TSR Newsletter

TESOLers for Social Responsibility E-Newsletter, Volume 4, Issue 8

by User Not Found | 11/01/2011

In This Issue...

Note From the Editor
Education in Prisons: A Social Responsibility for All
From the Journals
Web Resources on Political Cartoons
From the Bookshelf
Conference Announcement
Toward Paperlessness? A Wrong Turn
About This Member Community

Note From the Editor

George Jacobs, george@vegetarian-society.org

Please consider writing for the TSR E-Newsletter and please consider the following when you do.

Open source is a term from the software field. In that context, it means that:

When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, and people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing (retrieved July 27, 2004 from http://www.opensource.org/).

I'd like to think of the TSR E-Newsletter as another example of open source, as our goal is to share and develop ideas that help students learn English at the same time as they (along with us) work toward a better world. Plus, the fact that this e-newsletter is electronic allows us to replicate the speed with which software developers share ideas.

Thus, when you write for the TSR E-Newsletter, as well as for the TSR e-list, please think about what experiences you can share that will spark others to take the next step to improve on and adapt what you have done, so that their own efforts can be just a bit more successful. In turn, those who have learned from you will share their handiwork, as the members of the TSR and our related communities learn from and inspire each other.

Jane Nagakawa and Rashmi Kumar have dialogued with me on this topic generally and its implications for copyright, more specifically. Seehttp://pitchjournal.org/readarticle?articleid=0010698939068833029 (Rashmi Kumar, August 17, 2004, personal correspondence) for more on this topic. My view is that we in education, and perhaps we in TSR-like areas of education especially, have it easier on the copyright issue, because money (e.g., from royalties), fame, and acknowledgement, though nice to receive, are clearly secondary to our overriding goal of positively impacting the world around us.

Cooperatively yours-George Jacobs

Education in Prisons: A Social Responsibility for All

Burcu Ates, burcuates@neo.tamu.edu, and Zohreh Eslami-Rasekh, zeslami@coe.tamu.edu


This article advocates increased educational opportunities for incarcerated people, including ESL populations in prisons.


Education in prisons is a controversial topic. Should we provide education to people in prisons, or should we deprive them of it because they do not deserve an opportunity? Who is ultimately to blame for these people's incarceration: the people who commit the crimes or society itself?

Prisons in the United States

The United States leads the world in the percentage of the populace that is imprisoned (U.S. prison population largest in world, 2003; Debt to society, 2001). According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2003, 2,078,570 prisoners were held in Federal or State prisons or in local jails. At midyear 2003, there were 4,834 Black male prisoners per 100,000 Black males in prison or jail, compared to 1,778 Hispanic male inmates per 100,000 Hispanic males in prison or jail, and 681 White male inmates per 100,000 White males in prison or jail (Harrison & Karberg, 2004).

The numbers are eye opening. Texas, California, Florida, and New York are the four states with the highest prison populations; they also have the highest populations of minorities or speakers of other languages. Why the high numbers of minorities in prisons? Is it because those in the minority have a tendency to break the law more than the majority, or are minorities excluded from U.S. society to such an extent that they feel left out and, in the end, become involved in criminal acts? We will leave the answer to you.

Education Makes a Difference

What is known is that education makes a difference. For this reason, the first goal of all prison systems should be to reduce the recidivism through education. Studies show that the people who were educated in prison are less likely to break the law and return to prison. Education provides them with greater opportunities for employment. Unemployment becomes a revolving door, which leads the way to prison again. Our responsibility, living in a civilized society where we repeatedly proclaim that education is the key is to support the opportunity for a second chance by education and acceptance of the people reentering society upon their release. If we do not provide education and equal employment opportunities to those previously imprisoned, we only trigger them to commit crimes again, because they feel they have nothing to lose.

The Windham School District (WSD) in the State of Texas is one of largest school districts in the nation to provide education to people in different areas of study. In 2002-2003 it served 83,785 people, 2,601 being English as a Second Language (ESL) students. There were a total of 37 ESL classes in different prison units1 in Texas: a good number it seems, but not enough.

More ESL classes are needed. Seeing the ESL speakers in prisons improve their language proficiency and find jobs because they have learned language skills will not only benefit the individual, but will benefit the society at the same time. In addition to ESL classes, WSD provides other programs, such as literacy, Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI), special education, Changing Habits and Achieving New Goals to Empower Success (CHANGES), and Perspectives and Solutions (PAS) (http://windhamschooldistrict.org/apr.pdf).

The most interesting program is the PAS. The aim of the program is to help students explore cultural diversity, personal identity, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination (including, racial, ethnic, religious, gender, age, sexual orientation, and physical disability). It is especially for people who are in jail due to hate crimes.

For more information about the education of incarcerated people, please visit: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OVAE/AdultEd/OCE/faq.html,http://www.ceanational.org/, or http://adulted.about.com/cs/prisoneducation/a/prison_ed.htm.

Most of the imprisoned people are high school dropouts or those who had no formal education. As educators, we are not to judge why they dropped out of school or had no formal education. Education is a life-long process. As committed educators, we are to provide a new chance if the people are willing to participate. Education should be for everyone regardless of who the learner is.

One ESL Teacher's Experience

Judith Dean, who has been teaching ESL in the Huntsville Unit (also referred to as "The Walls Unit," where all the executions of males in Texas take place) for 10 years, believes that it is different teaching and learning in prisons. The students want to survive, want to keep themselves out of trouble; therefore, they work hard to be able to do that. Outside, in the free world, everyone is in their comfort zone (i.e., home or school). Inside, they have to behave very well. They do not want to be barred from participating in activities outside their cell.

Unlike the stereotypes one might have--that incarcerated students are low-motivated individuals--these students are really motivated. They feel the need to learn. They want to change. They want to embrace and lead a different life when they leave. Half of Dean's students never had any sort of schooling before. Some cannot even read and write in their first language. Yet they are proud and they want to be able to, at least, write and send letters to the outside world independently. Dean says it is rewarding to provide the gift of knowledge.


What we can do as advocates for marginalized members of our society is to volunteer some of our time and expertise to right the wrongs and ills of our society. We have the responsibility to be advocates and promote advocacy for linguistically and culturally diverse groups who have been marginalized. In WSD, there are many dedicated volunteers who are making a difference in the lives of imprisoned people. Our world will become a more peaceful place only when we are able to share responsibility of providing equal and equitable opportunities for all.


1 Although units, which are facilities, are not primarily determined according to the type of felony committed, there are some units that have minimum or maximum security, depending on the nature of the people.


Debt to society. (2001, July 1). MotherJones.com [Special report] [Online]. Retrieved September 2, 2004, fromhttp://www.motherjones.com/news/special_reports/prisons/atlas.html

Harrison, P. M., & Karberg, J. C. (2004). Prison and jail inmates at midyear 2003. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin. Retrieved September 2, 2004, from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/pjim03.pdf

U.S. prison population largest in world. (2003, June 1). The Post and Courier, Charleston.Net, World/Nation [Online]. Retrieved September 2, 2004 fromhttp://www.charleston.net/stories/060103/wor_01jailbirds.shtml

Windham School District annual performance report 2002-2003. (2003). Retrieved September 2, 2004, from http://windhamschooldistrict.org/apr.pdf

Burcu Ates, is a PhD candidate of TESOL at Texas A&M University, in College Station, Texas, in the United States.

Zohreh Eslami-Rasekh is assistant professor of ESL/Multicultural Education at Texas A&M University, in College Station, Texas, in the United States.

From the Journals

The first few articles are from the types of journals that language professionals usually read. The later articles come from journals we may be less likely to browse. If the abstract wets your appetite for the entire article, try accessing the article online from your local library, as many libraries now maintain databases with full-text versions of journals. If that and other means don't work for you, try using the e-mail addresses provided to request a hard copy from the authors.

* Indicates that the abstract was specially written for this compilation
** Indicates that the abstract is from ERIC - askeric.org (Note: AskERIC has been discontinued. The resources at askeric.org have been moved to the Educator's Reference Desk (http://www.eduref.org).

Morris, F. [fmorris@miami.edu], & Tarone, E. (2003). Impact of classroom dynamics on the effectiveness of recasts in second language acquisition.Language Learning53(2), 325-368.

** This study suggests that the social dynamics of the language learning classroom may in some cases dramatically alter the way cognitive processes of attention, or noticing, are deployed in cooperative learning activities in which feedback occurs, and this, in turn, appears to affect acquisition.

O'Byrne, B. J. [bobyrne@marshall.edu] (2003). The paradox of cross-age, multicultural collaboration. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(1), 50-63.

** Considers how teachers can use linguistic diversity for inclusion and learning experiences in collaborative, cross-age literacy projects. Envisions a project that would extend the principles of collaboration across different age groups. Addresses the larger literacy issues that are entwined with cross-age, multicultural collaborative learning experiences.

Nakagawa, J. J. [janenakagawa@yahoo.com] (2004, Spring). A spoonful of sugar... . GALE Newsletter, 6-12. Available online athttp://www.tokyoprogressive.org.uk/gale/newsletters.html

* This report describes EFL courses in Japan that blend cooperative learning, stimulus-based teaching, and pop and rock music containing gender issues themes. It also includes a summary of a teacher training workshop given on the same topic in Tokyo, Japan.

Nakagawa, J. J. [janenakagawa@yahoo.com] (2004). Engaged pedagogy in the foreign language classroom. Journal of Engaged Pedagogy, 3, 71-95.

* In this alternative bilingual (Japanese-English) journal is a report of an EFL approach in Japan that combines cooperative learning with a knowledge of learner differences, student-centered pedagogy, engaged pedagogy, and transformative learning.

Peters, A. J. (2003). Isolation or inclusion: Creating safe spaces for lesbian and gay youth. Families in Society, 84(3), 331-338.

This article demonstrates the use of action research to bring youth and adults together to address homophobia in their community. Two community-based organizations led an action research project, using student surveys, peer-to-peer interviews, student artwork, and artifacts of homophobia in schools. The research found that 94% of the students surveyed hear anti-gay epithets "frequently" or "sometimes" in their schools; 86% of students say that anti-gay harassment is "rarely" or "never" confronted by school officials; and nearly 1 in 10 (9%) students have been physically harassed based on their real or perceived sexual orientation. This project culminated in an intergenerational conference during which participants developed a network to provide ongoing education, advocacy, and youth development around the problem of school-based homophobia.

Varma-Joshi, M. [varma@unb.ca], Baker, C. J., & Tanaka, C. (2004). Names will never hurt me? Harvard Educational Review74(2), 175-208.

In this article, Manju Varma-Joshi, Cynthia Baker, and Connie Tanaka examine the impact of racialized name-calling on a group of 26 "visible minority" youth from New Brunswick, Canada. Through one-on-one interviews and focus groups, the authors compare views held by visible minority students and their parents to the views of White authority figures regarding the significance of racism and racialized name-calling at school. Whereas White authority figures often view name-calling--even that of a racialized nature--as common adolescent behavior, the visible minority participants equate such name-calling with a serious form of harassment and violence. The authors contend that much of the disparity in these views is the result of White authority figures' perception of racialized name-calling as isolated incidents rather than part of a continual pattern of harassment encountered by visible minority students. As a result of this disparity, the authors identify three responses to racism that the youth participants typically enact: splintered universe, spiraling resistance, and disengagement. These responses are often destructive to visible minority students and negatively affect their school experiences. The authors recommend increased attention by school authorities to the everyday racist assaults that visible minority students have to endure.

Rimmerman, A. [rimmer@research.haifa.ac.il], & Herr, S. S. (2004). The power of the powerless. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 15(1), 12-18.

The purpose of this article is to analyze the 1999 strike of people with disabilities in Israel in the context of the emergence of the disability rights movements in Israel and in the United States. In order to reflect on the scope and nature of the strike, descriptive data are presented summarizing the Israeli press coverage, including participants, demands, and political responses. Our major conclusion is that the disability strike in Israel is a powerful demonstration of the disability movement in terms of participation, public recognition, and the demonstrated need to improve benefits. However, the movement is still powerless in mobilizing itself from the status of a disability movement to a disability rights movement.

Gottschall, J. [jgottschall@stlawu.edu]. (2004). Explaining wartime rape. The Journal of Sex Research41(2), 129-136.

In the years since the first reports of mass rapes in the Yugoslavian wars of secession and the genocidal massacres in Rwanda, feminist activists and scholars, human rights organizations, journalists, and social scientists have dedicated unprecedented efforts to document, explain, and seek solutions to the phenomenon of wartime rape. Although contributors to this literature agree on much, there is no consensus on causal factors. This article provides a brief overview of the literature on wartime rape in historical and ethnographical societies and a critical analysis of the four leading explanations for its root causes: the feminist theory, the cultural pathology theory, the strategic rape theory, and the biosocial theory. The article concludes that the biosocial theory is the only one capable of bringing all the phenomena associated with wartime rape into a single explanatory context.

Greene, S. [lsg@uchicago.edu]). (2004). Indigenous people incorporated? Culture as politics, culture as property in pharmaceutical bioprospecting. Current Anthropology, 45(2), 211-238.

The ongoing debate over indigenous claims to intellectual and cultural property reveals a series of indigenous strategies of mobilization that both appropriate from and work against the logic of the market. Of particular significance in this regard are the various indigenous strategies used in contemporary pharmaceutical bioprospecting activities to address claims to traditional medical knowledge as cultural property. This article presents field data on a controversial ethnopharmaceutical project among the Aguaruna of Peru's high forest and offers a comparative analysis of the outcomes with attention to several other cases in and beyond South America. In particular, questions are raised about the forms of legitimating authority in the burgeoning international indigenous movement, the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), researchers, bureaucracies, and corporations in this process, and the dilemmas that emerge from the politicization and privatization of indigenous culture and identity.

Berta-Avila, M. I. [bamargie@csus.edu] (2004). Critical Xicana/Xicano educators: Is it enough to be a person of color? The High School Journal, 87(4),66-79.

Grounded in a Xicona/Xicano framework and critical pedagogy, this study utilizes the methods of participatory research and critical ethnography to understand how Xicanas/Xicanos perceive their role in the classroom when teaching Raza students. This 3-month study focuses on three critical Xicana/Xicano educators who are in the teaching profession to work specifically with Raza students. Using their Xicana/Xicano identity as the central point to understand why and how they teach, the research explores what it means to be a critical Xicana/Xicano educator when teaching is viewed as a political act for social transformation and the emancipation of Raza students. Specifically, through dialogues, observations, and journal entries, the participants and I explore how their teaching for social trans/formation transcends into the classroom. This article focuses on the themes of positionality and agency that emerged from the data collected. These themes are contextualized in relation to student-teacher relationships and curriculum.

Web Resources on Political Cartoons

Compiled by George Jacobs, george@vegetarian-society.org

Humor is a great way to enliven a class, and cartoons are one of the most popular forms of humor. At the same time, understanding the humor of another culture is one of the most difficult aspects of second language learning.

Political cartoons (taking political in the broad sense of the term, to include culture and other areas of life, not just elections and government) may be particularly difficult for ESL students, given all the background information that is often needed.

Despite the difficulties of using political cartoons with ESL students, the rewards may be worth the effort needed to help students understand. Below are some Internet addresses where political cartoons and related resources can be found. Any suggestions for other places to look on the Web?

Z Net (http://www.zmag.org/cartoons/index.cfm): This site is affiliated with Z Magazine. They have a cartoon page, with a topics index, including War, Economics, and Activism.

Slate (http://slate.msn.com): Slate is an online magazine produced by the Microsoft Network (MSN). It includes a regular page on political cartoons that is organized according to topics. Also included is a teacher's guide to teaching with political cartoons.

Doonesbury: Doonesbury is probably the best-known political cartoon in the United States. It can be read online at: http://www.doonesbury.com. The site also has an archive of past Doonesbury cartoons, a straw poll, and other features.

Ted Rall (http://www.ucomics.com/rallcom): Ted Rall is another hard-hitting political cartoonist.

Dr. Seuss Goes to War (http://orpheus.ucsd.edu/speccoll/dspolitic/Frame.htm): Although Dr. Seuss is mostly known for his children's books, many of which are relevant for people of all ages, for 2 years, 1941-1943, he was the chief editorial cartoonist for the long-defunct New York newspaper PM. This Web page from the University of California contains some of his political cartoons from that period. Mainly of historical interest.

Mark Fiore's Animated Cartoons (http://www.markfiore.com/index.html): Mark Fiore is a political cartoonist whose work has appeared in many newspapers and magazines. His cartoons include animation and sound.

Lesson Plans for Political Cartoons (http://www.bvsd.k12.co.us/schools/coalcreek/early/cartoons.html#draw): These four lesson plans are designed for fourth-grade primary school social studies classes in the United States, but they could be used in other contexts.

The next set of 7 lessons was designed from a Freirian perspective to be used by secondary school English classes in New Zealand:http://english.unitecnology.ac.nz/resources/units/cartoon_satire/home.html

NewsMax.Com (http://www.newsmax.com/cartoons): This page offers a range of political opinion, but like much of the Internet and too many of the above addresses, there is a preponderance of U.S.-based content.

CartoonStock (http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/newscartoon.asp): Last, and maybe least, here is a huge collection of cartoons of all sorts.

From the Bookshelf

Lappe, F. M., & Lappe, A. (2002). Hope's edge: The next diet for a small planet. New York: Putnam.

Diet for a Small Planet, published in 1971, taught me two key lessons I had not known before: a) People are dying from malnutrition not because of lack of ability to grow enough food, but because of poor distribution due, to a great extent, to lack of democracy; b) Raising animals for food is a very inefficient way of obtaining our food.

I even tried out some of the book's recipes. Song of India rice was my favorite.

I followed Frances Moore Lappe's career through the founding of Food First (http://www.foodfirst.org) and on to the Center for Living Democracy (I could not find a Web site for the Center) and her book Rediscovering America's Values. In the meantime, she wrote 10th- and 20th-anniversary editions of Diet for a Small Planet.

The book of Lappe's reviewed here, written with daughter Anna, is a 30th-anniversary edition. The two central questions the book asks are:

  1. Why is the world we live in and recreate every day so out of line with the kind of world we desire and need?
  2. Is there hope for a better world?

Five thought traps (p. 23) receive much of the blame for the situation portrayed in Question 1:

  1. "The enemy is scarcity, production is our savior," i.e., to provide sufficient food, jobs, land, etc., we need to find ways to produce more.
  2. "Thank our selfish genes," i.e., the fact that we are selfish by nature has spurred human progress.
  3. "Let the market decide, experts preside."
  4. "Solve by dissection," i.e., big problems are best addressed one piece at a time rather than via a holistic perspective.
  5. "Welcome to the end of history," i.e., corporate global capitalism represents the untoppable zenith of human social organization.

In answer to Question 2, the word hope in the title connects to the stories from around the world told in the book's chapters. In these stories, people escape the five thought traps and build a world closer to their dreams.

As Frances explains to one of her father's neighbors: "[W]e're writing about solutions--the ones emerging all around us. Only we can't see them because they don't fit our expectation, what we're taught to see. We're writing about the unexpected."

Here are some of the unexpected stories and some hyperlinks for finding out about more.

The authors sagely stress that the movements described in the chapters are not meant to be models; they are not by any means perfect. Instead, the stories are meant to be

"just examples of the millions of people worldwide, experimenting, struggling, failing, and succeeding in carving new paths and creating a world in line with their deepest values. The people we met are pushing the edge of possibilities, not asserting that they've reached an endpoint." (pp. 306-307)

Maybe that is what we in TSR, at least on our good days, are trying to do. And the people in the stories did not even necessarily start on their paths with a set goal. As one formerly landless Brazilian farmer stated, "Being successful was never the motivation. We simply didn't have any other options" (p. 71).

Returning to the five thought traps, Frances and Anna propose five liberating perspectives to take their place (p. 283):

  1. "Scrapping the scarcity scare, realizing abundance" - there's enough food, information, good ideas, etc. for all, as long as we share.
  2. "Laughing at the caricature, listening to ourselves" - there's lots of good in us humans, especially when our environment supports cooperation.
  3. "Putting tools in their place, tapping the savvy of citizens" - there's many great tools available, including market mechanisms; these tools should be people's servants not their masters.
  4. "Discarding dissection, solving for pattern" - there's much to be learned from nature's webs; they help us look for and create connections.
  5. "Breaking free from ‘isms,' creating the path as we walk" - there's no gain in fixating on labels, such as capitalism or socialism; capitalism of the right kind can serve humanity.

Spicing up the book's chapters are healthy, vegetarian recipes from around the world, including some from famous restaurants. I recommend the watermelon soup with cashew and peppermint leaves.

In conclusion, if one day you are feeling there is no hope (and/or maybe you are a bit hungry), this book can give you a lift. The book ends with these words from "Candles in Babylon" by the poet Denise Levertov:

We have only begun to imagine the fullness of life.
How could we tire of hope?--so much is in the bud.

Conference Announcement

Title: National MultiCultural Institute's 2004 Fall Conference
Theme: Building Personal and Professional Competence in a Multicultural Society
Dates: November 11-14, 2004
Location: Hyatt Regency Bethesda, One Bethesda Metro Center, Bethesda, MD 20814 USA

Description: 2- and 4-day workshops on multicultural and diversity issues including:

  • Institutionalizing Multicultural Education in Your School and School System
  • Training of Diversity Trainers (Levels I and II)
  • The Immigrant Experience in Our Schools
  • Designing and Implementing Diversity Initiatives
  • Workplace Diversity and Organizational Development
  • Sustaining Organizational Change
  • Building Cultural Competency
  • Becoming Effective Cultural Allies

Purpose: NMCI's conferences bring together practitioners from across the country and around the world to explore diversity and multiculturalism in personal and professional contexts.

Contact Info:
Tel: 202-483-0700, ext. 232
Fax: 202-483-5233
E-mail: nmci@nmci.org
Web: http://www.nmci.org

Toward Paperlessness? A Wrong Turn

Rather than computers moving us toward paperlessness, they seem to be giving us more texts to print more easily, thus, providing more "reasons" and ways to kill more trees. That's according to E/The Envrionment Magazine of 6 June 2004: http://www.emagazine.com/view/?1818.

So, please do NOT print out this newsletter or any part thereof. Please thank TESOL for their steps toward paperlessness, please choose all the paperless options offered, and please urge TESOL to offer 100% paperless membership.