(adapted by Matt Noyes from Running a UPS-Style Contract Campaign, by the Teamster Rank & File Education and Legal Defense Fund)
By Matt Noyes
(English version of an article written in Winter 2005 for the Center for Transnational Labor Studies. Slight edits made in April 2009)
A previous version of this article appeared in two editions of the Labor Law Semi-monthly Bulletin “Rodo Horitsu Junpo” No. 1594, Tokyo, February, 2005.
Some articles related to worker education, internet speech, and union democracy.
by Matt Noyes (published in Japanese by Rodo Horitsu Junpo, Labor Law Semi-Monthly, translated by Ishikawa Kimihiko: マット・ノイズ（石川公彦訳）「労働者教育の問題点：ニューヨーク市立大学に拠点をおく複数の労働者教育センターにおける教育実践から」(pdf)〔『労働法律旬報』1694号（2009年４月25日発行）掲載)
I have always liked the "seed poem" device that this introductory activity uses. I learned it from Emily Schnee in a course we co-taught at the old ILGWU Worker-Family Education Program. We did it as a writing activity. I don't know where she got it. This activity answers several needs at once: it is a good speaking, listening, writing activity; it is creative and uses the whole body; it combines pair and whole group work; it works across levels; it is a good way to begin identifying generative themes.
Over time, the standard chants and slogans used on picket lines and in demonstrations, protests, and marches, become stale and cliche. The content gets lost and the music becomes sing-song. The chants have no impact. The whole experience becomes disempowering. (This has been true for so long that even complaining about it is stale and cliche!)
[img_assist|nid=136|title=The Spiral Model|desc=The Spiral Model as it appears in Educating for a Change.|link=none|align=left|width=450|height=341]
The spiral model illustrates several important principles of popular education:
- that it begins with the experiences and interests of the participants,
- that the content of the educational process flows from their experience,
- that new information is needed,
- that through a collective process of dialogue participants explore their experiences and identify problems they wish to address,
Not a new idea, but a particular use of it that has worked very well. The activity revolves around a close reading of a poem by Langston Hughes, using an eraser…
In this activity participants memorize/study the following short poem by Langston Hughes.
The night is beautiful.
So the faces of my people.
The stars are beautiful.
So the eyes of my people.
Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.
- write the poem on a blackboard
- ask everyone to read it silently
Here's the problem. Evaluating a course at the end, and/or at various points during the course, is essential to good teaching/learning practice. But, the tools I have used have sometimes felt dull and plodding, like busy work, especially when I try to get people to make the evaluation more specific and concrete.
The problem is worse when the participants are friendly and compliant. Then it really feels pro-forma.