I've been working with a woman, native Japanese speaker, whose English is very good. She uses me as a "native informant" -- a resource for developing her awareness of English. (She is a Gattegno teacher/student.)
Learned a great opening activity in the Labor Education study group I participate in at Meiji University's Labor Media and Education Center. Needs a good title -- "Still Life with Union Movement"?
The activity is similar to Statues (where participants use other participants to create a statue representing an idea or situation).
Facilitator piles up three or four chairs in the middle of the room, some on top of others, in a jumble.
She asks participants to think of this pile of chairs as "The Union Movement."
Small grass roots movements, unpopular at their inception, play a vital role in society. They provide a critical opposition to established ideas; their presence is a direct correlate of the right to free speech; a basic part of the self-regulation of a successful society, which will generate counter movements whenever things get off the track.
In a society which emphasizes teaching, children and students -- and adults -- become passive and unable to think or act for themselves. Creative, active individuals can only grow up in a society which emphasizes learning instead of teaching.
Interview with Augusto Boal on Democracy Now from 2007. Boal died recently, at the age of 78.
The interview is great -- he describes his evolution as an educator/actor as well as the evolution of movements in Brazil, including the MST, landless workers movement. I love the way he describes the moment when he realized that he needed an alternative to using theater to tell people what to do.
(adapted by Matt Noyes from Running a UPS-Style Contract Campaign, by the Teamster Rank & File Education and Legal Defense Fund)
The answer to most workplace and union democracy problems is the same: you have to organize with your coworkers. Easy to say, harder to do. With no staff, nobody on the union payroll, everyone working their regular jobs, how can you build and sustain an organization that is democratic and participatory? How can you spread the work around so it doesn't all fall on a few people? How can you keep track and hold people accountable? How can you avoid burnout and keep the group open to new people?