Unpacking the Reading and Writing Prescription: The Right Medicine to Save At-Risk Adolescents in an At-Risk World

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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
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Maureen Hall

Dr. Maureen P. Hall, Assistant Professor of Education, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
N. Dartmouth, Massachusetts, USA

Dr. Maureen P. Hall is an assistant professor in the Education Department at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Dr. Hall is the contact person at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Carnegie Leadership Program, which is supported through the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL).Her current work is a part of the larger conversation and research on Cognitive Affective Learning (CAL) and contemplative practice.

Dr. Robert P. Waxler

Professor of English, Professor of English, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
N. Dartmouth, MA, USA

Dr. Robert Waxler is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Waxler co-founded Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL); Waxler was also co-founder and co-director (for 15 years) of the UMass Dartmouth Center for Jewish Culture. He has published articles on such writers as Blake, Ken Kesey, and Philip Roth, as well as articles on subjects ranging from Jewish culture to communications in the business environment. He has co-authored Success Stories, a pamphlet published by the United States Department of Education. He has co-edited Changing Lives Through Literature (1999), and co-authored Losing Jonathan (1995). Dr. Waxler can be reached at rwaxler@umassd.edu.

Ref: L08P0563