Literacy with an Attitude: Educating Working-Class Children in Their Own Self-Interest / Edition 2

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A comprehensive update of the classic study that delivers both a passionate plea and strategies for teachers, parents, and community organizers to give working-class children the same type of empowering education and powerful literacy skills that the children of upper- and middle-class people receive.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…provides a review of the best sociology that describes all of the aspects of the stratification of schools … The book is an indispensible source of ideas.” — International Socialist Review

“…this second edition provides a thoughtful analysis of how to change what many recognize as a two-tiered school system that underserves the economically disadvantaged.” — CHOICE

Praise for the First Edition

“Finn’s writing is so personal, passionate, urgent, and he was speaking, not writing, it seemed, directly to me … I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about the failure of schools to educate all our citizens into a powerful democratic discourse.” — John M. Watkins, Anthropology and Education Quarterly

“Finn’s approach is creative and effective … [The book] is … very important and deserves to be read by teachers … by parents, and by concerned citizens.” — LACMF, Literacy across the CurriculuMedia Focus

“This book makes the reader think. It presents a clear account of the history of literacy which on the surface is familiar; however, the author’s ability to define, compare, and contrast empowering education/powerful literacy reframes issues and challenges all complacency. His argument for teaching literacy with an attitude is compelling. It demands evaluation of the status quo and commitment to rethinking schools, literacy definitions, and instructional procedures for children as well as training for preservice and inservice teachers. It suggests productive areas of research that could contribute further understanding of the issues. And, it makes a reader think: What if?” — Mary Anne Doyle, University of Connecticut

Finn (education, State U. of New York at Buffalo) denies the common claim that the poor are not smart enough or are merely too lazy to excel at literacy. Instead, he argues that the poor have commonly received what he calls domesticating education which leads to productive, docile citizens, while the wealthier students get empowering education, allowing them to maintain their positions of power. He draws on his own experiences as a teacher with a working class background to elucidate some differences among classes in communication styles and assumptions, and discusses methods developed by the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire for teaching working class students. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781438428062
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 4/9/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 331
  • Sales rank: 300,243
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick J. Finn is Associate Professor Emeritus of Education at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Finn was named the Robert F. and Augusta Finkelstein Memorial Lecturer for Fall 2008 at Adelphi University. He is the coeditor (with Mary E. Finn) of Teacher Education with an Attitude: Preparing Teachers to Educate Working-Class Students in Their Collective Self-Interest, also published by SUNY Press.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition

1. Title, Author, and Hard-Bitten Schoolteachers

2. A Distinctly Un-American Idea: An Education Appropriate to Their Station

3. Harsh Schools, Big Boys, and the Progressive Solution

4. Oppositional Identity: Identifying “Us” as “Not Them”

5. The Lads

6. Changing Conditions—Entrenched Schools

7. Class, Control, Language, and Literacy

8. Where Literacy “Emerges”

9. Where Children Are Taught to Sit Still and Listen

10. The Last Straw: There’s Literacy, and Then There’s Literacy

11. Literacy with an Attitude

12. Not Quite Making Literacy Dangerous Again

13. Schools and a Square Deal for Working People

14. Citizens’ Rights vs. Social Class and a Free-Market Economy: Acknowledging Conflict and Seeking Equity

15. Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century Heirs to the Corresponding Societies and a New Paradigm for Educating Working-Class Students

16. Teachers Who Agitate: Freirean Motivation in the Classroom

17. Agitating Students and Students Who Agitate

18. Agitating Parents and Parents Who Agitate

19. Scaling Agitation Upward

20. Important Concepts and a Few Lines from Les Miserables


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