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Life-Affirming Acts

Education as Transformation in the Writing Classroom

Hector Vila, Middlebury College

ISBN 978-0-86709-560-9 / 0-86709-560-1 / 2000 / 176pp / Paperback
Imprint: Heinemann
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Grade Level: College - College
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Life-Affirming Acts is a journey into trust—trusting what students know and what teachers and students can produce when they collaborate in nurturing and creative environments. It is a unique and engaging expose of the living, working classroom and one teacher's struggle to help his students reach their spiritual and intellectual potential.

According to Hector Vila, "Teaching and learning are about seeing, really seeing, deeply, penetratingly, and in an environment that nurtures the audacity we require to experience and examine, fail and criticize, and then describe." The fundamental premise of his book is that we are repressing and even rejecting the language of our students, especially in our reliance on staid and even oppressive methods of education.

Vila takes a probing look at his own evolution as a teacher and emerges with fresh insight into how and why pedagogical choices are achieved. What's more, he offers a prescription for change, based upon his own experiences, with solutions and methods for confronting some of our field's most demanding issues:

  • How do we work in crowded, inner-city classrooms where students have disparate learning backgrounds?
  • How do we create learning environments that challenge the negativity inherent in remediation?
  • How do we create curricula that parallel upper-level courses and still ensure that our students feel safe enough to experiment with challenging materials not usually taught in remedial courses?

    Keeping with postmodern sensibilities, Life-Affirming Acts can be read in many different ways. Readers can move cover to cover, experiencing the narrative as a whole, or section by section, focusing on classroom descriptions, the reasons for pedagogical choices, or assignments that they can replicate and use. All in all, readers will be encouraged to join in the journey.

Anecdote of the Rope; Reading the Narrative; Influences and Acknowledgments
I. Conflicts and Longings
Shedding Skins
2. Filling the Circle
3. Out of Life, out of the Past
II. Hidden Voices
"What You Know, I Also Know . . ."
5. Up from Mean Streets: Realism and Learning in a Renaissance Age
III. Complexion and Achievement

In Depth

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Email planningservices@heinemann.com if you would like to contact Hector Vila directly about professional development support.

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