Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reading Douglass, Establishing Community

Thanks to some generous support, I'm working with a group of incoming SIUE students on a Summer Reading Project. We're covering Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

Each of the students received a free issue of Douglass's book, courtesy of the Student Opportunities for Academic Results (S.O.A.R.) program, directed by Earleen Patterson. The plan is for this summer reading program to empower the participants to:

● Strengthen their academic and intellectual capabilities.

● Become familiar with academic processes prior to the start of classes.

● Build a sense of communal learning with their future classmates.

● Begin developing an understanding of slavery and African American history by reading the work of a most revered ex-slave.

I'm always excited about the possibilities for intellectual growth and scholarly exchange that occurs as a result of these learning community projects. Sure, it's risky interrupting the summer vacations and fun of college students. At the same time though, I'm hoping they'll eventually appreciate it as a worthwhile intervention that will have some important long-term results.

Plus, I'm pleased with the fact that one of their first books from SIUE will be one by our man Douglass. Hard to think of any better book to get young scholars started on their college careers, right?

Once I've gotten permissions from participants, I'll post again with excerpts from some of their initial thoughts reading Douglass.

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