Cornell Prison Education Program

Why teach Cornell undergrads when you can teach maximum security prison inmates? I signed up as a teaching assistant with the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) in 2011 and was assigned to a pre-college math class. Every Thursday I drove an hour to Auburn (Wikipedia article), walked through nine gates and across two prison yards, into the school building, and taught 20 or so students as much math as you need to get through a liberal arts degree. Two hours later they let me out each time.

Prison Education (Wikipedia article) is more controversial than it should be, at least here in the USA. Some societies use imprisonment for rehabilitation, deterrence, and prevention, but in the USA vengeance seems to be the main idea. For a good sampling of what the vox populi has to say on the subject, try the comments under this article about the first graduation ceremony in Auburn in which one of my math students graduated. While we're on the topic, check out the video of the graduation including a talk by Warren Buffett's sister.

I stopped participating when I realized that there is no space for an engineering class in the liberal arts degree offered in Auburn. That's not to discourage anyone from also trying it and becoming a TA or teacher with CPEP! Please start by reading the Getting Involved page on the CPEP website. And keep in mind that the most suitable classes have more books than equations per semester ;)