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.
- Rhythm shiritori
- Don't get left behind (ひとりにならない）
- Word Association
- Let's do it!
- Yes, and yay
- Yes, and... interview
- Master and Slaves
- One Voice
- One Word
- Freeze Tag
- Emotional Replay
- Genre Replay
- Words from the heart
- Space Jump
- Feeling Shift (mime of day's event)
- Experience Rendering (sound, motion, statue)
- Mime -- what's my job?
- Mime -- who am I? (variation, try to join in, rebuff if wrong)
Hegel criticized "picture thinking" (vorstellung) as opposed to conceptual thinking, for some good reasons, but learning finds a good foothold in the creation, description, and analysis of pictures. I think this is because we find in drawings elements produced unconsciously, accidentally. And the drawings we create become objects in common -- something we can look at and to which we can refer in our conversation.
This simple activity can be the opening of a long investigation.
Dedocracia is a pun I learned from activists from the Dominican Republic with whom I used to work. When someone designates the person who has to carry out a particular assignment -- by pointing at him/her rather than voting or reaching consensus -- it's a case of "dedocracia" (the rule of the finger).
But I have since learned about another form of dedocracia: five finger consensus, or "fist-to-five consensus-building." You can read about it here: http://freechild.org/Firestarter/Fist2Five.htm
It's an obvious idea, but seeing video of people using the People's Microphone, I decided to teach the technique in my English for Activists course and use it for language practice.
- Introduce this as a technique used at Occupy Wall Street as a solution to a very simple problem: no sound permit. (Could lead to an interesting discussion about laws regarding speech and assembly in different countries.)
This is not so much an activity or technique as a policy. But, it has implications for facilitation and for participants' actions.
At the outset of a course or workshop, as part of my self-introduction, I explain that there is one general rule that is very important to me, that is that everyone should feel free. (This is constantly evolving as I learn more about what feeling free can mean.)
People should feel free to be comfortable:
- to stand up if they need to stand up,
- to leave the room if they need to leave the room,
This is a fun way to get people talking with each other and to help them loosen up. Good for a group where people already know each other and may find it hard to strike up a conversation that isn't stale. Going deeper: this activity frees us from the usual sense of obligation/desire to tell the truth, which may conflict with our feelings of shame or just a sense of privacy. Taking the liberty to lie, to betray our principles, to espouse reprehensible beliefs, may free us from inhibition and help us find new truths.
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.
Good for: animation, personal reflection, starting discussion of goals and strategic vision.
Set-up: circle-game, sitting or standing, walking (like on picket line), followed by individual work and then, at the end, circle again
Number of people: enough for a "we"
Materials: none (could be interesting to have people create placards or picket signs at the end)