Students gain perspective on multicultural literature



John Jarvey, a retired teacher, reads “I Am America” by Charles R. Smith to students and teachers during a discussion on global literature in White Hall on April 11. Photo by Melanie Nesteruk.

Ben Miller

“You travel the world without ever leaving the world,” said John Jarvey, retired Cleveland Public School English teacher, during his presentation on multicultural-based books to an audience of about 30 students and guests Thursday in White Hall.

More than 100 books were scattered throughout the room, surrounding the audience. Jarvey spoke about 25 diverse books from the 21st century, Health and Human Services.

Joanne Dowdy, teaching, learning and curricular studies professor, invited Jarvey to speak to recommend books to students in the College of Education that they can use when they are teachers as educational tools. All the books Jarvey shared were diverse because of either the stories or the authors.

Jarvey taught English and reading for 35 years in the Cleveland Public School system before becoming an adjunct professor at Cleveland State University.

Jarvey said he believes textbooks serve a practical purpose in the classroom, but it is just as important to incorporate traditional books that will “provide enjoyment when read cover to cover.”

The presentation was also interactive for audience members, as Jarvey asked individuals to read lines from Charles R. Smith Jr.’s book “I Am America.” Jarvey also led the audience in an “echo poem,” in which he recited lines from Langston Hughes’s poem “Madam and The Rent Man” and audience members recited the lines back in unison.

“My presentation is meant to pass on my passion,” Jarvey said. “All I could hope for is to trigger a passion or a curiosity in others to read.”

Karl Daymon, senior integrated social studies major, said he found Jarvey’s presentation “really enlightening.”

“The books Mr. Jarvey summarized and suggested sound like they’d be so impactful to so many different students,” Daymon said. “I know now there are a number of different titles I’m going to check out.”

Contact Ben Miller at [email protected].