The Learning Based Correctional Facility

1408 Words Nov 1st, 2016 6 Pages
I taught inmates how to read using cuss words. As a literacy tutor in a community based correctional facility early in my career, I found that most of my students could not write their names or recite the alphabet. Yet somehow they could all spell expletives. Unconventional though it was, I used this epiphany to my advantage in teaching my students how to read and spell. If you can spell and read “F*&$!”, then by golly you can read and spell “truck”, “duck” and “luck”.
While this story readily receives chuckles each time I share it, the underlying cause of this effect was absolutely unfunny. Sadly, these men had more often been exposed to swear words then they had reading and writing. As I got to know my students better, I found nearly all had grown up in poverty; they dropped out of school; grew up without a nuclear family; frequently had serious problems with alcohol and or drugs that started in adolescence and; they suffered from mental illness. I came to the conclusion that as a society we had failed them miserably as children. At age 5, these men would be worthy of sympathy, yet as soon as they committed a crime, regardless of age, much of the world viewed them with derision. Their plight stoked my passion for marginalized populations. It was within the walls of this correctional facility that I came to more completely understand mental illness and substance abuse as chronic conditions which need to be treated throughout the lifespan.
I worked in corrections for eight…
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