Kathryn Crim tries to understand life in the San Quentin prison, while teaching there:
Teaching often facilitates a relationship with one’s own ignorance: only by confronting the limits of my knowledge can I begin to ask questions, begin to imagine how questions will be asked of me. This is a confrontation I have learned to accept readily, as a useful practice, a gentle intellectual and spiritual stretching in the safe and narrowed context of a classroom. But outside the door of the San Quentin classroom is a prison yard, and beyond that, stairways that lead to cellblocks and dorms where thousands of men live literally stacked against each other.
I do not understand how to live out there. I don’t have to. But more significantly, I don’t know how to think about what a life there means. For some hours after teachingsometimes daysI can’t reconcile the scale of my daily existence with the scale of a world which has brought about this other place.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.