The Love of Art in Correctional Education—Endless Possibilities for Critical Literacy

This article explores how art in its many forms can be used in correctional education. 

Susanne Gardner
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Maryland Correctional Institution at Jessup (MCI-J)
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages

Finding out what students enjoy most, and designing a teaching curriculum to include those enjoyable activities, is the key to motivation and learning in a nontraditional educational environment. At the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, ESL students love art expression in any form, thus, the instructor is determined to use it as a teaching tool in the classroom. Art expression integrated into the state content standards for adult ESL has allowed minority language students to shine as artists in their own right. It also allows the instructor to connect with students who have dropped out, never attended, or had negative experiences with traditional pedagogy. This connection and artistic expression has provided the needed incentive for critical literacy and academic success.

What the experts say

This is more useful for somewhat experienced practitioners as it draws on useful research and resources but also assumes a certain level of knowledge about teaching and language/literacy devlopment on the part of the reader.

Correctional educators are often constrained by limited resources, which can impact a teacher’s ability to provide creative and relevant instruction. This article provides an example of one teacher’s approach to English as a Second Language instruction that allows incarcerated learners to creatively connect school-learning with their cultures and interests. The article is both inspirational and practical.

This article is an interesting read of a teacher's use of art expression to engage students in the ESL classroom.  It gives several pedagogical examples of interesting incorporation of art into language learning, but does not provide research based evidence of student improvement/language skill gains and measures that result from the incorporation of these techniques in the classroom. It also fails to connect the use of art expression to state content standards in adult ESL.

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