For John Gaughan, preparing his students for life is just as important as preparing them for college. He doesn't sacrifice one for the other; he just uses different content. Instead of ignoring the controversial issues that emerge from discussions of gender, race, and sexuality, he addresses these issues head on in the literature and writing he assigns. This is the kind of teaching Gaughan advocates in Reinventing English—teaching that occurs in the contact zone. This book is about creating opportunities in the English classroom for students to become thoughtful, committed citizens. It is about encouraging them to air their views honestly and forthrightly.

The pedagogy that Gaughan uses is process based. In addition to strategies for writing about reading, creating learning centers, and writing in multiple genres, he discusses activities to promote discussion, stimulate debate, and rethink first thoughts. To help you get started, the book includes handouts for a number of these strategies, including ones for four-corner debates, writing poems for two voices, and working in literature circles.

Such teaching can be risky business. It may offend the sensibilities of students, parents, administrators, and colleagues. Some teachers may not find these risks worth taking. It would be safer to remain in the comfort zone and avoid messy confrontations about class and culture, sex and sexuality. But would we be sparing our students similar confrontations later in life?