I’ve only read the excerpt here. I note that he was a Stuyvesant HS student, which I assume is the elite public HS in NYC since …..a long time(?) I believe Thelonious Monk was a student there. I know a couple of people who graduated there, and they are impressive.
My point—Gilyard was a high achieving student. Yes, he was “interrupted” by getting into drugs and crime. But he had to have had a strong foundation in traditional “academics.” So it’s not surprising to me he went on to be a professor and a writer.
For instance, to me, the excerpt we read is “standard written English.”
Not to say our students couldn’t do the same thing, or go on to be successful. But many of the students who have difficulty at City Tech do not have a strong “academic” foundation. We all know it’s easy to teach students who already have the “basics.”
Thus, we return to the same problem as from the beginning. How to engage the student who is not already motivated and “prepared” in a traditional academic sense.