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Re-engaging Disconnected Youth

Transformative Learning through Restorative and Social Justice Education – Revised Edition


Amy Vatne Bintliff

As many young adults continue to disengage with learning each day, teachers and administrators struggle to find ways to re-engage secondary students with their schooling and communities. Re-engaging Disconnected Youth profiles a program that succeeds in doing so, one that can serve as a model for others. In a Midwestern alternative school, three teachers built a curriculum around hands-on learning, restorative justice Talking Circles, and multicultural education, in the hopes that it would re-engage and inspire youth. Drawing on Adult Transformative Learning Theory, the book is an in-depth, qualitative study of the ways the program transformed adult and youth perceptions of trust, connections, schooling and human rights. It breaks down stereotypes about youth labeled «at-risk» and provides evidence that it is never too late to become passionate about learning. This new revised edition includes updated research and a chapter exploring the impact of the program on middle school youth.
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I would first like to thank my Westward Bound students. You all shared so much with me both during the program and during the writing of this book. I grew as an educator and human being through our shared experiences and by listening to your voices speak honestly about your lives. I love you all.

To my first dear colleagues, Angel Salathe and Randy Bauer, I owe my gratitude. The collaborative relationships that we have are simply filled with joy, creativity, and passion. Angel, even though miles now separate us, we will continue to partner to create great programs for students. Thank you for your words, insights, and encouragement during this long process. Randy, we miss you. Our community still grieves over the loss of a true environmentalist and passionate educator. I am so grateful that we got to share in those last interviews.

To my new colleagues, Will Howlett, Kami St. Clair, and Kim Walker, I thank you for believing in the program and “going with it” even through the hail, flood, and tornado warnings! Your energy and care for our 8th and 9th grade students is a great gift.

Thank you to the staff and leaders at the alternative school where this project took place. Your support and creativity are amazing!

← ix | x →To Kathy Seipp and the staff at The Advocates for Human Rights —thank you for your time, interviews, and the training that you provide for...

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