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Life in a Crowded Place

Life in a Crowded Place

Making a Learning Community

By Ralph Peterson

In Life in a Crowded Place, Ralph Peterson helps teachers see what it is they do when they bring students together to make a community, and how that community functions to influence the quality of learning and life.

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Full Description

    This book is not only for classroom teachers, but for school staffs to read and discuss together so as to build whole, caring schools.
    —Whole Language Teachers Association

No one will deny that life in classrooms is an intense social experience. Crowded together with students for six or more hours a day in a space no bigger than a large living room, the immediate response of most teachers is to maintain control and enforce obedience. But creating a community—bringing students together and keeping them together—is the most vital aspect of a teacher's work. Without it, real learning cannot take place, as even the soundest philosophies and techniques amount to little without a community to bring them to life. The concept of community in the classroom is certainly not new, but little has been said about what makes up a community, how it is created, and what functions it fulfills.

In Life in a Crowded Place, Ralph Peterson helps teachers see what it is they do when they bring students together to make a community. The hope here is to show teachers what is going on—to identify and name—so that they can exercise greater control over their work and understand the kind of learning community they are making (or need to make) and how that community functions to influence the quality of learning and life in elementary and middle school.

Readers of this book will:

  • acquire language for identifying and understanding the community-making aspect of their work
  • identify ways they can work with their students to make a learning community
  • initiate teaching and learning that is centered in critique and dialogue
  • gain an understanding of the importance of the social in learning and the benefit of community.

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Contents

Contents:
I. Making a Caring Place 1.
Ceremony, Ritual, and Rite 2. Celebration 3. Conversation 4. Play 5. Routines and Jobs 6. Residency II. Making Sense of Experience 7. Putting Language to Work 8. Parading: Leading and Following 9. Critique: Discriminating Among Values 10. Dialogue: Uniting Critique and Inquiry III. Making Learning Communities 11. Authority: Empowering Students 12. Life Activities