I can’t sleep, but there are dreams,… Myles Horton quote.

I shared this at our recent seminar on Community Conversations as we struggled with how to move forward to promote this kind of dialoque.

Quote from Myles Horton:

I can’t sleep, but there are dreams. What you must do is go back, get a simple place, move in and you are there. The situation is there. You start with this and you let it grow. You know your goal. It will build its own structure and take its own form. You can go to school all your life, you’ll never figure it out because you are trying to get an answer that can only come from the people in the life situation.

From We Make the Road by Walking, Conversations on Education and Social Change: Myles Horton and Paulo Freire, ed. By Brenda Bell, John Gaventa and John Peters, PA: Temple Univ. Press, 1990.

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Learning for a Change Think Tank

At our first few meetings at WISR in 2014, the three of us present talked about what to call ourselves and decided to use the term think tank as we want to invite others from the community to be a part if they wish and we want to meet monthly. Our goal is to learn about educational models that bring about a fair and healthy society. Part of Nasira’s relevant background is with Quaker Schools and Marilyn’s with the folk school movement. Marilyn is working with the reviving board of the Folk Education Association of America and Kaylia has been a music educator for many years.

Nasira is interested in what alternative models exist that are better than the conventional models.  Her Quaker school experience in junior high and high school was holistc with a feeling of community and family.  She felt it was similar to the folk school model as students shared chores and outside of class, students interacted with teachers and staff in informal, positive and friendly ways.

Kaylia brought up intentional communities and we talked about co-ops (including senior ones), communes as well as Mondragone community in the Basque region of Spain.  She is also passionate about the importance of music in the schools.

We also talked about the mediation and conflict resolution movement as teaching ways to build a more harmonious world.   Marilyn brought up the Movement for a New Society and their “monstor” manual or Guide.

Here’s a recent post Marilyn made on the Folk School/People’s Education FB group page on this subject on August 8, 2014:

I was meeting with others in the Folk School Association (FSA) and Folk Education Association of American (FEAA) networks today and found myself talking about this Movement for a New Society (MNS) that influenced many shared cooperative homes and also the nonviolence movement in the US. It reminds me of the folk school movement as people lived together for a long period of time and interact in learning together to make social change. Though they don’t see themselves as a folk school movement they are influenced by the Quakers and perhaps there is a link if we look, to the folk school movement. Do any of you know about MNS? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_for_a_New_Society

Nasira brought up the Latin word educare, which means to draw out, as in to resonate with ones own sensibilities.  We talked about other terms used including building knowledge vs. growing knowledge.  Questions we asked were what is productive education? and how to tap into what motivates this? Also, Nasira pointed out that there was a Harvard study that proved that conventional education, i.e., reading and lectures is the least effective form of ed as compared to internships, apprenticeships and hands on forms of learning.

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Earth Day at WISR!

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Earth Day: Sharing Concerns and Exploring Solutions Endorsed by WISR’s Educating for a Change Think Tank   Friday, April 25th, 5:30 – 8:30pm   Marilyn Jackson, PhD, WISR Faculty, Facilitator. Click here for a pdf flyer Join us to share … Continue reading

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Minutes from our Education and Social Change Think Tank Meeting, March 3, 2012

Present: Art Warmoth, Michael McAvoy and Marilyn Jackson

Marilyn suggested we call ourselves Education and Social Change Think Tank. Art and Michael discussed various related phrases, Education is Social Change, Activism is Scholarship, and vice versa. We discussed the relationship between education, social change, and degrees in WISR’s core mission.  Marilyn suggested we keep the title simple but develop some writing on this topic for a possible brochure or newsletter and definitely for blogging at wisrville.  We agreed that the Educating for a Change blog would be the best place, and Marilyn said she would add Art and Michael as authors to that blog.

We discussed several areas where WISR could offer programs that could promote social change and help the 99% movement.

  • Community-based coaching/mentoring, events, and seminars/classes combining face-to-face and online pedagogy. We discussed different venues such as the oldNewCollegebuilding or places inBerkeley.
  • Integrating all levels of community-based education from pre-school through graduate school.
  • Content offerings using expertise of faculty beyond action research and MFT, including pedagogy, alternative economics, and health care.
  • Development of funded project by WISR faculty that would employ students and thus help offset their tuition costs.
  • Mentoring and coaching for students in other postsecondary programs who do not get enough of it from the faculty in the program in which they are matriculated.
  • Periodic faculty-mentored portfolio evaluation requiring active synthesis and self-assessment by learners (this satisfies bureaucratic assessment requirements and offers students the opportunity to create a useful persona in today’s information rich virtual environment).
  • Separate the costs of offering learning facilitation, the cost of maintaining state approval to offer degrees, and basic fixed overhead (e.g. rent, maintaining nonprofit status) so that various educational activities can be priced in relation to actual operating costs.

Both Art and Michael talked about the importance of portfolios as a way for self-assessment and to qualify oneself for a job.  Michael has written materials on what they were using atNewCollegebefore it folded.  It was suggested that each semester students tie together their learning and do a self-assessment.  Marilyn said she had just been thinking that it would be good to meet with students once a year to show them their WISR portfolio and to get their help in keeping it updated.  This will look good to the state if the portfolios are in good shape as well.  Both Art and Michael have samples of portfolios to share.

Michael talked about a student mentoring program inPalo Altoand how WISR could help with that. He mentioned Theodore Roszak who wrote the Making of a Counter Culture Elder.  Art said that the learning done in the 60’s through 80’s could be helpful for what we’re going through now; there is so much that people from those movements could offer younger people today.

Michael mentioned Learning Alliance of New York as a good model for continuing education, though it is no longer functioning.

John’s comment on using scripted improvisation was discussed as a good concept to think about in terms of how to combine the best of both worlds to have a functioning organization.

Art mentioned some events on economic alternatives that are taking place in SonomaCounty:

-On Sunday, April 1, Praxis Peace Institute, in collaboration with MondragonUniversityand DominicanUniversity, will present two events on Models for a New Economy:  Worker Ownership & Entrepreneurship.  The Mondragon Corporation in Northern Spainis the largest and most successful network of worker-owned cooperatives in the world.  There will be a workshop by the MondragonTeamAcademyfrom 10- 4, and a program of presentations by Mondragon and Bay Area Coop representatives on worker owned businesses from 7-9.  More information is available at http://www.praxispeace.org.

-Community Action Partnership, The Leadership Institute, the GoLocal Cooperative, the Sonoma State TimeExchange Club, and the local branch of the Public Banking Institute are planning a symposium on “Engineering the Turnaround: Community Approaches to Job Creation” for April 7.  Strategies to be explored include Time Banking, Local Currency, Public Banking, Micro-Banking, Worker Owned Co-ops, and Foreclosure Moratorium.

-Art is planning a course on “Economic Democracy: The Next Revolution,” starting sometime in July.  There will be 5 Saturday face-to-face meetings with two weeks of online dialogue in between.  The course also will be available online. It will cover structural alternatives to the conventional monetary and banking system currently in use as strategies to promote sustainability and economic recovery. It will also consider topics that still need to be addressed from a whole systems perspective, including pension and tax reform.  The course will be co-sponsored by the WISR.  Marilyn suggested we have an introduction at WISR on a Saturday and we discussed doing it in June, on a Saturday after the 15th.

We discussed offering to show You Got To Move on the Saturday after the conference in the evening at WISR on the big screen which should be available by then.


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I’m thinking it would be good for me and/or others to do a powerpoint presentation about Grundtvig, or Horton and Freire perhaps.  Let me know if you would like to collaborate on learning to do a Powerpoint project presentation.

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What does Alternative Education mean and what are some examples that interest you?

Since writing first entry below, I started another blog on the relationship between social democracy, the folk school movement and happiness or well being. http://folkschool.wisrville.org/
I would still like to be part of a discussion on alternative education. This sounds as to the point as the well used term, “social change,” without the context of what you are changing from; alternative to what? “Alternative education” has been used to mean an alternative to what is normally accepted as the way to become educated. This is a broader concept than just higher education, which means beyond primary and secondary and includes informal, or nonformal and community based learning. Wikipedia’s first paragraph is useful:

Alternative education, also known as non-traditional education or educational alternative, includes a number of approaches to teaching and learning other than mainstream or traditional education. Educational alternatives are often rooted in various philosophies that are fundamentally different from those of mainstream or traditional education. While some have strong political, scholarly, or philosophical orientations, others are more informal associations of teachers and students dissatisfied with some aspect of mainstream or traditional education. Educational alternatives, which include charter schools, alternative schools, independent schools, and home-based learning vary widely, but often emphasize the value of small class size, close relationships between students and teachers, and a sense of community.

I’m interested in discussing what thrives and what directions educational organizations are going in. Certainly the mainstream has an important purpose however it is supplemented by other options which can challenge its premises.

What schools do you know about or appreciate that are alternative? What are their strengths and weaknesses? I will share some that intrigue me and if you know about them or others, please share that as well. I look forward to hearing your comments.

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Higher Education, popular education, folk schools, community education, which is it?

What shall we call this blog?  The meaning of “higher education” doesn’t come naturally to most of us.  We know about high school.  In Denmark they had the “folk high school,” folk meaning “the people.”  Folk high shools are not like high schools as they are not required and they don’t give requirements, grades or degrees.  So popular, folk or peoples education, or education to build community, or learning for life, all are in the same category.  N.F.S. Grundtvig started the folk high school movement in Denmark and lived from 1783 to 1872.

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