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Larson’s Essay on Teaching in Prison Published


Doran Larson
Doran Larson

An article by Doran Larson, the Walcott-Bartlett Chair of Ethics and Christian Evidences and Professor of Literature and Creative Writing, was recently published as a chapter in Routledge’s Critical Perspectives in Teaching in Prison.

In “Repairing the Generations: Prison Higher Education as Historical Reparations,” Larson says that “funding higher education in prisons focuses historical reparations for slavery (and other anti-Black racist practices) in ways that meet the requirements for legal ‘standing’ to demand such reparations.”

He contends that this funding benefits not only descendants of slavery but also those groups affected by other apartheid-like social practices.

According to Larson, “Socially dis-equalizing practices have historically, as they do today, concentrated select populations inside prisons: poor white, Latinx, Native, gender non-conforming people, etc.  Reparative education, moreover, does not take from some to give to others; it benefits investors at a ratio of $5 for every $1 committed.”

Critical Perspectives in Teaching in Prison, edited by Rebecca Ginsburg of the University of Illinois, includes essays by prison instructors as well as incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students. The publisher’s description of the book notes that “the lessons of this volume will not only support readers in becoming more thoughtful prison educators and program administrators, but also in becoming better teachers who can employ critical, democratic pedagogy in a range of contexts.”

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