Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance
Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance by Paul Thomas
Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance was born out of blogging as an act of social justice. Over a period of about two years, many posts built the case against market-based education reform and for a critical re-imagining of public education. This book presents a coordinated series of essays based on that work, using a wide range of written and visual texts to call for the universal public education we have failed to achieve.
The central image and warning of the book -"beware the roadbuilders"- is drawn from Alice Walker's The Color Purple. The book presents a compelling argument that billionaires, politicians, and self-professed education reformers are doing more harm than good-despite their public messages. The public and our students are being crushed beneath their reforms. In the wake of Ferguson and the growing list of sacrificed young black men- Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner- the essays in this book gain an even wider resonance, seeking to examine both the larger world of inequity as well as the continued failure of educational inequity.
While each chapter stands as a separate reading, the book as a whole produces a cohesive theme and argument about the power of critical literacy to read and re-read the world, and to write and re-rewrite the world (Paulo Freire). Supporting that larger message are several key ideas and questions: What are the confrontational texts we should be inviting students to read, that anyone should read? Instead of reducing texts to the narrow expectations of New Criticism or "close reading," how do we expand those texts into how they inform living in a free society and engaging in activism? How do traditional assumptions about what texts matter and what texts reveal support the status quo of power? And how can texts of all types assist in the ongoing pursuit of equity among free people?
“The conscience of American education. He is our North Star.” – Diane Ravitch
“Thomas uses this wonderfully written book to engage readers with these ideas and to further the much-needed conversation concerning education policy.” – Kevin Welner
“The master of the pithy, pointed essay, and this collection should provoke readers to think hard about educational issues that matter.” – Peter Smagorinsky
“This amazing journey takes you through all kinds of literary genres (sci fi, zombies, history, autobiography, superheroes) with a deeply thoughtful analysis of the social justice implications in these very different works. Paul Thomas shares his own life journey as well as his passionate concern for the education and well-being of marginalized people.” – Amazon
“P.L. Thomas reveals the intersections among oppression, education, and literature.” – Julie Gorlewski
“Boldly imagined, brilliantly powerful” – Jeanne Marcum Gerlach
“Paul Thomas makes connections with the speed and radiance of light. Consequently, his commentaries are as enlightening as they are exuberant. A voracious reader and writer, Thomas urges us to consider how our understanding of the world–especially the world of teaching and learning–can be enhanced by studying and reflecting on literature.” – Amazon
“I loved Paul Thomas’ book. I find myself often quoting his story “Beware the Roadbuilders.” These are the guys who come to town and promise all sorts of wonderful innovations and changes, dine at your table, toast to the success of their project, and….when the road builders come back to town, they build their road right through the middle of the village, tearing down the homes in which they had been welcomed as guest.” – Amazon
“The material is provocative and timely. A must read” – William M. Reynolds
“Lead the way, please. Define a new educational philosophy with this well-written handbook! I encourage you to read it because these are the thoughts of that little voice inside of you.” – Amazon
“A powerful voice for change, but ultimately, his greatest influence is in the way he empowers others to speak” – Alison H. Williams