By Tom Wright
Learning is a function of hunger. What? That’s right, the hungrier a student is for the mind food you are offering them, the better the learner they are. And they will also digest what you have to offer more readily as well. Regardless of how “smart” you think they are, or what their I. Q. is. Digestion equals the ability and a willingness to apply what has been learned. This is because the easier it is to access skills, information, and tools, the more likely a human being will use them. This rule is immutable. This observation applies to most of the human race, bar none. Other than those who have physical characteristics that prevent them from learning, this rule always applies. And those with physical limitations are a very, very, small portion of the entire populace.
I have taught both English and transformational seminars in prisons for years. If you talk to the outside populace about the prison population, the politically correct verbiage is “recidivism” while simultaneously if you ask them, they would not want an ex-con living in their neighborhood. Therefore, their belief in recidivism is either nil, or no. That would mean that most people do not believe that inmates can either be persuaded to live different lives other than crime or they believe that inmates cannot be re-educated with the skills necessary to do so. It is this belief that has to be overcome in society, in order for people to see that anti-recidivism training works, and in turn, to have faith in its outcome. As long as the majority of citizens do not believe in these truths, that people’s lives can be changed for the better, even when you do valuable work to that effect with inmates, they will be at a disadvantage. This disadvantage manifests as blocked opportunities, and unwillingness by those in power to provide a realistic offering of programs that would actually support an inmate in getting a job, a place to stay, and to live a life within an environment that supports the changes that have happened.