The Mission is to Search for the Original Thinkers and Writers of Conscience of the 21st Century.
“What are the confrontational texts we should be inviting students to read, that anyone should read?” Paul asks. “How do we expand those texts into how they inform living in a free society and engaging in activism? – P.L. Thomas, 2015
At Garn Press it is not enough to garner the thinking of great scholars of the past. Garn’s Mission is also to search for the original thinkers of the 21st century — writers of conscience who embrace social media and the technological revolution to create remarkable books that inspire people to act.
Diane Ravitch writes that Paul Thomas “is the con- science of American education.” She calls Paul, “our North Star,” and she supports his “pedagogy of kindness”, stating:
In these essays, he demands that we see the world through the eyes of others, that we open our minds and our hearts to the children and families left be- hind by our culture, that we place the demands of social justice above the demands of accountability and testing.
At Garn we have come to recognize that Paul’s writing on Literature as Resistance connects all the books that the Press has published – the first signs of this intertextuality occurs with James Paul Gee’s Blowing Out the Candles. Both writers expose their own vulnerabilities and neither writes as an authority, but of “life among the ruins” and “seeking the rational among the irrational”, as Paul writes in a chapter entitled “Adrienne Rich: Artist of the Possible and Life Among the Ruins.”
This chapter and many others in Paul’s Beware the Roadbuilders connect with Save. Adrienne Rich is one of Save’s venerable women scholars. Similarly Maxine Green appears in Save and Paul writes about her in Literature as Resistance in a chapter entitled, “Maxine Greene and the ‘Frozen Sea Inside of Us.” Paul begins with a quote from a letter written by Franz Kafka:
I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading it for? … A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.
“I think the core sentiment,” Paul writes, “that a book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us, is the perfect entry point into why Maxine Green’s works remain more important than ever, her voice the axe against the frozen sea of relentless but misguided education reform.”
Paul Thomas brings to our attention the way Maxine uses the poetry of Wallace Stevens and Emily Dickinson (Gee’s Emily in his poems) to seamlessly frame the writings of John Dewey and Paulo Freire. And so it goes, this work on literature as resistance, the “veneer of certainty” in educational reform outdone by the ambiguity and uncertainty of art.
“What are the confrontational texts we should be inviting students to read, that anyone should read?” Paul asks.
“How do we expand those texts into how they inform living in a free society and engaging in activism? How do traditional assumptions about what texts matter and what texts reveal support the status quo of power? And how can texts of all types assist in the ongoing pursuit of equity among free people?”
In the Epilogue, on the last page, Paul writes:
Every child that we teach needs our relentless love and patience because childhood is a frail becoming that leads to this thing we call adulthood, which we fail each time we allow ourselves to be callous to the laughter or tears of a child–especially when we do so in the name of education.
Thus in Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance Paul Thomas shares with us a truth that we should always have known — that literature can shed light on the destructiveness of educational reform in a way that non-fiction cannot. In Literature as Resistance he presents a compelling argument that billionaires, politicians, and self-professed education reformers are doing more harm than good despite their public message. The public, teachers, and children are being crushed beneath their reforms. Then in the very last paragraph he encourages us to act: Armed with books and films and words of all kinds, like the academics and scholars at the end of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 who have memorized precious books, we can join each other in refrain: Beware the roadbuilders.
Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance
By P.L. Thomas
Published: March, 2015
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-942146-07-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-08-7
Garn Press Imprint: Language and Social Policy
Paperback: $27.95 USD | eBook: $21.95 USD
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