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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Colloquium Archive

Todd DeStigter

Name: Todd DeStigter, University of Illinois, Chicago

Presentation Title: "Toward a Dialogic Curriculum and a Ministry of Presence: A Professor's Misadventures in an Urban Alternative High School"

Date: September 29, 2005


In the fall of 2004, English education Professor Todd DeStigter followed up on seven years of tutoring and research to teach a Basic Composition class at a Chicago high school for so-called “at risk” students. The class was, initially, a spectacular failure. In this talk, DeStigter will draw on the work of early American pragmatists like John Dewey, Jane Addams, and William James to reflect on that failure and to describe the evolution of his thinking as he sought to make his teaching methods more responsive to the needs and abilities of his students. More specifically, DeStigter will explore the possibility of abandoning fixed notions of “educational value” in favor of a pedagogical disposition which foregrounds democratic experimentalism, dialogic participation, and a “ministry of presence” that invites writers to collaborate in the service of values they deeply hold to be worthwhile.