Elizabeth Howard started teaching language arts in 1961, discovering that t all students are learning to read. This is the story of her final semester in a public school in 1993, the high-security prison Adobe Mountain in Phoenix, AZ. Her story began as an attempt to help adolescent boys learn critical thinking. The story ends with an escape from institutionalization.
Dr. Howard began teaching middle school English in Galveston County, Texas. During her long career, she taught English and reading in jr. colleges, universities, and high schools. She alternated teaching grades 7-12, and secondary education courses, including teaching methods and student teaching . She especially sought solutions involving at-risk students. Along the way, she wrote texts for the ARC of the United States, including curriculum materials about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for students with mild mental retardation. After her retirement in 2003, she taught one more semester in public education: Arizona's high-security prison for adolescent boys at Adobe Mountain School in Phoenix. Banal training at the state level did little to alleviate her fears of gang and individual violence. Training on the prison campus was equally ineffectual. A principal who avoided teacher contact, along with here-today-gone- tomorrow vice-principals, contributed to her rising panic as the first day of school approached. Teaching Absurd is her account of meeting and teaching boys behind the razor wire. Most teachers will find validation in this memoir, familiar situations of desperate attempts to teach in classrooms with no resources, no support, policies created for the sole purpose to look good on paper, and scary situations.