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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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Afterword: Teacher as Transformative Learner (2011)


← 160 | 161 →AFTERWORD

Teacher as Transformative Learner (2011)

Nearly four years had passed since our last Minnesota Westward Bound program was held. During that time we faced great personal changes: Angel moved to Colorado; I had a baby girl and moved to Wisconsin; and Randy died of cancer in August of 2007. Randy’s death impacted staff and students greatly and we all continue to miss him.

Prior to his death, we held a reunion Circle at my home for the 2006 students. The Circle was profoundly powerful for a number of reasons. The first reason was that Randy was very ill. His pain and fatigue posed another disorienting dilemma for all of us, as we grappled with the reality that we only had a brief period of time to share with him; we were all trying to learn how to support and care for him during his time of suffering. During this Circle students and staff were able to tell Randy what he meant to us and offer gratitude to him. Randy soaked it all in and shared wisdom and insights. He provided a model of how to fight cancer with a tenacious spirit of dignity and grace. Students still speak of what they learned about life by observing this. One student said, “He could have been so bitter and become hard, but he didn’t. I always think of that when I have something tough come up in my life.”

Circle was...

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