Synopses & Reviews
"Is it possible to teach English so that people stop killing each other?"
When a professor dropped this question into a colloquium for young college teachers in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, most people shuffled their feet. For Mary Rose O'Reilley, it was a question that would not go away; The Peaceable Classroom records one attempt to answer it. Out of her own experience, primarily as a college English teacher, she writes about certain moral connections between school and the outside world, making clear that the kind of environment created in the classroom determines a whole series of choices students make in the future, especially about issues of peace and justice.
Animated throughout by the spirit of the personal essayist, The Peaceable Classroom first defines a pedagogy of nonviolence and then analyzes certain contemporary approaches to rhetoric and literary studies in light of nonviolent theory. The pedagogy of Ken Macrorie, Peter Elbow, and the National Writing Project is examined. The author emphasizes that many techniques taken for granted in contemporary writing pedagogy — such as freewriting and journaling — are not just educational fads, but rather ways of shaping a different human being. "Finding voice," then, is not only an aspect of writing process, but a spiritual event as well. To find voice, and to mediate personal voice in a community of others, is one of the central dialectics of the peaceable classroom.
The author urges teachers to foster critical encounters with the intellectual and spiritual traditions of humankind and to reclaim the revolutionary power of literature to change things.
The Peaceable Classroom first defines a pedagogy of nonviolence and then analyzes certain contemporary approaches to rhetoric and literary studies in light of nonviolent theory.
About the Author
Mary Rose O'Reilley teaches English at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received her B.A. from the College of St. Catherine and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She completed certification in the two-year spiritual guidance program of the Shalem Institute and took Buddhist precepts as a lay practitioner at Plum Village, Duras, France. Mary combines teaching with contemplative education in the Christian and Buddhist traditions and has received an ACLS Contemplative Studies Fellowship as well as numerous other awards for teaching and writing.