dr. Maureen Hall
Dr. Maureen P. Hall, Assistant Professor of Education, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Dr. Robert P. Waxler
Professor of English, Professor of English, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth