Part of the Collaborative Book Review of Structuring Equality: Handbook for Student-Centered Learning. The book is available here. This post reviews the book's introduction and afterword by Cathy Davidson and Danica Savonick.
Many of us may gloss over the introduction and afterword of a book, eager to get through the packaging and into the gifts that lie in the center of a text. But in Structuring Equality, the afterword is a gem that no one should miss. It lists a full 26 class-based techniques for facilitating total participation, which the foreword explains is the aim of this Handbook for Student-Centered Learning and Teaching Practices. Danica Savonick’s descriptions of these hierarchy-disrupting classroom activities are not only clear and detailed, but include quotations or visual examples that made me eager for my next chance to try them out. Think-Pair-Share, Exit Tickets, or the Talking Stack may be familiar to some people with experience in formal instruction, but many others – Everybody Raise your Hand, Cosmo Quiz, Speed Dating – will be original and enticing to new and seasoned educators (and students!) alike.
In teaching and learning, that feeling of eagerness and willingness to experiment is precious. It inspires us to effect meaningful experiences with every student. Fittingly, this same message comes through in Cathy Davidson’s foreword to the Handbook. An actual CUNY course “American Literature, American Learning” was the foundation for this collection of experience-based essays. The class transformed itself into an authentic team-based project for the real world: all participants pursued their interests to create this compendium of lessons on learning for public engagement. The result is a guide that was made by doing; the result is praxis. The result is radical re-structuring.