Coming on Center: English Education in Evolution

By James Moffett
Curated by Jonathan M. Marine and Paul Rogers

CoverComprised of twelve chapters drawn from speeches and published work from 1970 to 1980, Coming on Center: English Education in Evolution attempts to bridge the gap between theory and practice, past and future, student and society, and in doing so to help educators think more effectively about the teaching of language which Moffett believed played a vital role in our sense of self, culture, and society. Moving between practical teacher talk and analysis of learning principles and theory, and interlaced with moving anecdotes and examples from his own life, Moffett draws the increasingly political and societal focus of his ideas about language learning into a single volume which seeks to enlarge conceptions of language learning and curriculum development to account for the mindful and meditative, and the spiritual and societal.

Table of Contents

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Front Matter

1. Coming on Center

2. Misbehavioral Subjectives

3. Making Schools Pay Off or A Student-Centered Language Arts Curriculum

4. Interview

5. Teaching Literacy

6. Going with Growth: Fitting Schools to the Facts of Language Life

7. Bajan Bestiary

8. Integrity in the Teaching of Writing

9. Instructional Television for Language Learning in the ‘80s

10. Yoga for Public School Teachers

11. On Essaying

12. Writing, Inner Speech, and Meditation


About James Moffett

James Porter Moffett (1929–1996) was a ground-breaking teacher, author, and theorist of language learning who had a profound impact on the fields of English Education, Language Arts, Composition, and Educational Psychology in the mid-to-late 20th century (Warnock). Moffett also had a lasting impact on the National Writing Project (NWP), was influential at the 1966 Dartmouth conference, and figured closely into the history of National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE); speaking at a number of NCTE conferences and events, publishing more than thirty articles across the many NCTE journals, and helping to found the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning (Blau). In addition to his core pedagogical contributions, and in particular his paired 1968 publications, Teaching the Universe of Discourse and Student-Centered Language Arts, Moffett's prescience and foresight in advancing holistic assessment, progressive education, the centrality of peer-to-peer interactions, social emotional learning, and multicultural and multilingual curriculum led him to be referred to by many as “the North Star” of language arts education (Durst; Spalding et al.).

Publication Information: Moffett, James. (2022). Coming on Center: English Education in Evolution. The WAC Clearinghouse. (Originally published by Boynton/Cook in 1981)

Publication Date: November 11, 2022

Landmark Publications in Writing Studies

Series Editor: Mike Palmquist, Colorado State University

Acrobat Reader DownloadThis book is available in whole and in part in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF).

Copyright © 2022 by the Estate of James Porter Moffett. Republished with permission. You may view this book. You may print personal copies of this book. You may link to this page. You may not reproduce this book on another website. For permission to use materials from this book in other publications, please contact Jonathan Marine at