Esther Sokolov Fine

Senior Scholar, Professor Emeritus (Retired)

B.A, - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan; B.Ed. - Ontario Teachers' College, Toronto, Canada; M.Ed. - University of Toronto, OISE, Toronto, Canada; Doctorate - University of Toronto, OISE, Toronto, Canada; Master of Fine Arts - Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, Vermont

Location(s) / Contact Info:

Winters College - WC
Keele Campus


Website: Children as Peacemakers; Publicly Funded Alternative Schooling in the GTA

Available to supervise graduate students


Professor Esther Sokolov Fine is an Associate Professor of Education in the Faculty of Education at York University, where she has taught since 1991. Before coming to York, she was an elementary teacher with the Toronto Board of Education. There, she taught in downtown public housing communities and alternative programs, including four years of teaching at the Downtown Alternative School.  The book Children as Peacemakers (Heinemann, 1995), which she co-authored with teachers Ann Lacey and Joan Baer, presents a history of the Downtown Alternative School (DAS). Esther Fine has conducted video research in Toronto’s Regent Park and at the Downtown Alternative School since the 1980s.  In her most recent retrospective research with the former DAS community, she bridges earlier data and video footage with recent interviews in a fifteen-years-later study.  These interviews, along with articles and narratives, can be accessed through her website (, along with segments from the feature length video: “LIFE AT SCHOOL: THE DAS TAPES” (co-produced with filmmakers Roberta King and Ron Squire, King Squire Films Ltd., 2001).  Esther teaches pre-service and graduate courses in creative writing, developmental and critical literacy, adolescent and children’s literature, critical pedagogy, and models of education.

Scholarly Interests

Peacemaking and conflict resolution, diversity and social justice, alternative models of schooling, language and literacy, creative writing

Faculty & School/Dept

  • Faculty of Education

Selected Publications

  • (2013). Publicly Funded Alternative Schooling in the GTA. Retreived November 2012 from
  • Bascia, N. & Fine, E. (2012) Alternative Schools: Issues and Models, a report prepared for the Toronto Catholic District School Board, for study on Public Alternative Schooling in the GTA. Toronto Catholic District School Board.
  • (2012). Children As Peacemakers. Retreived January 2012 from, 19-26.
  • JimĂ©nez, K. & Fine, E. (2009). Safe Walk Home: cultural literacy in the Regent Park community. Vitae Scholastics , 26 (1), 80-97.
  • Fine, E. (2003). Out there with the Kids: why bother?. Language Arts, 81 (1), 34-42.
  • Fine, E. (2003). Storytime. Talking Points, 15 (1).
  • Fine, E. (2002). Play Time. Talking Points , 14 (1), 2-6.
  • Fine, E. (1997). Learning the Language of Peacemaking: researching the early moments . Canadian Association of Young Children, 22 (2), 18-22.
  • Fine, E. (1997). Shaping and Re-shaping Practice: teacher education and the preparation of peacemaking teachers.36 (1), 53-58.
  • Dudley-Marling, C. & Fine, E. (1997). The Politics of Whole Language. Reading and Writing Quarterly , 13 (3), 247-260.
  • Fine, E. Lacey, A, & Baer, J. (1995). Children as Peacemakers. Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S.A.: Heinemann
  • Susan Stires (1995). Primary Voices: Conflict Resolution. In Fine, E., Norquay, N. (Ed.), Primary Voices K-6Vol. Second Year Collection, ). Urbana, Illinois, U.S.A.: National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
  • Fine, E. (1995). Peace Talk. English Quarterly, 27 (4), 4-9.
  • Fine, E. (1994). Peacemaking as a Tool for Change.. Primary Voices K-6, 2 (4), 2-3.
  • Fine, E. (1989). Collaborative Writing: key to unlocking the silences of children.. Language Arts, 66 (5), 501-509.
  • Fine, E. (1987). Marbles Lost, Marbles Found: collaborative production of text.. Language Arts, 64 (5), 474-489.

Research Projects

Difficult Conversations: the pedagogy and practice of negotiating in elementary schooling

Role: Principal Investigator

Amount funded: $$81, 203

Year Funded: 2003

Duration: 7

Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

Film Shorts from Research Interviews (SSHRC Funded) with filmmaker Roberta King, King Squire Films Ltd. (see on website The Peaceosaurus 2011. Animated film for children, co-produced with filmmaker/ animator Barbara Taylor (Coyle Productions).

Life at School: The DAS Tapes

Role: Principal Investigator

Amount funded: $$81,000

Year Funded: 1993

Duration: 3

Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

From project: Children as Peacemakers (2001). Documentary feature with filmmakers Roberta King & Ron Squire (King Squire Films Ltd.)

Professional Affiliations

  • National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
  • Whole Language Umbrella: Past Treasurer
  • CSSE
  • Alternative Schools Advisory Council, Toronto District School Board

York University Affiliations/Cross Appointments

  • York University Senate: voting member winter 2012
  • YCEC (York Centre for Community and Education): affiliate researcher

Service/Community Activities

  • Alternative Schools Advisory Council, Toronto District School Board
  • Regent Park Consectutive Site Advisory Council
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board: Co-researcher. Team Research on Alternative Schooling.