Too Scared to Learn: Women, Violence, and Education

Too Scared to Learn: Women, Violence, and Education

Too Scared to Learn: Women, Violence, and Education

Too Scared to Learn: Women, Violence, and Education

Synopsis

Too Scared to Learn explores the impact of women's experiences of violence on their learning, and proposes radical changes to educational programs through connecting therapeutic and educational discourses. Little attention has previously been paid to the impact of violence on learning. A large percentage of women who come to adult literacy programs have experienced, or are currently experiencing, violence in their lives. This experience of violence negatively affects their ability to improve their literacy skills. Literacy programs and other educational programs have not integrated this reality into their work. This book builds on extensive research that revealed the wide range of impacts violence has on adult literacy learning. Interviews with counselors and therapists, literacy learners, and educators working in different situations, and a wide range of theoretical and experiential literature, form the basis of the analysis. Educators are offered information to support reconceptualizing programs and practices and making concrete changes that will enable women to learn more effectively. The book makes clear that without an acknowledgment of the impact of violence on learning, women, rather than getting a chance to succeed and improve their literacy skills, get only a chance to fail, confirming to themselves that they really cannot learn. Essential reading for literacy and adult education practitioners, teachers of English as a second language, and education theorists, Too Scared to Learn explores the intersection among trauma, psychological theory, and pedagogy. The book is filled with a wealth of practical ideas, possibilities, and thoughts about what practitioners might do differently in classrooms and educational institutions if we begin to think differently about violence.

Excerpt

Too Scared to Learn is directed primarily at educators. It is based on my belief that educators and the education system must recognize the impact of women's and girls' experience of violence on their attempts to learn. This belief comes out of many years of work -- as a practitioner and researcher/writer -- in the field of adult literacy and job training. Although the research and practice that inform this book are drawn primarily from work with adult literacy learners, the implications are much broader -- extending to girls' experiences of learning and all other settings in which adult women endeavor to learn.

Extensive research forms the basis of this book. I interviewed counselors and therapists, literacy learners, and educators working in different situations and read a wide range of theoretical and experiential publications. My purpose was to begin to build a bridge between therapeutic and educational discourses to encourage greater exchange of knowledge between the two fields and to contribute to the development of new discourses and practices that reconceptualize the intersection between violence and learning. Reconceptualization is crucial because previous understandings have pathologized learners and minimized the problem, rather than recognize the need to develop educational practices that facilitate learning for all.

I talked to an enormous number of people in each region of Canada, yet know that learners, practitioners, and counselors in other locations could have added further insights. I continued the research through conversations, in person and on e-mail, with practitioners based in Canada, the United States, and Australia sparked by an online seminar, workshops, presentations, and my requests for permission to quote. All these interactions . . .

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