2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
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No Holds Barred

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No Holds Barred

Oral Histories, from Horizon Academy, Rikers Island

 "I had all the bad role models, people who been locked up, people who got shot, people who shot people, that's who I respect."

Those words, written by a young gang member, typify the clear-eyed but fatalistic worldview found in Killing the Sky: Oral Histories from Horizon Academy, Rikers Island. Published in May by TC's Student Press Initiative (SPI), the book "gave six incarcerated young men the opportunity to share their lived experiences in printed form," says Erick Gordon, SPI Director and Curriculum Consultant.

Over a series of months, SPI staff audio-taped interviews with the men. The inmates then collaborated with SPI to edit and shape the transcripts of their own histories.

 The project represents new ground for SPI, which typically works with students in more traditional classroom settings. "We are deeply committed to supporting teachers in creating publication venues through which students can demonstrate and share their learning," says Professor Ruth Vinz, who sponsors SPI through TC's Morse Center for the Professional Education of Teachers.


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