good news | transformative language arts

Even the name of this concept and calling makes me swoon with joy and recognition: Transformative Language Arts (TLA). TLA is about the deliberate use of words for transformation – written, spoken, or sung words for positive personal and social change. This is good news.

Developed by Goddard College professor Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, TLA acknowledges and proclaims what we know to be true: Words are a tool for making life better on deeper levels, and for connecting in meaningful ways.

I experience this transformative effect when my writing is at its best. The act of writing brings my best self – the parts of me that are wise beyond my understanding ­– forward and into view. Also, the words of others are a constant source of inspiration. I would be a much smaller person without them.

My desire to know more about TLA led me to the information and links below, and to an appreciation for the community it gathers. Though a name isn’t required, having a name for the power of words to transform makes it easier for those of us who revere it to find each other.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s Wisdom

“You write because you found that the shortest distance between yourself and where you need to go is across the lines on a page.” Book

“When we start learning what we’re telling ourselves, what we’re absorbing from others about how to live, we’re working with the core of the story of our life.” Interview

“Use whatever you’re reading, writing, living, and yearning for as a constant way to ask yourself what story you’re living, and if this is the true story of who you are and why you’re alive.” Interview

TLA’s Inspired Origin

The Emergence of Transformative Language Arts, by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg Q & A, interview by Kathy Hansen on the website A Storied Career

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s website

Online TLA Hubs

Transformative Language Arts Network

Transformative Language Artist, a webzine (with writing prompts in the sidebar)

TLA in Person

2013 Power of Words Conference – October 11-13, 2013, in Philadelphia

Transformative Language Arts Concentration at Goddard College (Plainfield, VT)

An Example of TLA in Action

True Notebooks – Bestselling author Mark Salzman discovers that teaching writing to juvenile offenders in lockup helps him as well as his students.

Further Reading

The Power of Words: A Transformative Language Arts Reader (book)

TLAN’s recommended reading list

(Some book links are commission links.)


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