Shirley Brice Heath

Biography of Shirley Brice Heath

Provided below is a general-purpose brief biography for adaptation in conference programs:

bioportrait | Shirley Brice Heath

Shirley Brice Heath, linguistic anthropologist, studies learners across the life span in non-formal environments of learning. She gives primary focus to the ways in which speakers, young and old, learn the structures and uses of language as well as the attitudes, gestures, and interactional ways called for in learning environments of all types. In community arts organizations, she has examined the learning outcomes that result when youth living in under-resourced communities participate in planning, creating, producing, and critiquing products and performances. Within community sites dedicated to involving young people in sustained science learning, she has given special attention to the ways in which science learning demands close analysis of visual detail, trial and error, sketching and modeling projects, and strategic problem-solving. In her research on families, friendship groups, and community organizations, she studies how responsible roles accelerate desires for organizational, scientific, and mathematical knowledge.

She is the author of Words at work and play: three decades in families and communities (2012) and the classic Ways with Words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms (Cambridge University Press, 1983/1996). Heath has taught at universities throughout the world, most notably Stanford University and Brown University, and as Visiting Research Professor at King's College, University of London. Of particular note are Heath's publications written for community advocates of creating environments in which the arts and sciences are both viewed as essential to building highly effective learning environments. In 2004, with Shelby Wolf, she published for teachers and arts practitioners a series on "visual learning"; in 2005, a similar series on learning through drama and in arts and science project-based work was published. In several nations, she has studied youth-based community organizations in which the young devote themselves to environmental projects, social justice, enterprise development, and educational inclusion. Her resource guide and prize-winning documentary ArtShow (2000) features young leaders in four interracial and cross-class community arts organizations in the United States. She also directed and produced two short documentaries on youth organizations dedicated to the sustainable agriculture and environmental architecture. These are available with ArtShow on a DVD (2005) entitled ArtShow 2 Grow.

For further biographical information, see Appendix A of Words at work and play (2012) and the prologue to Ways with words: language life, and work in communities and classrooms (1983/1996).


Shirley Brice Heath