Welcome to Rolling Earth

This website offers tools for education for democratic self-organization and reflections on their use. I hope it will provide a space for discussion and exploration of the use of "popular education" in movement building -- guided by a commitment to equality and democracy. See the website guidelines for more about the mechanics of the site. - Matt Noyes

Teach the chair

Teaching is the best way to learn. Why? Because what we call teaching is usually a combination of actions, attitudes, and responsibilities that make for good learning. The teacher is fully engaged and active, often acting with strong motivation, clear goals, and a sense of responsibility not just for the material and her/his own action, but also for others and for the group as a whole. "Student," on the other hand, often describes a very limited range of activity.

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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/

Most people would say...

I learned this game at Kani Club, the theater improvisation group in Tokyo, Japan. The game asks participants to filter their free association through their sense of what others might say. The object is to avoid "idiocy" -- in the sense of being isolated in one's thinking. At the same time, the "idiotic" answers are often reasonable or creative.

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That's how I feel.

Adapted from "Busca tu cancion" in 101 juegos musicales. See also I second that (e)motion.

The joker writes down three to 10 emotions on index cards, two cards per emotion. (One set of three if you have an odd number of participants.) There should be as many cards as participants.

Shuffle the cards, keeping them face down, and have people pick a card, keeping it hidden from others.

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That's my song!

Slightly adapted from "Busca tu cancion" in 101 juegos musicales.

Choose three or four songs that are probably known to everyone in the group and write each song's title on two index cards. (Or ask each participant to choose a song that they think everyone will know, writing the title on two index cards.) You should have as many cards as participants. (For odd numbered groups, add an extra card for one song.)

Shuffle the cards and have participants each choose one card, being careful not to show it to others.

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Argument Clinic

In this activity a "client" enters an Argument Clinic like the one in the famous Monty Python sketch.

As in the original, one person is the client, the other the Arguer. Also as in the original, there is a time limit.

The objective is simple: to argue just for the sake of arguing. No need to repeat the Monty Python sketch, just feel free to be disagreeable, contentious, contrary.

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The Flattery Clinic: Client enters room. Greets flatterer. Flattery ensues. Time limit.

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If I had a hammer...

I got this idea from Adiwena (like many Indonesians, he has no last name), a student who responded to the Spiral Model I presented with his own Web of Learning, a model of learning in which the learner is at the center, engaging with a variety of teachers and classes, each of which offers something potentially valuable. The learner has to find the best way to learn in each context, making the most of resources available, and weaving the various courses into the web or pattern of learning s/he needs or desires.

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Bullshit! or The Fourth Grace.

Like the card game of the same name (AKA "I doubt it."), which plays on the joy of lying and the fear of discovery. Mark Twain described lying as "a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need, the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man's best and surest friend." It is also a fundamental language skill that should not be neglected.

The flow:

  • Give every player 5-15 blank index cards.
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If this meeting were a cup of coffee... radar charts for evaluation

I have given up using the evaluation technique in which you ask people, "If this meeting were a pair of shoes, what kind of shoes would they be? Roman Sandals? Pumps? Flippers?" Or, "If this workshop was a cup of coffee what kind of coffee would it be? Espresso? Turkish coffee? Soy or whole milk?" (I like that kind of thing, but I have found that not everyone does!)

But, we can borrow a tool used to evaluate coffee and other things to evaluate our work: the radar chart. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_chart)

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