Rebecca Smith, BEA President and VWC USSF delegate

This was easily the highlight of my first day. First off, I have never seen a room occupancy fire code violated so badly – there were so many people in the room we were literally knee to knee on the floor with no more than a few square inches of carpet to be seen!

The facilitators used the popular education model to engage us all as active participants. This was really cool to turn to the people whose knees were touching mine and hear their reasons they chose to teach for social justice. The goals of this workshop were to “examine and reframe assumptions found in traditional scholarship and teaching, to discuss popular education as a pedagogical strategy for creating a climate of social justice, and to explore action steps in classroom and curriculum transformation.”

I learned a new, scary term: Professional Industrial Complex. The facilitators are all university professors, and consider themselves “scholar activists”. They specify these two aspects of their jobs because one cannot exist without the other. In order to teach independently of the corporate, industrial model of education, they need to act as scholar activists, encouraging their students to unlearn misconceptions and rethink what it means to be educated.

Why does popular education work? Here’s what the group shared:

* Popular education is directly connected to community organizing – it’s learning in action.
* is egalitarian, human, and fosters cooperative relationship building through the sharing of personal experiences
* allows us to temporarily live the microcosmic society we envision
* requires support, time, resources, integration of teachers and community
* integrates culture, theater, arts, music
* brings grassroots action to institutions
* teaches us to unlearn misconceptions

I’m now a proud member, and looking forward to participating in the planning sessions for the next World Education Forum.