query: graduate degree in organizing
colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Tue Jul 6 07:38:13 CDT 2004
[ed: Spencer continues the discussion]
From: spencer <ohiotenants at earthlink.net>
A ringing endorsement to Larry Halliday's sentiments, so clearly and
honestly expressed! The only things I would add are:
1. at its best, formal education gives an organizer some tools with
which she/he can reflect upon (analyze/synthesize) the real education
that she/he receives from the community.
2. the education provided the community is the gift that the community
brings to the organizer in exchange for the organizer's interest in
their lives and her/his diligence in helping them pursue their goals.
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> From: LJHalliday at webtv.net (Larry Halliday)
> Didn't want to respond to this but thought it may be helpful. I
> received a graduate degree in social work in the mid-70's. I
> became involved in organizing and had to deal with the tensions
> of education. For me this came more from "professionals" than
> from the people themselves. (conflict vs. cooperation)
> Nevertheless, coming from parents with a 9th grade and high
> school education, the "de-emphasizing" of education at times was
> difficult for me.
> However, early on, I agreed with those who saw those with
> "professional" degrees as not always understanding what
> organizing was about - power. Yet, let's not kid ourselves. An
> education is an advantage if used effectively. There are less
> self educated people out there today than there used to be. Some
> of the old time and deceased organizers would probably look at us
> a bit incredulous if we didn't take advantage of educational
> As for people with social work education backgrounds in
> organizing, there aren't too many. Off hand, I can think of two
> well-known people involved in organizing that had social work
> educations. I'm sure there are others. How many organizers have
> medical degrees or physics degrees for that matter? Most probably
> have social science credentials somewhere thrown in there.
> The point being that organizing really is not a degree thing.
> Peel away the onion layers and underneath we find the word -
> politics. Organizing was done a long time ago by people who never
> had what we consider an education by today's standard. Yet, no
> doubt due to some of the efforts of those same people, our
> education/knowledge backgrounds are more advanced.
> For those looking to do organizing for a living, you will find
> yourself doing a lot of one on one conversations with people. In
> addition, you will facilitate groups of people wanting to change
> their communities, help people do basic research to gather ammo
> for their fights and lots of phone and leg work to get people to
> attend meetings. The word "advocacy" doesn't exist in organizing.
> If meeting with six or seven folks from the neighborhood in a
> living room or kitchen on a regular basis doesn't seem to excite
> you then maybe you should look elsewhere. Some of the best
> moments I've had in organizing were at the street level. Best of
> luck in your endeavors.
> Larry Halliday
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