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THE POPULAR EDUCATION NEWS

NO. 7 AUGUST 2003

A monthly newsletter about the Popular Education/Community Organizing Resources Collection in the Penny Lernoux Memorial Library at the Resource Center of the Americas, 3019 Minnehaha Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406. It is a collection of practical materials for facilitators and practitioners to improve the educational work in our movements for democratic social change. The three main parts of the collection are 1) Materials in English, 2) Materials in Spanish, 3) Books by Paulo Freire some titles in Spanish. An annotated bibliography with links to where to purchase materials is at www.americas.org (follow library/popular education link).

This newsletter is produced by the Popular Education Resource Collection Circle. Betsy Barnum, Tom O'Connell, and Larry Olds worked on this issue. You can contribute to future issues by sending suggestions, notices of materials you know about and short reviews to lolds@mtn.org. Please help improve this newsletter.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

REVIEW OF THE MONTH

OTHER POPULAR ECONOMICS EDUCATION MATERIALS

AN EXAMPLE OF USING STORY IN POPULAR EDUCATION WORK

LINKS TO POPULAR EDUCATION WEB SITES AND ONLINE BOOKSTORES

"WHAT IS POPULAR EDUCATION?" DEFINITION OF THE MONTH

REVIEW OF THE MONTH

A VERY POPULAR ECONOMIC EDUCATION SAMPLER Compiled by the Highlander Research and Education Center

How you might wonder, could a book on economics education be " popular," as the title of this excellent publication from Highlander promises? After all, economics is known as the dismal science, as much for the way it is often taught, as from the bleak news it heralds for those unlucky enough to be on the wrong side of today’s global economy. This book addresses both of those problems by presenting an approach that is both highly engaging and aimed at the empowerment of precisely those people who are being exploited by the market system.

The book is organized into three sections an introduction to the principles of popular education, a sampler of excellent work being done by organizations in the U. S. and Canada, and a list of sources for more information. Taken together it offers a useful resource for people interested in designing educational approaches with low income and working class communities in particular, that combine exploration of shared experience, with reflection, analysis, and action. In a more limited way, it can also be useful for progressive educators working in high schools and college settings as well.

In reviewing the various examples, I found myself alternately energized and challenged. I was energized by the quality of work being done and the relevance to my own work in both class room and community. Curriculum designed to challenge commonly held assumptions about the nature of the federal budget, the welfare system, or taxes, can easily be adopted for a variety of uses. In fact, I plan to use the exercise on the federal budget for one of my political studies classes this winter. Similarly, I found material on community building at the neighborhood level, immediately applicable to my work with groups in our university’s immediate neighborhood, the Dayton’s Bluff community in St. Paul. Examples involving labor unions, welfare rights organizations, economic development coalitions, community based literacy programs, were equally useful, if not for my own work directly, for leaders and organizers I have worked with over time.

…Reviewed by Tom O’Connell, Metropolitan State University

 

OTHER POPULAR ECONOMICS EDUCATION MATERIALS

· Unpacking Globalization A Popular Education Toolkit by Economic Literacy Action Network, 2000.

· Women's Education in the Global Economy A Workbook of Activities, Games, Skits, and Strategies for Activisits, Organizers, Rebels and Hell Raisers by Miriam Ching Louie with Linda Burnham. Women of Color Resource Center, 2000

· Today's Globalization by Dan Horowitz de Garcia, Walda Katz-Fishman, Christi Ketchum, Jerome Scott. Project South Institute for the Elimination of Poverty & Genocide, 2002.

· Starting With Women's Lives Changing Today's Economy - A Facilitators Guide to a Visual Workshop Methodology by Suzanne Doerge and Bev Burke. Women's Inter-Church Council of Canada and the Canadian Labour Congress, 2000.

AN EXAMPLE OF USING STORY IN POPULAR EDUCATION WORK

I have heard the following story several times in difference versions. I don’t know the origins of the original or even what the original said. It is a good example of a story that can be used to as an animating tool in popular educational work.

A group of people who are sitting near the banks of a swift moving stream on a beautiful spring day. Their idyllic conversation is suddenly interrupted by a small child floating, bobbing in the water, desperately trying to keep its head above the water. Quickly the members of group link hands and are able to reach the child and pull it to safety. No sooner to they have all gotten back on shore when another child appears struggling in the water. Again they quickly join together and get the second child to safety. When another child, and another, appear being swept down the fast moving stream, one of the members of the group begins to run upstream. The others shout at her, "where are you going? Why don't you help?" She calls back over her shoulder, "A couple of you come with me, the rest stay and save the children. We have to stop the bastards that are throwing them in."

In this version I have changed the story as it was when I first heard it. I have added the ideas of collective action to save the children, women’s leadership, and the need to work simultaneously on two tasks.

In a workshop I might ask small groups of three or four people to discuss the story and add other variations. As a short activity groups could be asked only that, in a longer version they might also collectively re-craft the story and share the new versions with the larger group.

…By Larry Olds

LINKS TO POPULAR EDUCATION WEB SITES AND ONLINE BOOKSTORES (*those with online bookstores)

*Catalyst Centre (www.catalystcentre.ca/index.htm )

*Highlander Center (www.highlandercenter.org )

*Institute for Peoples Education and Action

(www.peopleseducation.org/ )

*Resource Center of the Americas (www.americas.org )

Project South (www.projectsouth.org )

North American Alliance for Popular and Adult Education

(www.naapae.org )

Center for Popular Education and Participatory Research (www-gse.berkeley.edu/research/pepr/ )

Popular Education Links Directory

(www.flora.org/mike/links/poped.html)

WE LEARN Women Expanding-Literacy Education Action Resource Network(http//www.litwomen.org/news/issue1.html)

 

"WHAT IS POPULAR EDUCATION?" DEFINITION OF THE MONTH

Popular education is defined as people’s education; it is not the education of the system. It is defined as an alternative to the dominate system. It is not new.

It has importance today in two contexts (1) revolutionary societies like Nicaragua (2) repressive situations like Chile. Why is it important? In the dominate system people’s subjectivity is ignored. Capitalist development under fascist dictatorship atomizes people there is a loss of faith, identity, personality as they are integrated into the marketplace. In this situation popular education can be defined as an effort to reconstruct the people.

Popular education characteristics

· It starts from the concrete, from popular culture

· It is a process of creating knowledge (related to participatory research)

· It is directed to the specific kind of action called "praxis" (directed toward structural social change)

· It avoids manipulation popular education is a process consistent with the new social order which is to rise

· It is a collective affair. Solidarity, cooperation, and organization are encouraged

· It is a permanent and flexible process

The goal is that people themselves become actors in creation of an alternative society. Popular Education doesn’t reach its potential limited to popular organizations, but is located within economic power and power over daily life. This is all participatory and different than a party or attacking hierarchy. It leads to step-by-step, gradual appropriation of all the small spaces that exist in society.

"Pinochet is there not only because he has an army but because also we have a small Pinochet in us."

…From a presentation by Francisco Vio Grossi of Chile, then the General Secretary of the Latin American Council for Adult Education (CEAAL), at a meeting at the Highlander Center in Tennessee in 1983

 

What to be for if you are against war.

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(Back Issues Jan - Project South, Feb - Best Pop Ed Book, Mar - Pop Ed for Unions, Apr - Environ Pop Ed, May - 2 Pop Ed Classics, June-July - Kingian Nonviolence)