In This Issue
What is Popular Education?
ARTICLE: Under the Radar...
Gatherings
INTERVIEW: Larry Olds
Links to Change!
What is Popular Education?
Popular education is the education in popular movements, i.e., democratic social movements against oppression and violence, and for sustainability, human rights, justice and peace. The point of view of this newsletter is that popular education is a broad framework of political and pedagogical principles from which all who do education can learn - whether they are community organizers, activists, community based educators, or classroom teachers. These principles have multiple roots. Among those roots are:
  • the work of Paulo Freire and the many who were inspired by his work - including their rich contributions for social analysis and using the arts in education and organizing
  • Myles Horton and the Highlander Center who knew which side they were on - their simple and powerful processes helped communities name their problems and figure out what to do about them
  • The Training Movement that included the materials developed by the National Training Laboratory - materials that include many participatory activities focusing on communication skills, group work, simulations, etc., tools for building a better society
  • the feminist movement that brought new issues to the foreground and a new language of equity to popular education work.
Popular education provides inspiration and hope to communities and people in them who are struggling against oppression and violence. It brings a wide range of resources for improving and strengthening educational work, starting from personal experience, and moving to shared and social understanding.  

 

Democratic, participatory educational methods that create inclusion, give voice, and honor each person's humanity are central to this approach. It is centered on people's knowledge, providing tools to help people identify what they know, acknowledging people's understanding of their own problems and having faith in people's ability to find and create the knowledge they need to solve them.

 

It provides a rich repertoire of the use of music, theater, and the arts in educational work. Finally, it builds on actions for democratic change and emphasizes systematic techniques and tools for reflection on that action.
 
Building Community
ARTICLE: Under the Radar-Popular Education in North America by Drick Boyd (Eastern University)
 
Drick Boyd
During  a  sabbatical  in the  spring  of  2011  I  set  out  on  the  modest  goal  of  learning  about  the  current  work   of  popular  educators  in  North  America.  My  objectives  of  this  project  were  two-­-fold.  First,  I  wanted  to   see  what  was  actually  happening  on  the  ground  in  the  world  of  popular  education,  since  in  both  the   scholarly  literature  as  well  as  adult  education  conferences,  popular  education  was  noticeably  absent,   and  was  only  nostalgically  referenced  as  something  that  happened  in  the  past.  I  knew  from   conversations  and  experiences  such  was  not  the  case,  but  I  wanted  to  find  out  firsthand  what  popular   educators  were  doing,  and  how  they  conceived  of,  financed,  and  organized  their  work.  My  second   objective  was  to  use  the  knowledge  gathered  from  the  research  to  develop  a  start-­-up  plan  for  a  popular   education  center  in  the  city  of  Philadelphia  where  I  live  and  work.  I  wanted  to  learn  from  practitioners,   and  hopefully  build  on  their  insights  and  avoid  some  of  their  mistakes.  As  a  result  many  of  my  questions   were  functional  and  logistical  in  nature:  Where  does  funding  come  from?  How  do  you  decide  on  which   issues  or  which  groups  to  work  with?  Do  you  have  a  board?  If  so,  what  are  their  responsibilities?  How  do   you  organize  the  work?  How  do  you  measure  success?  What  do  you  conceive  popular  education  to  be?
Issue: #71MARCH 2012
Greetings!

This is the first issue continuing the publication of a digital version of the Popular Education News. Larry Olds, the former publisher of the Enewsletter, has passed on the mailing lists that included your address. Working in the field of sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and economic social justice, I found that "popular education" is alive in the local food, transition town, and occupy movements across the nationa and on the international scale.

As an oKim w/ box of baby spinachrganic small-scale vegetable & shiitake mushroom farmer, I see the use of popular education at the farmers' markets, rural revitalization, migrant labor, and community building. Moving from the city to the country was not an easy transition however it brought me back to the critical connection of our dependancy to land resources. As I move forward with mentorship from Larry and Drick  Boyd from Eastern University in creating these Enewsletters, I hope you find it to be both informative and connective to your life's work.

 

In Solidarity,
Kim Walsh 
GATHERINGS to Learn, Connect, & ACT!
2012 Advanced Story-based Strategy Practitioner's Training:
Framing and Narrative Strategy for Social Change Strategists,
Communicators and Organizers
Essex, MA (April 15-19 2012)
 
Training for Trainers for People of Color
April 20-23, 2012 - Applications due March 19th!

 

18th Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference
Interpreting the World, Changing the World
 
Berkeley, California, USA (May 31-June 3, 2012)

 

Portland, OR (August 1-5, 2012)

 

Training for Change Upcoming Workshops:
The White House Project Upcoming Trainings: 
  • Denver Go Lead-History of Colorado Women & Politics           March 21, 2012: Denver, CO
  • Miss Representation Film Screening                                     March 27, 2012: Greeley, CO
  • Tenth Anniversary EPIC Awards                                             April 5, 2012: New York, NY
  • Go Lead-Denver                                                                    April 18, 2012: Denver, CO
  • Go Lead-Leveraging Strengths for Your Personal Brand            April 24, 2012: Minneapolis, MN

 

 

INTERVIEW: Larry Olds
Larry Olds
How did you get your start in popular education?
 
In the late 1960's and early 1970s, I was deeply involved with the alternative schools movement and working in teacher training with the College of Education at the University of Minnesota. We had started a free school that opened in the fall of 1970, a high school that was attended by mostly middle class students who were responding to the 60s milieu and were dissatisfied with their former public schools. After a time I was feeling uneasy with our failures in bringing diversity to our efforts. My earlier experience had been in Africa, in the War on Poverty with the education in rural Job Corps centers, and in Minneapolis Public School program for former drop outs - all contexts that put racial equity and oppression on our agenda. As a subscriber to the  Harvard Educational Review engaged in understanding as much as I could about education and schooling, I read two articles by Paulo Freire that were published in that magazine. A short time later Pedagogy of the Oppressed was published in English and with a group of friends we started a study group about the book, a group that continued to meet for more than a year. The ideas of Freire changed the way I thought about my work as an educator.

 

How did your ideas develop? 

 

I identify four main roots of my popular education outlook: 1) Paulo Freire and the Latin Americans who followed and developed his ideas in practice; 2) Highlander and the folk school tradition; 3) The Training Movement that developed a wide range of participatory activities confronting social realities; and 4) the women's movement that brought the many dimensions of gender to the fore. In the personal timeline, I color code highlights of my experience with each of those roots - Freire (green); Highlander and folk schools (pink); training movement (yellow); and women's movement (purple). In the chart there are a few other important experiences in other colors.

 

Mindmap 
What has allowed you to sustain your participation in popular education and social movements?

 

Once a vision is formed of the possibility of social justice and a peaceful world, I don't see any way to step back from working towards that end. By the late 1960s, I had spent nearly three years in Africa and made the overland journeys from Europe to Singapore and back, experiences that showed me dramatically the relationship between my relative wealth and poverty in the world. As I mentioned above I was working in teacher training at the University of Minnesota when I encountered Paulo Freire and shortly after that was introduced to critical theory by colleagues in the Radical Caucus of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum. These developments led to my turning away from a career in teacher education. Fortunately after a difficult year and a half of unemployment, I found my lifework as an adult educator at Metro Community College. During my 26 years at the college I was able to have the luxury of my teaching job being part of my work for social justice and peace. And during that time was able to connect to and be inspired by people I met with the International Council for Adult Education, The Participatory Research Group, The Highlander Center, and other organizations of adult educators for empowerment and social change. When I ended my job at the end of 1999 with enough so I didn't have to work for money in the new millennium, I was able to continue the work.

 

Why is popular education important for our times?

 

There is still much to do to make a better world. Those for whom education is either their primary work or is part of organizing and activism, can find in popular education things that will help - in the words of the mission of the Popular Education News: to improve the educational work against oppression and violence and for democracy, sustainability, justice, and peace. We can do better - and there are still roads to be built by our walking.

 

What niche did you fill in developing the Popular Education News?

 

When the North American Alliance for Popular and Adult Education finally gave up all but the ghost after the 2001 World Assembly of Adult Education in Jamaica, there was no longer any network to communicate about popular education gatherings and popular education materials. For more than 25 years I had been collecting materials for my personal library, materials that were not well known among organizers and activists, nor among adult educators for that matter. These materials, and having met many of the people producing them, had been an inspiration in my own work. Gathering the materials together for the use of organizers, activists, and community-based educators in my own community was something I could do. I both began to build the library of materials to add to the library at the Resource Center of the Americas and began The Popular Education News to let people know about old and new materials I thought might be helpful in popular education and community organizing work. And I did my best to find "Where Popular Educators Will Gather" and publicize that in the newsletter and on the web site.

 

It has been as the question suggests, a niche. But then one of my hopes for my life is to be a cog on the big wheel of social change. I am pleased that others are continuing. There is much still to be done. The work continues.
 

Chesapeake Education, Arts and Research Society | PO Box 1841 | Greenbelt | MD | 20768