The 10-year Subversive, Metaphysical, And Sometimes Controversial History of Teaching a Book Called Push

Kenneth DiMaggio
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What makes one particular book work for adult, non-traditional, Community College students? The novel Pushs by the African-American author Sapphire has engaged my students since 1997. Over a 10-year period, this novel has evolved into a spoke for social change; both within the classroom and the community. The text, (whose landscape is an alternative classroom for illiterate, homeless, and or sexually abused young women of color) has served as a model for moving away from a traditional classroom based on what Brazilian author Paulo Friere calls "The Banking Concept" of education, and more towards a classroom where teacher and students come together in a shared community, to solve a problem significant to that community. (As the classroom does in Push.) Now in my 10th year of teaching this book, this text which has started its "classroom life" as an outsider, has now become a respectable and even "wise elder" among my other texts. How such a book went through various outsider and controversial "life stages" to reach this eminent position, will be examined in this presentation and paper.

Keywords: Push, Novel, Social Change, Pedagogy
Stream: Educational Resources and Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , 10-year Subversive, Metaphysical, And Sometimes Controversial History Of Teaching A Book Called Push, The

Kenneth DiMaggio

Assistant Professor of Humanities, Humanities, Capital Community College
Hartford, Connecticut, USA

I am an Assistant Professor of Humanities at Capital Community College in Hartford Connecticut. CCC is an urban community college where students are often reading at a level that is below traditional college course work, thus making literacy a prime issue that constantly needs to be addressed. As a teacher of Literature and Writing, I am constantly looking for texts to help address the above issue, and the novel Push has been one of my most successful texts. Besides finding new ways to address literacy issues, I am also looking at how to create non-traditional models of writing instruction for the classroom. I have recently been awared a fellowship for Connecticut Community College instructors to do research at Yale University, with the focus on finding a way to internationalize your curriculum. I am presently doing research on a Madagascar-based exhumanation ceremony known as "Famadihana" and how it creates a discourse between the living and the dead. I am trying to use this model as a way to create a written discourse for students to relate their present with a past that often seen as a foreign or even hostile subject.

Ref: B07P0032