Hey, my name’s Justin, son of the author of this book Fighting Prosaic Messages. My dad, Henry Amoroso, was a professor of education at The University of Southern Maine. He was in the education department, and his specialty was literacy. He basically taught teachers how to teach reading. 😉
Let me first start off by saying, THANKS for stopping by! I started this blog as kind of “pamphlet” for my dad’s book.
He worked on this book even up to when he was in the hospital fighting Leukemia. That’s how much this book came from his heart.
He finished this magnum opus of his before he passed, but some cleaning needed to be done on it. I had the privilege of doing that. Meanwhile, my mother worked her tail off to get it published. So, I started this blog as a way to get the word out there about this phenomenal book (yes, I’m biased. 😀 ).
To be honest, I’d also like to use this blog as an excuse to bring together all my dad’s writings in one place, too. But hopefully these shorter writings might be useful to you, and also give you sense of his philosophy of education.
If I were to sum up this book, I’d say it’s a critique of the U.S. Education system. But what’s really cool about this book is HOW my dad critiques education–through story.
The story begins with his grandmother emigrating to the U.S. from Sicily. Then it follows how three generations of her family struggled in the U.S. Education system. Each “struggle” represents a different way students might generally struggle in schools:
- The Immigrant new to the U.S. (Grandmother)
- The Dropout disinterested in school (Father)
- The “A” Student struggling to find his voice (Himself)
- The “Artistic” Type with a voice but nearly losing it in trying to conform (Children).
Part I is the story. It takes up most of the book. Part II analyzes each “case” in a series of essays.
This structure is one of the things I love about this book. He marries both imagination and analysis. He entertains while also raising serious questions. And his whole approach answers, in part, his critique of the U.S. Education system.
If there’s an emphasis on rote learning, on motivating students to learn extrinsically, on training students to be compliant “workers” rather than thinkers, doers, creative makers, then appealing to both modes of thinking–roughly head, heart, and hand–might be an alternative.
Again, if we appealed to both imagination and the ability to think critically/to know in students, this might motivate students intrinsically, help students to think for themselves, and to find their voice.
This takes care. Care, for my dad, is the secret to great teaching.
Long after school has ended, a student may then want to continue to learn. That’s how my dad understood literacy. Not just knowing how to read, but having the desire to read, to think, to understand, to imagine. This kind of literacy often transforms us from within, leading to moral development.
In fact, I would often hear my dad ask the question, “What’s the purpose of education?” Following John Dewey, he would sometimes tentatively answer this. An educated citizenry is critical to a well-functioning democracy.
I’m super excited to share this book with you.
If you’re curious how to navigate this blog, a good place to start might be “Author.” That’s where you’ll find his writings.
From there feel free to check out “Excerpts.” I put the Introduction there as well as a few of his stories about struggles in the U.S. Education system, and some bibliography selections.
Finally, there’s the “Order” section if you’re interested in picking up the book. It’s okay if you don’t. Hopefully you might get something out of the content on this blog. The book is great because it can be read cover to cover like a novel, or used as a resource. For me personally, this book and his philosophy of education has helped me be a better teacher myself.
Thanks again for stopping by! Feel free to hit the “Follow” button so we can stay in touch. Come back, and I hope you enjoy the visit.