Class Update: The Business of Writing From the Prisoner’s Perspective

Introduction

This week was week six of Writing and Publishing. Week six is the week when we focus upon the author platform, the different types of publishers, and where to go for outside help. It certainly was a jam-packed session.

Author Platform

Of these three focal points, the author platform caused the most frustration. Sadly, prisoners live in a stunted society where many modern conveniences – and expectations – are not allowed. A prime case-in-point is creating an author platform.

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Class Update: Enhanced Learning In A Smaller Setting

Introduction

It will never cease to amaze me how seemingly insignificant events can have truly profound effects in a correctional education setting. This week’s installment of ‘Writing and Publishing’ really drove this point home to me.

This week class didn’t start so much at 7 p.m. — as it is supposed to — but at 6:30 p.m. This was due to the increasingly erratic calling of institutional movements by whoever was working in the control center of FCI-Petersburg. It seemed like they called all of the hourly movements (ten-minute periods when inmates are allowed to move from location to location. This is supposed to be done on the hour) 10 or 15 minutes early. Or, in the case of the 7 p.m. move, 30 minutes early.

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Class Update: Alarming Staff Change, Fuzzy Teacher, Student Comment

By Christopher Zoukis

I am pleased to report that after a two week hiatus, we finally had class. What a relief to arrive at the FCI-Petersburg Education Department and find the doors unlocked. I know that both my students and I found this to be a much needed reprieve After all, collectively we were becoming discouraged because of all the cancelled classes.

While this is still speculation at this point, I hear that there was a shake-up in terms of which education staff work on which days. If this last past Monday was an indicator, then my life and my class just became that much less stressful. This is because the Supervisor of Education was on duty Monday night and had everything moving along as it should.

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PrisonEducation.com Engages Blogger

By Christopher Zoukis

I’m very proud to alert you about a new staffing acquisition. In an effort to become more timely and professional, PrisonEducation.com has brought on a staff blogger. This blogger – who was acquired through our website management firm Intimo Media – will be scouring the web on a daily basis for breaking prison education news and policy changes. She will be posting this news twice a week to PrisonEducation.com.

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Class Update: Humor as a Tool

Introduction

What a week! I’ve been so swamped with work and school that I’m all scatterbrained. How about a quick personal update to start?

Personal Update

Right now I am in a bit of a transition regarding my collegiate career. I’ve grown a bit discontented with the pace of my Ohio University studies. This is the nature of the beast when dealing with correspondence studies.

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Class Update: Fostering a Healthy Learning Environment

What an exciting – and anxiety provoking – first class. As those of you that follow this blog know, I teach a class entitled “Writing and Publishing” at FCI-Petersburg, a federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia. This is an 8-week course which is taught to a group of twenty students. This last class was the first class for my third group of students.

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My Scholarly Direction

I have to say, I’m at a bit of a crossroads here. I’m trying to figure out what I want to do in terms of my next book project. Right now, I am finishing up the revisions to Education Behind Bars. I have to turn it in to Sunbury Press, my publisher, in the near future. Then, I’ll spend a few weeks doing the finishing touches on Practice Electra, my debut novel. All of this should be done by the end of September. This brings me to planning my next project.

Right now I feel as if I’m being pulled in several directions. On the one hand, novels are easy. They don’t require a ton of research and they flow rather well. But novels aren’t socially important documents. Don’t get me wrong, they have a purpose and can fulfill some needs, but they aren’t something life changing. These days I’m focused upon changing lives and inspiring others. I guess that I want to produce something of real meaning, not mere entertainment value.

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Class Update (7-25-2011): An Instructor Interrupted

I have to say, the last several weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and emotions. On the activity side, Pasquale over at Intimo Media  has completely redone both this site and ChristopherZoukis.com. He also managed our most recent press release.

As for me, I’ve been swamped with school work and newsletter work. To top this off, this last weekend I undertook a very substantial research paper entitled “What Is Prison Education and Why Should We Care?” This was prompted from the Wikipedia page on “Prison Education.” It was just so bad, in terms of the meat of it, that I decided to write a research paper and post it. This way prison education would get a fair, well-researched and sourced, shake. After all, I don’t want people to read the current page and take it as fact. In the coming weeks I’ll be posting my paper to this blog, Wikipedia, and the Media page of this site. Needless to say, life is very hectic and sleep is not coming to me like I wish it would. I guess that this is life.

On the emotional side, this week has been rough to say the least.

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Prison Education: A New Class?

I had a conversation yesterday that caused me to think about my ‘Writing and Publishing’ class and the options available. The discussion was with Bill Batton, the prisoner Adult Continuing Education coordinator, and had to do with what I will be teaching next quarter. His question was simple, “Do you want to teach Writing and Publishing again or do you want to teach the Professional Writing course that you spoke about several weeks ago?” While a simple question, coming to the answer is anything but simple.
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Class Update (7-18-2011): Interpersonal Interactions Gone Awry

To tell you the truth, the week leading up to class was annoying. One of the guys in my class is in my housing unit and he just won’t leave me alone. Every day he walks up, pats me on the shoulder, and says “Don’t forget to do your homework.” He does this twenty or thirty times every day. Usually he does so while I’m working at the computer, interrupting my concentration. As a matter of fact, I’ve been awake for a little less than 30 minutes now and he just came by to ask me if I did my homework yet. Err.
What makes this worse is that the guy has a bad reputation for doing some odd things with odd people. Suffice to say that he is one of those guys in prison that you don’t want to be seen associating with. I take a more open view to this. I try to be nice and responsive to all, but when the guy follows you around, life can be trying. I suppose this is the curse of those who are not directly aggressive, but passively aggressive. I commonly refer to myself being a ‘pacifist within reason,’ something not all that common in the prison environment.
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