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Hi Reader ~
If you have access to the Trulincs / Corrlinks service, I hope you will consider signing up for the Fair Shake newsletter!
Every two weeks or so I write or gather information that I think is relevant, human, social and thought-provoking…and sometimes it even includes some reentry resources (although rarely, since this is a national newsletter).
For instance, I share lists of places that send free books and I also share ‘recommended reading’ lists that I receive from the newsletter readers. With nearly 800 readers, the recommendations are fairly diverse and generally provide new, interesting titles for everyone.
Since I am studying for my master’s degree in Adult and Continuing Education, I share stories of learning including my own experiences of learning how to race a very small car (1989 Honda CRX si) on a 1/4 mile dirt oval race track or, during the winter, on a 1 – 2 mile rally course (right and left turns) on a frozen lake. (Ice racers are strongly opposed to global warming!) We are all learning all the time. We can engage theories in adult learning for many applications and improve our outcomes by understanding how we learn.
I also share news and reflections about articles and stories I find in newspapers, magazines, and academic papers. I’m generally very critical, however, because many of the ideas I read are simply recycled programs from the past twenty years, once again touting that education or employment somehow magically creates reentry success. In all honesty, we all know it’s not the job, or the education that has been designed to train people for a job, that keeps someone out of jail. It is the individual who desires much more than simply playing their part to support the economic machine. Keeping the job, learning for learning’s sake, engaging in communities and families, feeling like we are in control of our lives and that we are valuable to society are all important factors in creating reentry success. The bottom line is: it’s not the education or the job, it’s the person. We can see plenty of proof for this since there is no shortage of highly-educated people who had highly desirable and well-paying jobs – including elected officials! – that have made their way into prison.
This information is important because it reminds us that when we are engaged in education or employment training opportunities, we need to also be sensitive to what we enjoy – and what frustrates us – to try to see where snags may lie in our future. We are still learning even when we are not excited about what we are learning! It is at those times that people look to ‘the big picture’ to get over hurdles or even develop ‘bridges’ to learning like the Khan Academy, where what used to be drudgery can become fun and engaging. That level of creativity can be applied to employment, as well.
In the newsletter I ask questions of the readers and then compile the answers in follow up newsletters so people can see each others answers (anonymously, of course). Readers on this list are in state and federal facilities. It’s important to widely share as many constructive perspectives, suggestions (like the reading list!) and ideas as possible.
Finally, I share information that is not distributed widely from authors few folks have heard of. They are usually philosophical in nature and speak to each person in a somewhat different way, which is important. We need to feel – and embrace – our unique qualities and talents to then see how we can engage them in our work, in our close relationships and in our communities.
Fair Shake is guided by the philosophy of ubuntu: I am who I am because of who we all are. Although we make decisions for ourselves, who we are today is the result of how we learned to be a person from the people and influences that have contributed to our unique perspective. We cannot escape our connection to one another and we cannot pretend that we do not impact each other. With that in mind, it’s important to always try to make the most positive impact possible so we can spiral upward to improve our own lives and also the lives of the children that our villages are raising. As Desmond Tutu says: I need you to be all that you can be! Because that is the only way that I can be all that I can be.
All the best to you in your transitions!
Ubuntu, ~ sue