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Life in a Crowded Place

Making a Learning Community

Ralph Peterson


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No one will deny that life in classrooms is an intense social experience. Crowded together with students for six or more hours a day in a space no bigger than a large living room, the immediate response of most teachers is to maintain control and enforce obedience. But creating a communitybringing students together and keeping them togetheris the most vital aspect of a teacher's work. Without it, real learning cannot take place, as even the soundest philosophies and techniques amount to little without a community to bring them to life. The concept of community in the classroom is certainly not new, but little has been said about what makes up a community, how it is created, and what functions it fulfills.

In Life in a Crowded Place, Ralph Peterson helps teachers see what it is they do when they bring students together to make a community. The hope here is to show teachers what is going onto identify and nameso that they can exercise greater control over their work and understand the kind of learning community they are making (or need to make) and how that community functions to influence the quality of learning and life in elementary and middle school.

Readers of this book will:

  • acquire language for identifying and understanding the community-making aspect of their work
  • identify ways they can work with their students to make a learning community
  • initiate teaching and learning that is centered in critique and dialogue
  • gain an understanding of the importance of the social in learning and the benefit of community.

Heinemann Educational Books, 9780435087364, 160pp.

Publication Date: August 17, 1992