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THE POPULAR EDUCATION NEWS

NO. 10 NOVEMBER 2003

Connecting popular and community-based educators and activists to resources for improving educational work in social movements against oppression and for democracy, sustainability, social justice, and peace.

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).

TABLE OF CONTENTS

· REVIEWS OF THE MONTH - Ready for Action : A Popular Theatre Popular Education Manual

· OTHER POPULAR THEATER RESOURCES

· LINKS FOR INFO ON POPULAR THEATER

· LINKS TO POPULAR EDUCATION WEB SITES AND ON-LINE BOOKSTORES

· "WHAT IS POPULAR EDUCATION?" DEFINITION OF THE MONTH

 

REVIEWS OF THE MONTH

Ready for Action: A Popular Theatre Popular Education Manual by Jennifer Anderson, Jennifer Michol, Joshua Silverberg. Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG), (Reprinted by the Catalyst Centre), 1994.

This is truly a wonderful book - a gem among many valuable items in the popular education and community organizing resource materials collection.

On one level you can know what the book is about from a formal description: This manual was written by the Enviromaniacs, a popular theatre group at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, in an effort to share knowledge and experience gained by the group in their many years of pop theatre work. It provides an overview of ideas, materials, and resources dealing with popular theatre and popular education, and connects and links the theory to concrete exercises, which comprise the majority of this book. But until you hold the manual in your hand and browse through it, you cannot see and feel the creative ideas that surge within. Among the highlights are the explanations of Popular Education and Popular Theatre, the choice of popular theater and popular education activities, and the delightful drawings that illustrate the clearly laid-out text from cover to cover.

  • The explanation of popular theater - presented in five well organized pages - includes not only a concise definition but a summary of popular theater’s history, methodology, principles, steps in the process, other important features and the benefits.
  • There is a long section on popular theater activities, but it is one of the popular education exercises that catches my eye. That exercise - the Learning Tree: A Tool for Brainstorming -- is a version of the Knowledge Tree, an activity described in the April 2003 issue of The Popular Education News (www.popednews.org ). It is good to see another way to use a tree as a tool for gathering up the experience of workshop participants and placing the knowledge into an analytic context that helps people broaden and deepen their experience and connect to a social context. This is popular education at its best.
  • The drawings need to be seen. They not only animate the text but also provide a visual description of the ideas presented.

The manual, written in 1994, has been reprinted by the Catalyst Centre so it continues to be available. This is one of several classic popular education manuals Catalyst Centre has reprinted. Two others were reviewed in the May 2003 issue of The Popular Education News.

OTHER POPULAR THEATER RESOURCES

Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal. Theatre Communications Group, 1990 Originally based at the Arena Theatre in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Boal developed a series of imaginative theatre exercises which promote awareness of one’s social situation and its limitations, individual attitudes, and even how our bodies are bound by tradition. Boal argues against both Aristotlean and a Brechtian systems of theatre, both of which construct the spectator as passive. Boal’s new Theatre of the Oppressed enables the passive spectators to become active "spect-actors" in a "rehearsal for the revolution." This is Boal’s first book and traces the theoretical and historical basis of this new theatre system.

Games for Actors and Non-Actors by Augusto Boal. Routledge, 1992. A very practical handbook in which three main categories of the Theater of the Oppressed are discussed and illustrated with the "arsenal of games": image theater, invisible theater, and forum theater. Suitable for the trained and untrained performer and educator. The dual meaning of the word "act"-- to perform and to take action -- is at the heart of this work.

The Rainbow of Desire by Augusto Boal. Routledge, 1995. The Rainbow of Desire is a handbook of exercises with a difference. It is Augusto Boal’s bold and brilliant statement about the therapeutic potential of theatre to transform lives. Now translated into English and fully and comprehensively updated from the French, The Rainbow of Desire sets out the techniques which help us “see” for the first time the oppressions we have internalized. Boal, a Brazilian theatre director, writer and politician, has been confronting oppression in various forms for over thirty years. His belief that theatre enables us to create rather than wait for the future has inspired people all over the world to use his techniques in a multitude of settings.

LINKS FOR INFO ON POPULAR THEATER

Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed http://www.unomaha.edu/~pto/

Theater Action Project http://www.theatreactionproject.org/links.php

The Bay Area Popular Theater Project http://www.rasmo.net/poptheaterframe.html

Popular Theater Performances from Art for a Fair Economy http://www.ufenet.org/activist/creative/popular_theater.html

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 )

*IPEA (www.peopleseducation.org/ )

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

*Growing Communities for Peace (www.humanrightsandpeacestore.org">www.humanrightsandpeacestore.org )

Project South (www.projectsouth.org )

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

Pop Ed 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

In our opinion, Popular Education is fundamentally defined according to its objective. In other words, the teaching/learning processes acquire the trait of "popular" insofar as these respond to the needs and interests of the vast majorities. We have seen these needs systemized in three dimensions, namely: dimension of base, of development, and of social change.

  • In our countries, basic needs are those requirements for individual and group survival and subsistence. An education which does not place itself at the service of this need, turns out to be anti-historic to our peoples. Thus, Popular Education in Latin America combines its practice with strategies of survival, human rights, health, nutrition, etc.
  • It is obvious that the intention is not simply to educate for "the preservation of the species." Human progress requires organic, social, economic, scientific and technological development of the people. As such, to educate with a popular perspective means to include these aspects as a dimension for the needs of popular sectors.
  • Nevertheless, in Third World countries it is a verifiable historic fact that there are no profound solutions or answers to be found to the basic needs and development, if a structural transformation of our societies does not take place. So social change turns out to be an historical need as well. As such, every "popular" education effort has to radically (and from its roots) become an instrument of change. For this reason, its target should be to raise awareness and organization levels of popular sectors in such a manner that popular power gradually gains a co-relation of strengths in the social movement and that it collaborates with the social revolution demanded by our peoples.

Excerpt from : "Popular and Adult Education" by Sigfredo Chiroque, President of Instituto de Pedagogia Popular, Lima, Peru, in Adult Education and Development

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Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. -- West African proverb
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This newsletter is produced by the Popular Education Resource Collection Circle. Betsy Barnum and Larry Olds worked on this issue. You can contribute to future issues by sending suggestions, notices of materials and short reviews to lolds@popednews.org. Help improve the newsletter. Subscribe by sending your email address to lolds@popednews.org.