"High school was like a penance imposed for some unknown sin. Everything I ever learned that was important was learned outside of school. So I never thought to associate schools with learning." (Amy, UMass Boston student)Today's diverse and financially burdened students enter higher education eager to succeed at institutions originally designed for culturally homogenous and predominantly white middle-class populations. They are expected to learn from faculty trained primarily as researchers. Unsurprisingly, student dropout and faculty burnout rates are high, leading some conservatives to demand that higher education purge itself of "unqualified" students and teachers. But, asAchieving Against the Oddsdemonstrates, new and better solutions emerge once we assume that both faculty and students still possess a mutual potential for learning when they meet in the college classroom.This collection -- drawing on the experiences of faculty at the University of Massachusetts-Boston -- documents a complex and challenging process of pedagogical transformation. The contributors come from a wide range of disciplines -- American studies, anthropology, Asian American studies, English, ESL, history, language, political science, psychology, sociology, and theology. Like their students, they bring a variety of backgrounds into the classroom -- as people of color, women, gays, working class people, and "foreigners" of one sort or another. Together they have engaged in an exciting struggle to devise pedagogies which respond to the needs and life experiences of their students and to draw each of them into a dialogue with the content and methodology of their disciplines. Courageously airing their own mistakes and weaknesses alongside their breakthroughs, they illuminate for the reader a process of teaching transformation by which discipline-trained scholars discover how to promote the learning of diverse students.As one reads their essays, one is struck by how much these faculty have benefited from the insights they have gleaned from colleagues as well as students. Through argument and examples, personal revelation and references as well as students. Through argument and examples, personal revelation and references to authority, they draw the reader into their community. This is a book to inspire and enlighten everyone interested in making higher education more truly democratic, inclusive and intellectually challenging for today's students.
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