National Writing Project

"History Should Come First": Perspectives from Somali-Born, Refugee-Background Youth on Writing In and Out of School

Publication: Educating Refugee-Background Students: Critical Issues and Dynamic Contexts
Date: 2018

Summary: This essay collection, featuring a contribution from Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield director Bryan Ripley Crandall, examines the educational experiences of adolescents and adults with refugee backgrounds.


In Chapter 2, Bryan Ripley Crandall shifts to a qualitative focus, considering the complex 'writing lives' of four Somali-born male students at a high school in the northeastern United States. Ripley Crandall employs activity theory to highlight the writing experiences that students find most meaningful, both inside and outside of the classroom. Participants in this study were particularly eager to share their personal stories and cultural/historical understandings with peers and teachers from other backgrounds. Yet, the testing-dominated curriculum employed in their schools provided few opportunities for this sort of writing. The author concludes by discussing the teaching implications of his study, including the importance of authentic purposes, real-world audiences and multiphase processes in the writing lives of refugee-background youth."

About the Author

BRYAN RIPLEY CRANDALL is the director of the Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield.

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