Education and Social Change
The practicum will be in one of the learning circles at Neighborhood House, on Monday or Wednesday, 6-9 PM, or Tuesday, 7-9 PM.
An email “listserv” will be established for this class.
Liberal Education Theme Requirements. This course counts toward two liberal education theme requirements: Cultural Diversity and Citizenship and Public Ethics.
Course goals and means
This course falls in the area of philosophy of education, but it also draws heavily on ideas from political philosophy, the philosophy of language and the theory of knowledge. It focuses on a family of approaches to education which has shown promise in moving societies in several parts of the world toward greater justice.
This family of approaches is known by various names, including “popular education,” “democratic education,” and “participatory education.” In the course we will use the name “democratic education.”
The purpose of the course is to provide students a theory-rich apprenticeship in democratic education, an apprenticeship which weaves together first-hand field participation at a democratic education site with the study of theories about and case studies of democratic education. I hope that students will emerge from the course with a good basic capacity to function as democratic educators, to design and facilitate democratic education settings, and to do this in a way that is informed by theory and by appreciation of contexts in which this approach to education has been used in other times and in other parts of the world.
Some of the guiding questions of the course are: What is democratic education? In what ways, and in what circumstances, can it contribute to constructive social change?
Exploring these questions leads, in turn, to classical philosophical questions: How should we live? What is a good life? What is a good society?
Students will be challenged to keep these large questions constantly in mind as they investigate the purposes that democratic education has in theory and the effects which it has in practice–the effects they will see at first hand in their practicum work and also in the case studies which they will read together.
The heart of a student’s experience in the course is the practicurn. Every student in the course will be doing a practicurn for at least four hours per week at a particular site, the Jane Addams School for Democracy in St. Paul’s West Side neighborhood. The Jane Addams School for Democracy is an initiative in democratic education and community development created by residents of St.Paul’s West Side neighborhood, staff of Neighborhood House, and students and faculty from the College of St. Catherine and the University of Minnesota. The School does not have a set curriculum, but creates learning exchange circles in response to interests and challenges identified by residents of the West Side community. The circles bring neighborhood residents together with college students and faculty. Though it is one site, it is a site where a number of related activities are going on, including (1) language learning exchange circles for adults which integrate language learning, preparation for the U. S.
Citizenship Test, sharing of cultures, and practice for in democratic deliberation and decision-making linking Hmong, Cambodian, Spanish, and English and (2) the Children’s Learning Circle. Students in the course will choose their practicurn work from these learning circles. There is an appendix to the syllabus which gives background about learning circles.
Reading for the course
The reading that students do for this course may be of two kinds. In the first place there will be common readings, which all students in the course do and which will form a common ground of reference for our discussions in the class. This is required.
The other kind of reading that students will do in connection with the course is individual readings. There may be something you have read before that you would like to re-read and reflect on in connection with this course. Or there may be something that you have not yet read, but that you know that you want to read and you think would reward reading in connection with the course. This is optional.
Kathryn Church, Forbidden Narratives: Critical Autobiography as Social Science (Amsterdam, Gordon and Breach, 1995). Paperback.
Septima Poinsette Clark, Ready from Within: Septima Clark and the Civil Rights Movement (Trenton, Africa World Press, 1986). Paperback.
Danling Fu , “My Trouble Is My English:” Asian Students and the American Dream (Portsmouth, NH, Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1995). Paperback.
Myles Horton and Paulo Freire. We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change (Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1990). Paperback.
Marlene Morrison Pedigo, New Church in the City: The Work of the Chicago Fellowship of Friends (Richmond, Indiana, Friends United Press, 1988). Paperback.
Letters to the Norwegian Nobel Committee from Pete Seeger, Maxine Greene and Septima Clark nominating the Highlander Center for the Nobel Peace Prize, 1983.
Setsuko Tsuji Fujimoto, “Bernice Robinson’s Story.” This is Part Two of Fujimoto’s Masters Thesis, Antioch University, 1994.
Carl Tjerandsen, Chapter 4: “Learning to Secure and Use Civic Rights: Through Changing the Individual,” Education for Citizenship: A Foundation’s Experience (Santa Cruz, California, Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation, Inc., 1980).
Possible individual readings
I am placing in an appendix to the syllabus a list of readings on popular and democratic education that some students might like to pursue on their own.
Required Work for the Course
Participation in meetings
On-time attendance of every student at virtually every class session is essential. This is because the learning circle approach being used in the course makes discussion that occurs in class a basic resource both for learning and for understanding subsequent discussions. If you find that you cannot come to class on time or that you have to miss more than two class sessions, we will want to have a talk.
An approach to learning that has evolved and proved to be very powerful at the Jane Addams School is learning in pairs. I want to explore adapting and developing this approach in the course. Early in the course we will create student pairs which will remain together and work together throughout the course. Some responsibilities the pairs will have or may have are:
Each pair will lead the class discussion of the readings for the week one time.
A pair may decide to meet sometimes, perhaps regularly, outside of class time to discuss their experiences at the Jane Addams Schools and their ideas about the readings and class discussions.
A pair may decide to do journal writing in a cooperative way, say in the form of a dialogue.
A pair may find a way of exploring and developing further the passions and interests that brought them to this course in the first place.
A. Four reflection papers, two to four double-spaced pages in length,will be handed in, one roughly every two weeks during the quarter.These papers will have something of the character of a journal and willbe a chance to reflect on experiences at the Jane Addams School, on thereadings, and on the class discussions. These journals can be a placefor the student and I to have a dialogue about the passions and intereststhat brought the student to the course.
B. A term paper which draws together all the learning you have donein the course.
C. Learning pair write-up of their work for the course; this will includean account of the pair’s experience in leading the class discussion, aswell as other elements depending on how the pair has chosen to worktogether.
Weekly participation of all students at the Jane Addams School and in the class is an assumed baseline for successful completion of the course. If for some reason a student has to miss a quarter or more of either of these components, he or she will not be able to receive a passing grade in the course and, as soon as the lack of participation becomes evident, will be counseled to withdraw from the course. The components of students’ work will have the following weights:
Participation in the class and in the Jane Addams School 250 points
Reflection papers 250 points
Pair report 250 points
Term paper 250 points
The basic guideline will be that a total number of points in the range 950-1,000 will be an A; 900-950 will be an A-; 867-900 will be a B+; 833-867 will be a B; 800-833 will be a B-; 767-800 will be a C+; 733-767 will be a C; 700-733 will be a C-; 667-700 will be a D+; 600-667 will be a D; and below 600 will be an F. On the S/N system, 700 or more points will be an S.
Schedule of readings and papers
Wednesday, March 31 Warm-up: introductions; background on the Jane Addams School; and discussion of “what is a good society?”
Wednesday, April 7 Continuation of good society discussion; read Horton and Freire for their personal stories and their visions of a good society.
Wedmesday April 14 Horton and Freire, for their ideas about education and social change, and for their perspectives on the citizenship schools. First reflection paper due.
Wednesday, April 21 Septima Clark, Ready from Within; letters to the Norwegian Nobel Committee from Pete Seeger, Maxine Greene and Septima Clark; Setsuko Tsuji Fujimoto, “Bernice Robinson’s Story.”
Wednesday, April 28 Carl Tjerandsen, Chapter 4: “Learning to Secure and Use Civic Rights: Through Changing the Individual.” Second reflection paper due.
Wednesday, May5 Danling Fu , “My Trouble Is My English:” Asian Students and the American Dream
Wednesday, May 12 Marlene Morrison Pedigo, New Church in the City: The Work of the Chicago Fellowship of Friends. Third reflection paper due.
Wednesday, May 19 Kathryn Church, Forbidden Narratives: Critical Autobiography as Social Science (Amsterdam, Gordon and Breach, 1995).
Wednesday, May 26 To be determined. Fourth reflection paper due.
June 2 Wrap-up. Term papers and pair reports are due during finals week.
Resource pool for individual readings. These are some readings that we may useful to individual students as they pursue their work in the course. This list makes no pretense of being complete. Readings will need to be found in response to specific needs and interests which students develop.
Rodolfo, Acuha, Occupied America (New York, Harper and Row, 1980).
Jane Addams, On Education (New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers, 1994).
Deborah Barndt. To change this house: popular education under the Sandinistas (Toronto, Between the Lines, 1991).
Kathryn Church, Forbidden Narratives: Critical Autobiography as Social Science (Australia and United States, Gordon and Breach, 1995).
Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos, 1942-1992 (Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1993).
Joseph K. Hart. Light from the North: The Danish Folk High Schools–Their Meanings for America (New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1927). Background on the Danish folk high schools by an American scholar who was a colleague of Jane Addams and part of the American progressive movement.
Mary Ann Hinsdale, Helen M. Lewis and S. Maxine Waller, It Comes from the People: Community Development and Local Theology (Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1995).
Anne Hope and Sally Timmel. Training for Transformation: A Handbook for Community Workers, Three Volumes, Revised Edition (Gweru, Zimbabwe, Mambo Press, 1995).
Myles Horton, with Judith Kohl and Herbert Kohl, The Long Haul (New York, Teachers College Press, 1997).
Keith Quincy. Hmong: History of a People (Eastern Washington Press, 1988).
Nelly P. Stromquist, ed. Women and Education in Latin America: Knowledge, Power, and Change (Boulder and London, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1992).
Nelly P. Stromquist, Literacy for Citizenship: Gender and Grassroots Dynamics in Brazil (Albany, State University of New York Press, 1997). An illuminating case study of popular education programs in Sao Paulo under a progressive government in the late 1980’s, informed by a command of popular education historically and around the world. The first chapter, “Development, Literacy, and Women,” gives an excellent overview.
Nina Wallerstein, Language and Culture in Conflict: Problem-posing in the FSL Classroom (Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1983).
Roger Warner. Shooting at the Moon: The Story of America’s Clandestine War in Laos (South Royalton, Vermont, Steerforth Press, 1996).
David Werner and Bill Bower, Helping Health Workers Learn: A Book of Methods, Aids, and Ideas for Instructors at the Village Level (Palo Alto, The Hesperian Foundation, 1982).
Eliot Wigginton, ed. Refuse to Stand Silently By: An Oral History of Grass Roots Social Activism in America, 1921-1964 (New York, Doubleday, 1992). Selected chapters from this book containing interviews with Rosa Parks, Bernice Robinson, and Septima Clark.
These are videos relevant to democratic education, which may be used by individual students and excerpts from some of which may be used for common viewing by the whole class.
Myles Horton, with Bill Moyers. “The Adventures of a Radical Hillbilly.” Bill Moyers’Journal. Originally broadcast on WNET, New York, June 5, 1981.
Lucy Massie Phenix. “You Got to Move: Stories of Change in the South.” New York: Icarus Films, 1985. A documentary film about the Highlander Folk School produced and directed by Lucy Massie Phenix. Phenix also made the documentary film “Rosie the Riveter” about women in the workforce in World War 11.
“Paulo Freire and Myles Horton at Highlander.” A depiction of a Highlander workshop plus an extended conversation between Freire and Horton (with Freire doing most of the talking) at the time in the late 1980’s when they “talked” their book We Make the Road by Walking.
“From the Mountains to the Maquiladora.” About a current Highlander project which forms solidarity among Appalachian women who have lost their jobs because of factories moving to Mexico and the Mexican who are working in the new factories.
“The House that Jane Built.” About Hull House.
“The Women of Summer.” About the Bryn Mawr Summer School for working women in the 1920’s.
“The Women of Hull House.” About Hull House and the careers of the remarkable women who started it.
“Voices of Experience: Five Tales of Community Economic Development in Toronto.” This video depicts economic development projects which involve psychiatric consumers/survivors in the movement that Kathryn Church writes about.
Nelda Pearson and John Wallace
December 8, 1998
Learning circles assume that all members of a group are both learners and teachers, that all bring valuable knowledge and perspectives to the learning setting, and that learning is collaborative, transformative, and implies social action. The circle unfolds from initial questions framed by the facilitators based on the topic of concern to the circle. The questions usually address this main concern by exploring where participants are now, what participants are seeking, and what they would consider to be the ideal situation with regard to the concern and its resolution. This exploration is a process of hearing from every member of the group, scribing their responses, and noting threads of commonality and diversity. The initial questioning process generates the subsequent questions, concerns and issues that the group addresses. As the group goes through layers of questions, discussion spirals through the ideal vision or situation to the reality, to the barriers and resources to get from the reality to the ideal, and finally to the course of action this discussion implies.
The best size for a learning circle is 15 to 20 people. As the name implies, the physical shape of the conversation is everyone sitting in a circle. This arrangement not only symbolizes the participants’ basic equality as learners and teachers but also helps make it physically real. In the circle, everyone can see everyone else when they are speaking or listening. Everyone is down on the playing field participating in the process of inquiring and learning; no one is a spectator observing from the stands. Sometimes the big circle will break out into small groups of three or four people, for discussions in which each participant can have more air time than in the big circle. After these “break out” discussions, everyone comes back into the big circle so that each small group can share with everyone the ideas or insights or questions from its discussion. In this way, the whole class in the big circle remains the “home space” and the basic community of learners.
Learning circles as a tool for learning and social action grow out of a great tradition of people’s education, democratic education, and community development. Some of the well-known leaders in this tradition are Myles Horton, Septima Clark, and Paulo Freire. The basic practices of relating as whole persons in respectful conversation about matters of deep concern, however, are rooted in the wisdom and caring of countless community leaders whose names we do not know.
Professor: John Wallace
Videos & Presentations
Designing & Delivering a Service-Lea
Connect2Complete Resource Guide
SEMINAR: Dialogue, Discourse, Identity a
More Syllabi Archive
SEMINAR: Dialogue, Discourse, Identity a
Educational Policy – Community Par
Educational Policy – Community Pro