Unsettling Education

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 9.14.39 AM

I’m very excited to say that I have a chapter in a recently published edited collection from Peter Lang entitled “Unsettling Education.” So thrilled to have my work alongside so many other fabulous teacher/scholars. My chapter, “all schooled up: One Teacher’s Path Toward Deschooling,” (pp. 197-216) is a narrative look at my life and work in schools as framed through the lens of Ivan Illich’s unsettling concept of “deschooling.” Please see the above image for a 30%-off discount offer from the publisher (until July 31st). Here’s a book blurb from the publisher and the contents list:

Unsettling Education: Searching for Ethical Footing in a Time of Reform offers a counter-narrative to the prevailing orthodoxies of schooling and school reform that conflate education and learning with that which can be measured on state-mandated examinations. Despite the push to ‘settle” the purposes of teaching and schooling in ways that see education as the teaching of a discrete set of skills that align with standardized exams, there are teachers and students who continue to resist standardization and whose stories suggest there are many ways to organize schools, design curriculum, and understand the purposes of education. Unsettling Education shares stories of how teachers have resisted state and local mandates to teach to the test in dehumanizing ways, how such teachers have sought to de-commodify educational spaces, how they have enacted their ethical commitments to students and communities, and how they have theorized such practices, sometimes even reconsidering their roles as teachers and the very purposes of schooling. Volume contributors offer concrete ways in which teachers might challenge the structures of schooling to reveal the full humanity and potential of students through different forms of resistance pedagogy, institutional critiques, and critical self-reflection. Featuring a wide range of voices and contexts, the collections’ chapters blend story and theory, resulting in a volume both accessible and thought-provoking to varied audiences—from undergraduate students of education and concerned citizens to veteran educators, teacher educators, administrators, and policymakers.


Introduction , Brian Charest/Kate Sjostrom

Section I: The Promise of Unsettling Moments

  • Avi Lessing/Glynis Kinnan: Against Measurement: Making a Case for School Play
  • Angela Whitacre de Resendiz/Will Hudson: Calculating Justice? Using Mathematical Mindsets for Teaching From a Social Justice Perspective
  • Noah Asher Golden: Challenging Misrecognitions Through Reflexive Teacher Education: Knowing and Growing in an Age of Commodification

Section II: Pedagogies of Resistance

  • Sarah J. Donovan: Beyond Mandates and Measurement: Imagining a Gradeless Classroom
  • Matthew Homrich-Knieling/ Alex Corbitt: Pedagogies of Resistance: Reflecting on the Successes and Challenges of Humanizing Classrooms in a Time of Standardization and Accountability
  • Mikela Bjork: Compulsory Heterosexuality: Unsettling and Undoing the Hidden Curriculum of Heteronormativity in Schools

Section III: Unsettling Education Through Institutional Critiques

  • James McCoyne: Managing Teachers: Efficiency and Human Relations in Education
  • Kevin Christopher Carey: Motivation, Mental Health, and the Eclipse of Social Imagination
  • Samantha Young/Deborah Bieler: A Look Into Leaving: Learning From One Equity-Oriented Teacher’s Resignation
  • Russell Mayo: ‘all schooled up’: One Teacher’s Path Toward Deschooling

Epilogue, Jay Gillen: Everyone Knows Whose Side I’m On: Teachers, Students, and the Struggle for Freedom

UIC Graduate College Research Award


I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been awarded the 2018 UIC Graduate College Provost’s Graduate Research Award (PGRA). This competitive award supports graduate students in conducting multi- and inter-disciplinary research beyond the support of their assistantships. My project, entitled “Ivan Illich and the Rhetoric of Deschooling,” intends to research the arguments made by Illich against schooling, as well as others who contributed to and influenced Illich’s influential critique of formal, compulsory education. This award will support my travel to the Penn State University Illich archives in the Spring of 2019, as well as an opportunity to meet with the editors of the International Journal of Illich Studies at PSU. My then intend to present my research, in draft form, with the Ivan Illich SIG’s roundtables at the AERA 2019 Conference in Toronto. The PGRA will help support my travel and accommodations for this research. Thanks to everyone who helped me develop my winning application!

Climate Chance and the Environment at NCTE 2018

I’m proud to have been a part of three important events at NCTE in Houston in mid-November. The first was that I, along with a number of accomplished scholars in the field of English Education concerned with climate change, drafted and submitted a resolution on Climate Change for debate. You can read a complete draft of the original resolution HERE. This draft was submitted in October and significantly revised by the NCTE Resolutions Committee, and their version of the draft was overwhelmingly approved on Friday, Nov. 16th. We are hopefully awaiting final approval by the NCTE Executive Committee in the coming months, and I will update this post soon with details.

Additionally, I presented during a roundtable session on Friday organized by Allen Webb entitled “Teaching Climate Change in English.” CLICK HERE for the wiki-page developed by presenters from the session — see sidebar on the right for pages and notes from each presenter. My talk was entitled “Writing Sustainability: Bridging EcoLiteracy Research and Composition,” about my teaching a freshman composition course around the theme of sustainability. My handout can be found HERE.


The other major climate change-related event I had the pleasure to participate in was that NCTE’s English Language Arts Teacher Educators (ELATE, formerly CEE) formally approved a commission related to Climate Change and English Education. We met on Friday and Saturday and begin drafting a mission statement and action items for the group. Rich Novack (high school teacher in Connecticut and PhD student at Teachers College) and I agreed to co-chair the commission. We also immediately sought a slight name change to “Commission on Climate Change and the Environment in English Education” (or c3e3) in order to expand both the reach and the scope of the commission’s work. As a newly formed commission, we are hoping to make connections across the other ELATE Commissions to show the interrelated nature of the c3e3 approach with social justice, the arts and poetry, digital literacies, young adult literature, and everyday advocacy, just to name a few. More details about c3e3 will be posted here soon!


“The Everyday Anarchism of Peer Tutoring”


My article, “The Everyday Anarchism of Peer Tutoring,” was recently published by The Peer Review, an open-source IWCA publication. In it, I write:

While some might equate the daily chaos and disorder of working in a writing center with anarchy in a pejorative sense of the word, I am working to develop a different lens with which to view literacy learning in informal spaces such as writing centers. What I hope to offer with my application of “everyday anarchism” to the daily work of a seemingly typical university writing center is two-fold. First, I hope to present an account of the radical alternative that many informal pedagogical spaces such as writing centers can offer for critical literacy educators and scholars. Additionally, I hope to illustrate the ubiquity of “everyday” anarchist values and tactics even within our currently contingent, alienated, neoliberal realities. If these values are at play in the daily work of undergraduate peer tutors at a university writing center, where else might we find the anarchist tendencies of spontaneity, cooperation, mutuality in our daily lives? How might we begin to organize ourselves in ways that reject unethical coercion, unwarranted authority, unnecessary competition, illogical hierarchy?

This article appears in TPR’s 2018 special issue “Cultural Rhetorics, Writing Centers, and Relationality: Constellating Stories.” Here’s some more information on this issue of TPR:

In this special issue of The Peer Review, we look at the ways cultural rhetorics can inform writing center practices and research. We have chosen to focus on two specific methods of a cultural rhetorics approach: story and relationships. The following articles draw from and demonstrate these methods in practice with a focus on how culture and knowledge becomes co-constituted within writing center spaces. We have chosen to arrange this issue in three sections, each with a specific focus. The first section demonstrates the ways in which story and relationships become intertwined within a cultural rhetorics methodological frame work. The second section focuses on the impact stories have in understanding research data and the cultures of specific contexts. The third section focuses on relationships and the value building reciprocating relationships has within writing center spaces. Combined, these sections demonstrate the types of contributions cultural rhetorics can bring to writing center theory and practice.