Lifeline to a Soul: The Life-Changing Perspective I Gained While Teaching Entrepreneurship to Prisoners by John K. McLaughlin
After devoting half of his lifetime transforming his start-up business into a multi-million dollar industry leader, author John McLaughlin set out in a new direction: to teach what he had learned to others.
Due to a lack of teaching experience, his only job offer was to teach entrepreneurship to prisoners at a minimum-security camp in North Carolina. John gradually builds an effective program until a scandal involving prison officials blindsides his progress and threatens to bring his teaching career to an unceremonious end.
Lifeline to a Soul takes the reader inside the fence and chronicles the victories and challenges one man faced as a first-time teacher in the strange world of prison life.
I am a huge fan of books sharing unique, real-life stories by those who took a path different than the norm. Lifeline to a Soul offers just that. The author started his life as an entrepreneur, then one day realized he also wanted to teach business - specifically entrepreneurship.
First there was the challenge of attending school while still running his business. Then, when he was finally ready to spread his wings and fly, he discovered no one wanted him despite all his industry experience. It would be years of applying and being rejected before he finally found a door open, but it wasn't the one he expected. He would be teaching in a prison. McLaughlin didn't have to think about it. He wanted to teach and finally had the opportunity. He didn't care where it was.
From there the author takes us on his journey to connect with his students despite the dehumanizing environment they spent the rest of the time immersed it. Working with limited resources, he had to develop his own curriculum, one that would speak to the wide range of education levels and backgrounds of those he taught. There were some successes, some discourages times, and a constant battle against the negative prison environment.
In the end McLaughlin offers several great insights into how we could change the minimum security prison system to better prepare their inmates for integration back into the real world. I agreed with them all.
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