intro - explain pbl format
In an English as a Second Language class for immigrant workers, Ramona is sitting in the back of the classroom, talking excitedly in Spanish with the person next to her. Standing at the front of the class, Matt is frustrated and curious.
- What's the problem? (this is not as simple as it may seem, to begin with it depends on whose standpoint you look at it from, for Ramona, the problem may be that there is no good chance to talk with the person next to her...)
- What do we know? (stick to the basic description, what do we really know as opposed to what do we assume or imagine]
- What do we want to know? [brainstorm questions]
- What do we imagine? What can we guess, based on what we know? [encourage people to consider as many possibilities as possible, this is a valuable strategic skill]
- Have you ever been in this situation, either in the position of Ramona, the person next to her, or Matt? [how we understand a problem is related to our own experience, and some participants may be able to bring useful experience]
The English as a Second Language class is run by the Consortium for Worker Education, a non-profit labor education program that provides training for over thirty unions in New York City. Ramona and most of the other students are members of a local of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU).
Like Ramona, most are middle-aged women from the Dominican Republic or other parts of Latin America. Ramona speaks little English but has lived in the US for many years.
Matt is in his late twenties. He is a full time teacher employed by the Consortium for Worker Education and co-chapter leader of his Teachers Union chapter. He is a radical activist and supports union reform and democracy efforts. He is very interested in popular education and speaks Spanish. He has been trying to find themes of interest to the people in the class, especially themes that might lead to collective action for social change.
- What do we know now?
- What's the problem? How has our understanding of the problem changed now that we have new information?
- What do we want to know now? What information is missing?
- Which of our assumptions and guesses were right? Which need to be changed? What new guesses can we make?
- Have you ever been in this situation? Can you relate to any of the people in the story?
- What should the different players in this class do?