Writing to Survive: How Teachers and Teens Negotiate the Effects of Abuse, Violence, and Disaster

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Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2011 - Education - 269 pages
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"Deborah M. Alvarez's Writing to Survive is a stellar and timely book. In this complex age of radical change it is critical to enable students to survive such `storms' as we have not yet imagined. Professor Alvarez makes a case for the value of expressivist writing in English classrooms, demonstrating what happens when we use the English classroom productively to help our students not only to survive but to thrive by meeting the challenges of an uncertain world---in sum, teaching students to confront increasingly frequent personal, natural, and national disasters with appropriate written tools for expression." ---GABRIELE RICO. professor of English and comparative literature and creative arts, San Jose State University; author of Writing the Natural Way and The Power of Story: Write to Shape Experience

"In this compelling book, Deborah Alvarez demonstrates that high school students not only can but do use writing to navigate the confusing, dangerous, and emotionally and physically challenging experiences that many adolescents endure. Professor Alvarez understands that affective responses that are connected to thinking through language cannot be ignored in the educational process if we want that process to be successful. As she demonstrates with the voices of the young people she researched, the more desperate the situation, the more students need to empower themselves through creative uses of language. Every high school teacher should read this book." ---Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy, author of The Mind's Eye: Image and Memory in Writing About Trauma, coeditor of Writing and Healing: Toward an Informed Practice

In this ethnographic research, Deborah M. Alvarez uncovers the hidden abuses and violence that adolescents deal with each school day and how they use writing as a way to cope. In two different research sites, the author follows adolescents through their academic and personal lives to discover how they use writing to uncover the impact public and private violence has had upon their ability to learn. The author details writing classroom practices and assignments, and reveals how adolescents adapt, reconstruct, and appropriate the lessons of the classroom for their purposes and needs. For the adolescents in the book, writing is a way to address the stresses that plagued them each day, especially when they have no other way to communicate their lived experiences.

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About the author (2011)

Deborah M. Alvarez began her teaching career in Kansas as secondary English language arts teacher. After receiving her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Composition Studies, Deborah now teaches methods and writing courses to future teachers at the University of Delaware while continuing her research in the effects of natural disasters on teacher instruction and adolescent writing.

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