Lately, it feels like the world is both literally and figuratively on fire. As a mere English teacher researcher and content creator, there are times when feel kind of powerless in the throes of political upheaval, culture wars, and social unrest. I’ve always believed English class is a place where students can cultivate the wisdom and discernment needed to create a more just, liberatory future, but I always wish I could do more. Luckily, last summer I stumbled upon the work of Dr. Mark Bracher, an English professor at Kent State University and the author of Literature, Social Wisdom, and Global Justice: Developing Systems Thinking Through Literary Study. Dr. Bracher’s research leverages the latest scholarship from cognitive and neuroscience to develop a systems thinking approach to literary studies that fosters four key cognitive functions: causal analysis, prospection, social cognition, and metacognition. Through the cultivation of these practices, Bracher believes (and I agree) students can cultivate skills and habits of mind that allow them to not only recognize the social injustices within our social, political, and ecological systems but intervene with wisdom, discernment, and empathy. Many of you who know me personally, know I read a lot of books about education. I’m nerdy like that. So trust me when I say, this is one of the most compelling books on English teaching I’ve encountered in a very long time.
Dr. Bracher's website
Dr. Bracher's published works
American Dream(ing) Project Overview (10th-grade unit I co-designed based on Bracher's work)