As many young adults continue to disengage with learning each day, teachers and administrators struggle to find programming that re-engages secondary students with their schooling and communities. This book profiles one program that succeeds in doing so, and should serve as a model for others. In a Midwestern alternative school, three teachers built a curriculum around hands-on learning, restorative justice Talking Circles, and multicultural education, in the hopes that it would re-engage and inspire youth. Drawing on adult transformative learning theory, this book is an in-depth, qualitative study of the ways the program transformed adult and youth perceptions of trust, connections, schooling, and human rights. This book breaks down stereotypes about youth labeled «at-risk» and provides evidence that it is never too late to become passionate about learning.
"In 'Re-engaging Disconnected Youth', Amy Vatne Bintliff achieves that for which many in the education world are desperate: a seamless, integrated marriage of research-informed theory and on-the-ground, practical application. Writing from the trenches, opening space for the voices of her students, she offers an instructive series of snapshots of progressive, student-centered learning in action. In her vivid descriptions and her students' insightful reactions we find clear evidence that one does not need to water down transformative learning; that students will respond to high expectations; that restorative justice and multicultural education can be - must be - at the heart of authentically engaged learning." (Paul Gorski, Assistant Professor, Integrative Studies, George Mason University; Founder of 'EdChange') "Amy Vatne Bintliff has written a compelling description of the application of service learning and restorative principles, underscoring educational theory with the voices of youth and her fellow teachers. She provides ample evidence that the use of Circle in the curriculum, as a way to teach as well as to address conflict or harm, enhanced the educational process. More importantly, Circle helped the students and their teachers connect personally and professionally, providing for many of the students a safe and supportive learning environment such as they had never before experienced. The book is a great read, as Vatne Bintliff combines theory and story in a persuasive and clear way." (Nancy Riestenberg, Prevention Specialist, Minnesota Department of Education) "This book is an inspiring exploration of how teachers can build relationships with students that foster intellectual awakening and emotional growth. Disconnection and disengagement are all too common experiences, especially among marginalized and disadvantaged students. Amy Vatne Bintliff lovingly narrates a holistic journey of transformative education that deeply touches both students and teachers. The book offers a powerful illustration of the practical use of Circles in the student-teacher relationship. Vatne Bintliff's honest and penetrating reflections offer insight and guidance to teachers as they struggle to be emotionally aware and present with students. Above all, this book reminds us that a sense of community, trust, and connection are an essential foundation for a social justice curriculum." (Carolyn Boyes-Watson, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Restorative Justice, Suffolk University; Author of 'Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth') "Stories connect us, and this compelling story delivers insight into the power of relationships, reflection, and generative questions. In the NCLB world of tests and accountability we have forgotten the human connections and the mystery of learning that is at the heart of real teaching and learning. This book is a reminder of the potent learning that occurs when we focus on building a safe, supportive, challenging community. Many schools talk about transformational learning, but this powerful story gives specific examples of transformation in action. The three R's of reflections, relationships, and relativity provide glimpses of the way community and caring create powerful learning opportunities. Learning can't be compartmentalized - we learn through our emotions, our intellect, and our souls. We teach the whole person." (Ron Petrich, Education Professor, Courage to Teach Facilitator, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota)