Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I woke up Monday with a misconception. My Food Bank schedule said “Popular Education Workshop” 8-4PM. The task ahead loomed dark and low.
Workshop: sitting inside, listening eight hours, doodling…
Like I said, misconception.
Now, I can affirm ‘Popular Education’ is what I hope to center my life around. I appreciate the power in community sharing, teaching, and learning. Having group discussions, understanding and letting go of personal judgments, active listening, and breaking down power dynamics in the classroom are all the reasons I love to facilitate classes. I just never knew there was a movement, a theory, a concept behind this method of education.
“Consciousness raising, peer to peer, reclaiming power to define our own world…”
“Being agents of our own reality, deciding our values, and breaking down the oppressive relationships”
“To understand logically is to understand deeply within”
The beautiful definitions of Popular Education. Each participant is valued equally, knowledge is shared, there is trust within the group.
We broke up into groups, moved around the room, interacted with small groups, pairs, and the group as a whole. We were not separated by age or rank, not by gender or those who we work closely with. Our voices had equal weight.
Defining the basic concepts of Popular Education was my favorite exercise. My small group received “Community Members as Experts.” I love this foundational aspect of Popular Education. In order to teach the rest of the participants we defined the phrase for ourselves, brainstormed opportunities to put it into practice, and thought of any critical questions we may have. The main task was presenting our findings in a creative way. We chose haiku. I wrote about what it means to me:
Bringing unique perspectives
There are no experts.
The strength of many voices
Knowledge in failure
The workshop felt empowering, inspiring. The concepts that I looked for in my education studies are out there, waiting to be implemented.
The problem has not been solved, however. We need time to reflect on all that we have learned, and in that evaluation we may be able to find ways to reach out to the community. Many members may struggle to understand that they are not just a student, they can be a teacher.
How do we….
use intuition and creativity?
perform action and evaluate fully?
and show each others’ value and expertise?
These are questions I could use in a classroom setting, with my coworkers during planning and brainstorming, and with my immediate community in the house. The amazing part of Popular Education is the flexibility. The forms can shift and change depending on the subjects.
“Popular Education is about bringing humanity back into learning.”