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Another great online history source: American Social History Project

The American Social History Project is a rich source of material and teaching ideas/tools. "American" here means USA, mostly, but the building of "America" is one of the themes they explore well.

I still meet people who got their labor history through Labor's Untold Story or their alternative US history through Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States, but haven't read Who Built America?, which, in my opinion is much better.

http://ashp.cuny.edu/

A great resource online for free

How great to have this labor and social history teaching resource online for free. I hope others will add new lessons and comments. I still recall the time I did the Organic Goodie activity with IBEW apprentices -- a huge guy finally stood up and seized "the machine", holding it high above his head (far out of my reach). The question: what to do next?

http://zinnedproject.org/materials/power-in-our-hands/

This is not what democracy looks like...

In an English for Activists class on Occupy, Aki Owada had an idea for how to discuss the question: "What is democracy?" Instead of asking people to talk about what democracy is, she asked everyone to give examples of experiences they have had that were not democratic. (This is the same basic idea as the nightmare scenario, using the opposite as an entry way into a discussion.)

Here's what we came up with:

  • Police telling me I can't cross the street at a demonstration. The young activists said, "be patient Grandmother!" But I don't want to be patient!

UCM Instrumento Evoluciona! Personal, Family, Community, City, Country, Nation y el Mundo como Espiral

UCM
Instrumento
Evoluciona!
Personal, Family, Community, City, Country, Nation
y
el Mundo
como
Espiral
por John Kendell Graham
2004

The Paradigm Shift El Cambio de la Paradigma
LIBERATION THROUGH EDUCATION FOR HUMAN GOVERNMENT
LIBERACIÓN POR MEDIO DE LA EDUCACIÓN PARA UN GOBIERNO HUMANO

Horizontal Pedagogy

What is the problem tree for?

Had an interesting conversation about the problem tree activity with some people who are using it in the context of a migrant worker organizing project. As part of a series of monthly worker assemblies, they are facilitating a three part problem tree activity -- one session for generating the leaves, another for the branches/trunk, a third for the roots. Where to go after that is not settled, it seems, but they seem to be thinking of some kind of discussion of solutions.

Technique and Content

It is often said that popular education is not about the participatory techniques that we use (or not just about the techniques), it is about the content. One argument is that techniques are just tools that can be used for good or bad purposes, to liberate or to enslave. I remember Neville Alexander making this point in Education and the Struggle for National Liberation in Southern Africa. He writes that after Freire was exiled from Brazil the military junta used some of his techniques to conduct pro-government literacy education.

Regarding games

Reading Ranciere on Jacotot (Ignorant Schoolmaster) I have been thinking about the idea of constraint, of force, or the subordination of one will to another without sacrificing the equality of intelligences. ("Entre l'eleve et le maitre s'etait etabli un pur rapport de volonte a volunte..."p25) The student's will is subjected to that of the teacher, but the intelligences of the teacher and student are separate and equal.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...

I made this one up for the English for Activists class I teach. The first class of the new season came one month after the 3/11/2011 great Tohoku Earthquake and resulting nuclear disaster, on the day the disaster was rated a Level 7 -- the highest level of nuclear accident on a global scale.

I wanted a way for the group to share about this enormous disaster that we all confront and all share. Inspired by the "Head, Heart, and Hands" activity in Educating for a Change, I drew six icons on index cards: a heart, an ear, an eye, a hand, a mouth, and a question mark. (I made three sets.)

Oni ha soto! (Demons out!)

This role play activity is based on setsubun, the Japanese festival of the coming spring, held in early February. One feature of setsubun is the mamemaki, ritual bean-throwing to chase away demons. I learned from a local shinto priest that the practice is based on the peasants' struggle to survive the winter. The demons represent hunger, death, disease and the beans -- the most nutritious food available at that time of year -- represent health and potential growth, the power to survive until spring.

The flow:

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