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Resonance Literacy: Transformative Critical Pedagogy

For nearly twenty years, Avi Penhollow has taught in classrooms across the United States. 


"I often describe my journey into teaching as one marked by reluctance.  It was not in my life plan, not that I really had one by the time I made it to college. As a child, I had always loved school.  I enjoyed reading, writing, and learning, but at the same time, I often wondered why we did things the way we did. Teachers generally did not appreciate being asked why. Many years later I discovered that many educators do not actually have an adequate answer to "why school" other than the status quo "so you can get a good job".


It wasn’t until I discovered critical literacy that I became truly engaged in pedagogy. After working as a journalist and later in the budding e-commerce industry in San Francisco, I found myself out of work after the dot com bubble burst in 2001.  Fortunately, my company dispensed a modest severance pay which I used to relocate to Los Angeles.  I discovered an employment ad at a nearby facility school for marginalized students with what was then diagnosed as “severely mentally disturbed” children and was assigned to a 5th-grade classroom.  At the time I thought it was just a gig until I moved on to other things.  However, once I met these learners that were confined to a residential treatment program against their will something just clicked inside of me.

The connections between teaching and social transformation became apparent to me right away Consequently, for almost two decades my primary assignments were in Title I schools working with students labeled as "at risk" or reluctant and struggling learners.  In Denver, Colorado I discovered a group of radical pedagogy activists who established a teacher certification program based on critical literacy, language, and culturally responsive teaching.  After obtaining my teaching credential I began working in a mental health facility school for learners with acute suicidal ideation.  Once again, I saw direct correlations between trauma-informed pedagogy and critical literacy.  I also became certified in several somatic healing modalities which also informed my practice.  I received certification as a yoga instructor and a State registered massage therapist.  Finally, I moved to Hawaii where I made further connections with critical literacy and culture-based curriculum."

Avi is currently a doctoral student of Language & Literacies for Social Transformation at the University of Missouri at Columbia.  


As part of his graduate studies in education Avi created a few videos describing culture-based education in Hawaii.

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