Wednesday, July 13, 2016

My 25th Anniversary of Bread Loaf, Dixie Goswami, and James Britton

In some ways it's like yesterday, sitting in the barn classroom at Middleburg College's Bread Loaf School of English. I remember starting grad school in 1991 and being assigned The Word for Teaching is Learning: Essays for James Britton (Lightfoot & Martin, Eds.). I sat on the side porch of my Rumford home reading this dense academic text. The introduction by Nancy Martin, Mr. Britton's long-time colleague, had me feeling both scholarly and profoundly uninformed. Vygotsky, Courtney Cazden, Peter Medway... "teacher as listener," "the learner's view of the real world matters," "being told is the opposite of finding out": these people and ideas got my mind whirling. It hasn't stopped.

At 83 years old, Mr. Britton taught our class "Coming to Know Your Classroom" with Dixie Goswami, a Clemson University writing teacher and public school advocate. This would be Mr. Britton's last class in America. He died two years later.

I'm sure I'll write more about Mr. Britton and Dixie. For now, I'm sharing a chapter from "The Word" written by Courtney Cazden, a Harvard professor who spoke to us on The Mountain. This chapter goes to a colleague here at UMaine who's working on a similar project connected with Vygotsy's ZPD. From her talk, Cazden made me think in new ways about revision; in this chapter, "Social Interaction as Scaffold," she asks us to think about learning and teaching, students and teachers. 


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