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Embracing Contraries: Explorations in Learning and Teaching [Paperback]

by Peter Elbow

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Book Description

October 22, 1987 0195046617 978-0195046618
Peter Elbow's widely acclaimed and original theories on the writing process, set forth in Writing Without Teachers and Writing With Power, have earned him a reputation as a leading educational innovator. Now Elbow has drawn together twelve of his essays on the nature of learning and teaching to suggest a comprehensive philosophy of education. At once theoretical and down-to-earth, this collection will appeal not only to teachers, adminitrators and students, but to anyone with a love of learning. Elbow explores the "contraries" in the educational process, in particular his theory that clear thinking can be enhanced by inviting indecision, incoherence, and paradoxical thinking. The essays, written over a period of twenty-five years, are engaged in a single enterprise:to arrive at insights or conclusions about learning and teaching while still doing justice to the "rich messiness" of intellectual inquiry. Drawing his conclusions from his own perplexities as a student and as a teacher, Elbow discusses the value of interdisciplinary teaching, his theory of "cooking" (an interaction of conflicting ideas), the authority relationship in teaching and the value of specifying learning objectives. A full section is devoted to evaluation and feedback, both of students and faculty. Finally, Elbow focuses on the need to move beyond the skepticism of critical thinking to what he calls "methodological belief"-an ability to embrace more than one point of view.

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Embracing Contraries: Explorations in Learning and Teaching + Vernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring to Writing + Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process
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Editorial Reviews


"Every teacher at every level and in every field should read this book. That would make life better for many students."--Duane H. Roen, Univ. of Arizona

"Elbow is delightful to read as well as inspiring for the teacher, neophyte or experienced."--Anne LeCroy, East Tennessee State University

"Those who want some outstanding specific examples of the kind of rethinking that we should be doing in our schools could do no better than read Embracing Contraries....We need to take a cue from Peter Elbow and carefully reexamine all our practices."--Albert Shanker, President, American Federation of Teachers

"For a long time, Peter Elbow has been for me a welcome figure in the many public discussions of writing....Elbow is one of the modern pioneers in developing a teaching style founded on interest in what is already in students' minds, so that when he speaks, teachers who naturally put students before subject matter listen."--ADE Bulletin

"Elbow makes thinking playful and testing it rigorous. He seems to have invented a precisely tooled, gleaming little machine for turning out insights."--Ken Macrorie, Albuquerque Journal Magazine

"Peter Elbow is always good company. He "preaches" what I "practice."--Nancy Walker, Southwest Missouri State University

"It's good to know there's somebody our there who thinks and cares and writes about [teaching], with truth and power."--S. Georgia Nugent, Brown University

"With a view toward teaching problem-solving in SW practice, this book helps us confront alternative ways of learning and, as a result, improves critical thinking. I will consider for . . . courses in future."--Dr. Mickel Coconis, University of Kentucky

"Extraordinary....Insightful!"--Shirley A. McFaul, Lewis University

About the Author

Peter Elbow is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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