A Narrative Bio

Jerome C. Harste, better known as “Jerry” or just plain “Harste” to hundreds of children and teachers, is a children’s book author (e.g., It Didn’t Frighten Me!, My Icky Picky Sister) as well as an author of numerous professional books and other publications (e.g., Beyond Reading and Writing: Curriculum, Inquiry &  Multiple Ways of Knowing, Language Stories & Literacy Lessons, Creating Classrooms for Authors and Inquirers, Whole Language: Inquiring Voices Want to Know, New Policy Guidelines for Reading, Creating Critical Classrooms, Teaching Children’s Literature:  It’s Critical; Negotiating Critical Literacies with Teachers). In addition he has developed and hosted several videotape series which are available through Heinemann Publishing, The Authoring Cycle, Visions of Literacy).

Dr. Harste’s areas of expertise are socio-psycholinguistics, social semiotics, reading comprehension, reading teacher education, early literacy, and more recently, critical literacy.  Although he is officially retired from Indiana University, he continues to work as an Adjunct Professor for the Mount Saint Vincent University’s graduate program in literacy.  This program involves working with teachers over a two-year period in the Toronto and Mississagua areas of Canada.  He also often guest lectures in Halifax, Corner Brook, and Gander as part of this program.

Along with Dr. Carolyn Burke and Dr. Virginia Woodward, Dr. Harste made his name in Language Education through studies of early literacy. Their ten-year study of 3, 4, 5, and 6 year-olds learning to read and write broke pioneering ground and won them the David H. Russell Research Award for outstanding contributions to the teaching of English from the National Council of Teachers of English (Harste, Woodward, & Burke, 1984).  In 2008 Drs. Harste and Burke were recognized as Outstanding Language Arts Educators by the Elementary Section of the National Council of Teachers of English.  In 2013 Dr. Harste was given the Oscar Causey Award for Outstanding Contributions to Reading Research by the Literacy Researchers Association.  In 1997 Dr. Harste was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame.

Dr. Harste holds the distinction of being named the first Martha Lea & Bill Armstrong Chair in Teacher Education within the School of Education at Indiana University. As early as 1976, Dr. Harste argued that the teaching and learning of reading was theoretically based (Harste & Burke, 1977-78). Since that time Dr. Harste and his colleagues have studied what reading and writing strategies students are likely to exhibit when coming from rooms where teachers hold alternate theoretical beliefs about language and language learning – what they call a skills, a phonics, or a whole language model of reading (DeFord & Harste, 1983). Their efforts to continue to theorize whole language led to an advocacy for holistic and inquiry-based education (Harste, Short, w/ Burke, 1988; Short, Harste, w/ Burke, 1996; Harste, 1990).

In 1990. Dr. Harste and Dr. Christine Leland, together with a group of teachers from Indianapolis, created a new multiage, public, K-8, inner-city school featuring children’s literature, inquiry-based learning, critical literacy, and a multiple ways of knowing curriculum. Currently the Center for Inquiry (CFI) serves as a professional development site for IUPUI’s teacher education program. What makes this program unique is that it is focused on the preparation of urban elementary and middle school teachers (Harste, Leland, Schmidt, Oceipka, & Vasquez, 1999, 2004).  In 2000 it was identified as one of the top teacher education programs in the nation by the International Reading Association.  In September of 2013 it will celebrate its 20th year of operation.  There are now five CFI’s in the Indianapolis Public School Systems serving students from K to 12th grade.

Dr. Harste has always been actively involved in professional organizations. As President of the National Council of Teachers of English (1999-2000) he advocated for a diversity and difference model of education (see Recent Publications). Over the years he has chaired the Diversity Task Force within the National Council of Teachers of English, been Co-Chair of NCTE & IRA’s Joint Task Force  on Critical Literacy, chaired NCTE’s Commission on Reading, IRA’s Sociolinguistic-Psycholinguistic Interest Group, and been on the Board of Directors of the International Reading Association. He also is Past President of several other literacy organizations including the Whole Language Umbrella, the National Reading Conference (now the Literacy Researcher Association), and the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy (formerly NRCE). In addition to serving as Treasurer for the Center for the Expansion of Language and Thinking for the past 20 years, Dr. Harste is also  a founding member of the Bloomington TAWL.  Dr. Harste has received the Special Service Award from IRA, the Distinguished Service Award from NCTE, and the Albert Kingston Service Award from LRA.

Dr. Harste continues to do research.  He and his co-researchers have presented papers on first-person shooter games, how becoming visually literate, using “social issues” children’s books, and engagement in the arts support the development of critical literacy. Currently he is researching what engaging in the arts has to do with being literate in the 21st Century. To that end — and ever since his retirement — Dr. Harste has been taking watercolor classes.  Currently he has earned “Signature Status” in the Missouri Watercolor Society and in the Bloomington Watercolor Society.  ”Signature Status” is much like a promotion from assistant to associate professor in the literacy world and signals that his artistic abilities have been recognized by fellow artists.  In October he will have his first one-man art show.