Book Chapter: Humanizing Pedagogy and the Personal Essay

Messekher, H., Reilly, J. & Harrison, M. (2010). Humanizing pedagogy in action: Observations of an English composition classroomIn G. Park (Ed.), Observation of teaching: Bridging theory and practice through research and teaching (pp.109-122). USA: LINCOM.


This paper analyzes the practices and applicability of a humanized pedagogy in the composition classroom that relies heavily on personal essay assignments. Rooted in expressivist theories of composition, the personal essay is used as a tool of self-exploration as well as individuation. Expressivist theories of the personal essay imply that it will have a humanizing force in the classroom as students are encouraged to develop their own writing voices. Our classroom observations showed us that there was a strong connection between not only the theory and practice of using personal essays, but also of the outcomes such practice will have on student writing, creating a more humanized classroom environment. These observations served as a useful bridge, uniting theories behind composition instruction with first-hand experience of their use.

Keywords: writing, personal essay, humanizing pedagogy.