THE POPULAR EDUCATION NEWS
NO. 3 MARCH 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 with some titles also in Spanish. An annotated bibliography with links to where to purchase materials is at www.americas.org (follow popular education link).
This newsletter is produced by the Popular Education Resource Collection Member Circle of the Resource Center of the Americas. Betsy Barnum, Larry Olds and Kristi Papenfuss worked on this issue. You can contribute to future issues by sending suggestions, notices of materials you know about and short reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
· REVIEW OF THE MONTH - Education for Changing Unions
· A POPULAR EDUCATION TOOL FOR THE MONTH - TIMELINES
· TIMELINES RESOURCES
· LINKS TO POPULAR EDUCATION WEB SITES AND ONLINE BOOKSTORES
· "WHAT IS POPULAR EDUCATION?" DEFINITION OF THE MONTH
REVIEW OF THE MONTH
Education for Changing Unions by Bev Burke, Jojo Geronimo, D’Arcy Martin, Barb Thomas, and Carol Wall. Between the Lines Press, Toronto, 2003.
Education for Changing Unions is a compilation of experiences, knowledge, and reflection on the use of education in unions. It consciously plays with the word "changing," - to paraphrase the authors in their introduction - by celebrating the unions that are using education as a strategy of change as well as supporting activists who are working to increase the will and capacity of unions. To quote from the book’s Forward by Elaine Bernard, Executive Director, Harvard Trade Union Program, the books is "One third labour education toolkit, one third autobiography, and one third reflective conversation on the craft of union education."
The five authors are seasoned labor and community educators who have contributed their life work and personal wisdom to this collaborative piece. With thoughtfulness, they outline the complexities, possibilities, pitfalls, challenges, and opportunities involved in union organizing and union education.
Education for Changing Unions is a rich, stimulating, and provocative storehouse of ideas, practical exercises and debate about union education. It is written in a clear and accessible style, designed to inspire and empower working people and activists in many settings and locations. It celebrates the effectiveness of union education in promoting social change and supports activists working to strengthen democracy and participation within unions.
In short, Education for Changing Unions is an excellent book that provides creative ideas and practical tools in popular education and worker education. It is an important contribution to the field, and a great resource for the popular educators and union activists of today and tomorrow.
A POPULAR EDUCATION TOOL FOR THE MONTH TIMELINE GROUNDS CORPORATE RULE WORKSHOP IN PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT HISTORY
The popular education timeline is a particularly flexible and useful tool in doing workshops about corporate rule.
A group of people involved in the Campaign to Abolish Corporate Personhood (a project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) here in Minneapolis developed a timeline we call the "personhood timeline" covering the past 200+ years of US history. The timeline charts social movements for liberation such as abolition, women’s suffrage, labor, civil rights, gay rights and the anti-corporate-globalization movement as a river flowing across the timeline, and juxtaposes them with the key court cases that secured for corporations of the rights of personhood on one side of the river and major political-economic events of the time period on the other.
After a brief orientation to the information on the timeline, we ask participants to write a few words on a sticky note that signify a personal story of their connection with one of the social movements, and invite them to come forward, put their note on the timeline, and briefly tell their story. The stories are always fascinating and often moving--a great-great aunt who had a house on the underground railroad; a father who was a labor organizer; participation in the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999; experiences of being a freedom rider in the 1960s. Often at least one woman will mention that she can go to college or have credit in her own name because of the women’s movement; or a worker will acknowledge that he owes the 8-hour workday to the labor movement.
Beginning the workshop this way accomplishes several important things. It gets every voice in the room heard in a meaningful way, helping participants know more about each other and some of the experience, knowledge and understanding each person is bringing with them. It engages people personally in the subject matter of the workshop by encouraging them to identify with the issue of "personhood" for people. And it makes connections to broader, deeper understandings the difference between struggles for rights and freedom for people, and the rights and freedom claimed by corporations, the historic context for those struggles, and the relationships between the participants and the struggles.
The rest of the workshop provides a brief history of how corporations got to be legal persons and what this means for democracy and "people personhood," and uses several other participatory methods to make an empowering space for creating actions for "what to do about corporate power" in new and creative ways
The connections made through the timeline become the grounding for creative discourse and problem-solving that participants report generates new ideas, new ways of looking at corporations, and a sense that corporate power isn’t a given but can be challenged.
--Betsy Barnum, Campaign to Abolish Corporate Personhood,
(FFI and resources on campaigns to abolish corporate personhood www.poclad.org or www.wilpf.org/corp/cintro.htm)
Descriptions of different popular education timelines can be found in the following materials in the collection. See above for the link to the web site for more information about the resources below.
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
*Resource Center of the Americas (www.americas.org )
Project South (www.projectsouth.org )
North American Alliance for Popular and Adult Education
Center for Popular Education and Participatory Research (www-gse.berkeley.edu/research/pepr/ )
Popular Education Links Directory
"WHAT IS POPULAR EDUCATION?" DEFINITION OF THE MONTH
KEY PRINCIPLE OF FREIRE
a. No education is ever neutral - education is either domesticating or liberating
b. Relevance - issues of importance now to participants - issues with strong feeling - excitement, hope, fear, anxiety or anger
c. Problem-posing - contrasting to the banking approach to knowledge
d. Dialogue - co-learners, a mutual learning process
e. Reflection and Action (praxis) - the ACTION/REFLECTION SPIRAL
f. Radical transformation - of communities not only individuals
…Abridged from A Very Popular Economic Education Sampler compiled by The Highlander Research and Education Center quoting Training for Transformation A Handbook for Community Workers by Ann Hope and Sally Timmel.
"The foot which is behind follows the foot which is in front." - Sierra Leone proverb