A Syllabu-zine

(Or Zine-abus)



ENVS 6150


Popular Education for Social Change




Be Passionately Aware that You Could be Completely Wrong






York University  - Faculty of Environmental Studies

Fall 2012 — Tuesdays  2:30 – 5:30


Subject to change with a wee bit of notice




Official Course Description

Conjunctural Course Description & Texts

Course Objectives, Requirements

Course at a Glance

Session Descriptions

Expectations and Evaluation

Assignment Schedule Summary

Thinking Ahead (to 6151)

Session Title Sources

Structured Criticisms





chris cavanagh







ENVS6150: Examination of individual and social learning from a critical perspective. Based on a theoretical & practical examination of knowledge production and power relations, several streams of critical education are explored: popular education, critical pedagogy, native education, labour education, feminist pedagogy, queer pedagogy, anti-racist education, global/development education, direct action and activist education. Applied work will focus on the role of these approaches within schools, organizations and movements for social change.





Popular education resists unjust uses of power or, in a word, oppression. As a process of learning/teaching it creates opportunity to practice resistance to oppression and, perhaps, a celebration of freedom. Responses to injustice are many including rebellion and resistance (both individual and collective), organizing for social change as well as resignation and acceptance, collusion and collaboration. The dominant (or hegemonic) common sense treats education and learning as “neutral” territory. However, there is nothing “neutral” about any form of education as Paulo Freire so famously demonstrated in his life’s work. By focusing on educating/learning for social change in this course we will rigorously explore the interlocking (as well as overlapping and intersecting) nature of the many forms of oppression perpetually active in our daily personal and public lives.

      The theme of this year’s class, Be Passionately Aware that You could Be Completely Wrong, is drawn from an expression used by dian marino, a visual artist and professor at The Faculty of Environmental Studies for many years. This phrase heralds an exploratory romp through popular education ideas, practices, history and contradictions. Some provisional theoretical (and practical) work-in-progress on a theory of Trickster Pedagogy will be shared during this course. This theory disorganizes and recombines various aspects of popular education praxis.

      Popular education has always recognized the importance of connecting the personal and the social, the individual and the group, and, as much as popular education is aimed at changing the world it is also about changing the self. A university classroom is a site of temporary coalition in which a number of individuals have converged in order to experience a shared pedagogy that can include training and skills acquisition, practicing and developing theoretical knowledge, self-reflection and planning for the future. Though people often refer to the “real world” as something that exists beyond the university classroom, this piece of common sense, while affirming something of the idealized nature of the classroom (and, therefore, the unique opportunities afforded therein), tends to disappear the very “real” world that exists as much in the university classroom as anywhere else. Popular education treats learners as full human beings who enter learning processes abundant with experience and expertise, history and relationships, loves and losses. Popular education recognizes that learners exist within living histories that have shaped them and which they, in turn, can shape. As such popular education is aimed equally at the changing of the world and the changing of the self. Nor is “self” in this context, intended to signify the individual as much as it points to the “individual in relation” or the “I/Thou” (theorized by Martin Buber), a notion which finds contemporary expression in the popular Nguni word ubuntu which has been translated as “I exist because you exist.” Closely related to this is the Zulu concept/expression “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu" which has been translated as “a person is a person through other persons”.

      We will collectively explore popular education and the many overlapping and intersecting discourses and practices from which it is made new all the time. Each class will use popular education to invite the sharing of experience, to engage theory, develop new skills and create new knowledge. This course is popular education praxis. The terrain we cover is vast and will include looking at a variety of pedagogical practices as indicated in the opening paragraph. Popular education praxis will be challenged and enriched by Aboriginal knowledges and educational practices as well as postcolonial theory and social movement practice. We are asking you to join us in this process of decolonizing our own thinking and acting, while drawing from a wide range of visions that could contribute to more diverse, dynamic, and relevant understandings and practices of popular education for social change.

      This course is also an opportunity to include in our praxis reflection on one’s own relationship to colonial histories and ways of knowing, learning, and acting. Together throughout the course we will construct a time/space path tracing critical moments of personal and social transformation, learning and collective action. We will use popular education and various forms of storytelling (images, music, theatre) in our explorations of theory and practice.


Course objectives include:

·    Participating, active listening and willingness to learn with and from peers, and contribute, throughout the course, questions and insights from our professional and personal experiences.

·    Challenging ourselves as learners/educators within the class and beyond.

·    Grounding ourselves in the key concepts of popular education theory (power, hegemony, dialogue, praxis).

·    Analyzing popular education within and through various frames and critically examining underlying assumptions of popular education for social change (e.g. regarding race, class, gender, sexual orientation, human/environment relationships, etc.).

·    Connecting our selves to popular education – exploring the “arts of the self” as popular education praxis.

·    Experimenting with different pedagogical practices (including exploring a variety of ways to share stories and freedom dreams)



This is a 3 credit course. Students are expected to participate in weekly sessions. To facilitate this process, there will be three weekly assignments:

·    Reading the required texts for each session and active discussion in class;

·    A critical self-writing and praxis assignment to reflect on the weekly readings.

·    Short hand-written “structured criticisms” completed in class (done at the end of most classes) or participation in other forms of in-class evaluation;

Other requirements include:

·    Written completion of a short account of why you are here, due the second week of class;

·    A co-facilitated process to engage the class in discussion of the readings assigned for one of the sessions. This can then form the basis of a co-written final paper on an area of popular education that engages some of the theories covered in this course as well as integrating your reflections from the critical self-writing and praxis assignments.


Prerequisites: There are none.


Relation to other courses:  ENVS 6150 Popular Education for Social Change (Part I:Theory/Practice)  is a prerequisite for: ENVS 6151 Popular Education for Social Change (Part II: Practice/Theory); ENVS 6140 Environmental Education.


PLEASE NOTE: Students who feel that there are extenuating circumstances which may interfere with the successful completion of the course requirements are strongly encouraged to discuss the matter with the Course Director as soon as possible. Students with physical, learning or psychiatric disabilities who require reasonable accommodation in teaching style or evaluation method should discuss this with the Course Director early in the term so that appropriate arrangements can be made.


READING: Students are asked to acquire:


Virtual Course Reader every effort has been made to locate freely available on-line versions of readings which are available by following the links found in this document – see the list of readings in each session description).


1. Freire, Paulo

2000      Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition. NY: Continuum.

2. Freire, Paulo

1994      Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed. NY: Continuum.

3. Atleo, E. Richard

2004       Tsawalk: a Nuu-chah-nulth Worldview. Vancouver: UBC Press.

4. marino, dian

      1995     Wild Garden: Art, Education and the Culture of Resistance. Toronto: Between the Lines.



Ledwith, Margaret and Jane Springett

      2010     Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press.


Course at a Glance


SEP 11

“While Love is Unfashionable”

How Does Change Happen?


SEP 18

Education as the PRAXIS of Freedom

Learning and the Arts of the Self


SEP 25

Reading the Word & Reading the World

Dialogue, Dialectics, Structure and Conjuncture



Working with Cracks in Consent: Not So Common Sense

Hegemony; power; resistance; imagination; subjectivity


Oct 9

Block Week


OCT 16

“In Much Wisdom is Much Grief…”

Seeing the matrix of oppression & resistance


OCT 23

Walking the Talk, Dancing the Dance

Negotiating the matrix of oppression/resistance


Oct 30

“…one CAN’T believe impossible things!”

Exploring Other Ways of Knowing



The Universe is Made of Stories, Not Atoms

Narrative and popular education


NOV 13

Man thinks and God Laughs

Popular education, play & performance


NOV 20

Not the Master’s Tools

What are the tools we need?


Nov 27

Be realistic, demand the impossible

Tactic & Strategy



“Be passionately aware that you could be completely wrong…”

Where do we go from here?


1. September 11:

“While Love is Unfashionable”*

How does change happen?


We each bring unique histories to this course as well as our hopes, fears, and longings. In this first meeting, we will introduce the course and our intent to examine popular education within multiple and always fluid frames including postcolonial and anti-racist frames as well as aboriginal, feminist and artistic frames, queer, labour and anthropological frames and more. More than mere spectators of these histories we can be, as Brazilian theatre director Augusto Boal says, spectACTORS in this history – both witness and player, not just shaped by but shapers of the social-political-cultural forces at play. Where and how do we each fit into this picture? Are we content with our fit? And, if not content, how do we change the picture? How do we think change happens? What is our theory of change? 




«Lorca, Federico Garcia

1998    Play and Theory of the Duende in In Search of Duende. NY: New Directions pp. 48-62.


In telling stories, we obey certain principles and laws of drama and melodrama, of crisis and resolution, of impact and silence. We generate an energy through our stories that helps to define who we are and where we are going. We are all creatures of narrative, and these narratives are important to us even if they are tragic narratives. It certainly has been my observation for many years that individuals would much rather have a tragic narrative than no narrative at all, and they will cling to suffering in order to discover the material for such a narrative. - David Spangler


Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity–we shall harness the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, [humanity] will have discovered fire. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


The starting point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is ‘knowing thyself’ as a product of the historical process to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory. - Antonio Gramsci



2. September 18:

Education as the PRAXIS of Freedom

Learning and the Arts of the Self?


A key tenet of popular education is that no education is neutral: it either supports the status quo or challenges it. Yet there are many ways of understanding education, and this course invites us into dialogue with a variety of authors and discourses representing diverse standpoints. In this session we will establish the ways in which we will engage texts in this course. The diversity of texts represents the diverse nature of popular education practice and theory as well as providing the opportunity to make critical and creative connections across and amongst the various discourses represented. Another way of framing this is praxis – the unity of theory and action to resist unjust uses of power (or, in a word, oppressin), create more capacity and space for freedom and to change for the better both the world and our interconnected selves.




«Lorca, Federico Garcia

1998    Play and Theory of the Duende in In Search of Duende. NY: New Directions pp. 48-62.

marino, dian

1997  Thoughts on Teaching and Learning in Wild Garden: art, education and the culture of resistance. Toronto: Between the Lines, pp. 43-56.

Freire, Paulo

2000     Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition. NY: Continuum. pp. 1-69.

«Reagon, Bernice Johnson

1983     Coalition Politics: Turning the Century in Homegirls: A Black Feminist Anthology. (Smith, Barbara, ed.). New York: KitchenTable-Women of Color Press pp. 356-368.




Ledwith, Margaret and Jane Springett

      2010     Chapter One: Participatory Practice in Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press. Pp. 13-34.

Ledwith, Margaret and Jane Springett

2010  Chapter Two: Troubled Times in Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change.            

          Bristol, UK: The Policy Press. Pp. 35-58.

«Eyre, Linda

1993    Compulsory Heterosexuality in a University Classroom in Canadian Journal of Education 18:3, pp. 273-284.


The oppressor does not want the mirror to reflect anything to the oppressed but its quicksilver surface. What process of change can activate a people that doesn't know who it is, nor from whence it comes? If it doesn't know who it is, how can it know what it deserves to become? - Eduardo Galeano


We have art in order not to perish of truth.  – Friedrich Nietzsche


Don’t think you are. Know you are. – Morpheus


Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try. – Yoda


…the poet is he who, beneath the named, constantly expected differences, rediscovers the buried kinship between things, the scattered resemblances. Beneath the established signs, and in spite of them, he hears another, deeper, discourse, which recalls the time when words glittered in the universal resemblance of things; in the language of the poet, the Sovereignty of the Same, so difficult to express, eclipses, the distinction existing between signs. – Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (NY: Vintage Books, 1970, p. 49).


3. September 26:

Reading the Word & Reading the World

Dialogue, Dialectics, Structure and Conjuncture


Popular education is radically democratic and anti-authoritarian. So how do we “teach” it? Is there a canon to be learned? Are there wrong ways to do popular education? Popular education recognizes that our world includes both structures (relatively permanent relationships of power) and conjunctures (significant intersections/confluences of social-political and other forces in contestation, if not crisis). Popular education emerged out of historical conditions and has advanced and grown through conjunctural opportunity. This popular education is both an historical process (i.e. it grew and was named in a particular place and time) and aan insurgent frame for diverse radical educational practices/theories including: critical pedagogy, aboriginal education, labour education, feminist pedagogy, queer pedagogy, anti-racist education, global/development education, direct action, activist education, and more. Popular education typically engages this diversity through dialogue that is democratic, participatory and dialectical. In dialogue exists the opportunity to share and critically examine experience, connecting - dialectically - our experience with theory, creating new understandings of both theory and experience. What kinds of learners/teachers have we been? How can we challenge and expand our own notions of education for social change? What are the limits of dialogue, participation and dialectical thinking? (Later in the course we will explore other ways of knowing and learning that can change for the better popular education praxis – notably aboriginal ways of knowing, weak ontology and trickster pedagogy.)



Freire, Paulo

2000    Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition. NY: Continuum. pp. 71-124.

Freire, Paulo

1994     Pedagogy of Hope. NY: Continuum. pp. 7-49.



«Burbules, Nicholas

2000    The Limits of Dialogue as a Critical Pedagogy. http://faculty.ed.uiuc.edu/burbules/papers/limits.html

Ledwith, Margaret and Jane Springett

      2010     Chapter Three: A Participatory Worldview in Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press. Pp. 59-80.Lerner, Michael

1991    Chapter 1: Powerlessness Corrupts in Surplus Powerlessness: The Psychodynamics of Everyday Life… and the Psychology of Individual and Social Transformation. NJ: Humanities Press International, Inc., pp. 2-19.

Grande, Sandy

2004    Chapter 1: Mapping the Terrain of Struggle: From Genocide, Colonization, and Resistance to Red Power and Red Pedagogy in Red Pedagogy: NativeAmerican Social and Political Thought. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 11-30.

Battiste, Marie (Battiste, Marie, ed.)

2000    Introduction: Unfolding the Lessons of Colonization in Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision. Vancouver: UBC Press, pp. xvi-xxx.


Action is the antidote to despair.  - Joan Baez


Words have power to destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world. - Shunryu Suzuki


A wise man hears one word and understands two. – Yiddish proverb.


Drop a word in the ocean of meaning and concentric ripples form. To define a single word means to try to catch those ripples. No one’s hands are fast enough. Now drop two or three words in at once. Interference patterns form, reinforcing one another here and cancelling each other there. To catch the meaning of the words is not to catch the ripples that they cause; it is to catch the interaction of those ripples. This is what it means to listen; this is what it means to read. It is incredibly complex, yet humans do it every day, and very often laugh and weep at the same time. Writing, by comparison, seems altogether simple, at least until you try. - Robert Bringhurst – The Solid Form of Language


Dialogue is the encounter between people, mediated by the world, in order to name the world. Hence, dialogue cannot occur between those who want to name the world and those who do not wish this naming - between those who deny other people the right to speak their word and those whose right to speak has been denied them. Those who have been denied their primordial right to speak their word must first reclaim this right and prevent the continuation of this dehumanizing aggression - Paulo Freire


4. October 3:

Working with Cracks in Consent: Not So Common Sense

Hegemony; power; resistance; imagination; subjectivity


Hegemony/counterhegemony is a political theory of oppression, consent and resistance. Much that we do from minute-to-minute and day-to-day is based on applying common sense to the countless routines of the everyday. Made up of an anything-but-accidental mish mash of good sense, bad sense (and nonsense), common sense has a history, one in which we are all implicated. Hegemony/counterhegemony is one field of theory that articulates this complexity in order better to resist oppression.



Freire, Paulo

2000    Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition. NY: Continuum. pp. 124-183.

Freire, Paulo

1994     Pedagogy of Hope. NY: Continuum. pp. 50-81.

Mayo, Peter

1999    Antonio Gramsci & Adult Education in Gramsci, Freire and Adult Education: Possibilities for Transformative Action. London: Zed Books, pp. 35-57.

Simon, Roger

1982   Gramsci’s Concept of Hegemony: an outline in Gramsci’s Political Thought: An Introduction. London: Lawrence & Wishart, pp. 21-28.

marino, dian

1997  Re:framing: Hegemony and Adult Education Practices in Wild Garden: art, education and the culture of resistance. Toronto: Between the Lines, pp. 103-118.



«Boal, Augusto

1997    The Theatre of the Oppressed in UNESCO Courier, retrieved on August 30, 2009 from . FindArticles.com. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1310/is_1997_Nov/ai_20099663/

hooks, bell

1994    Paulo Freire in Teaching to Transgress. New York: Routledge pp. 45-58.

Green, Leslie

2001    Heterosexism in the Classroom in Voices from the Classroom: Reflections on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Newton, Janice, et al, eds.) Toronto: Garamond Press, pp. 73-78.

Little Bear, Leroy (Battiste, Marie, ed.)

2000    Jagged World Views Colliding in Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision. Vancouver: UBC Press, pp. 77-85.

Every teacher is always a pupil and every pupil is always a teacher. - Antonio Gramsci


Bread & Puppet Broadsheet 1

My name is this and that and I come from here and there and I practice I don’t know what and I am not myself because I am also my government and I am also my economy and I am very much my one-directional totalitarian culture which subdues me and misuses me and uses and misuses my work to the point where I don’t know where my work is itself or where my work is something other than itself or where my work is the opposite of itself and this one-directional culture uses and misuses not only my production but also my protest against these uses ands misuses because my protest is part of its pluralistic glory which is part of its world governing economic order which presents itself as a religion and is as fervently believed in as a religion and extracts from its believers the fanaticism of a fervently believed in religion and the chief characteristic of this self-righteous world governing order is that it is marching on and on and on and on and this marching on and on and on and on has no opposition because it eats opposition for breakfast.


5. October 17:

“In Much Wisdom is Much Grief…”

Seeing the matrix of oppression & resistance


Oppression is the sorrowful legacy of a long history of human suffering at the hands of humans. We use the gift of our imagination in monstrously inventive ways to create suffering and loss such that a few can benefit (apparently) at the expense of the many. We use that same imagination to explain this violence as the natural order of things. Today, after millenia of injustice and after centuries of european colonialism, oppression is a matrix of intersecting,  overlapping and conjoining regimes of class, racialization, patriarchy, body-image tyranny, and numerous other strategies of oppression. What is our shared history of privilege and loss and how does it shape the way we think, learn and act – how we see the world? In what ways are we now new (postcolonial, poststructural?) subjects? How do Aboriginal and Eurocentric values collide in our current context? What are the possibilities before us of linking our resistant subjectivities in order to imagine together a better world – one with more joy? Are you going to take the red pill or the blue pill?



Freire, Paulo

1994     Pedagogy of Hope. NY: Continuum. pp. 82-103.

Kane, Liam

2001    Chapter 1, 2, 3 in Popular Education and Social Change in Latin America. London: Latin America Bureau, pp. 1-89.



Kelley, Robin D.G.

2002    Preface, Chapter 1 & 2 in Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination. Boston: Beacon Press, pp. ix-35.

«Kelley, Robin D.G.

1999    A Poetics of Anticolonialism in http://www.monthlyreview.org/1199kell.htm Monthly Review November 1999.

Ledwith, Margaret and Jane Springett

      2010     Chapter Four: Participatory Practice in a Non-participatory World in Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press. Pp. 81-100.

Lopes, Tina and Barb Thomas

2006    Section 4: Between Us in Dancing on Live Embers: Challenging Racism in Organizations. Toronto: Between the Lines Press p. 220-239.

Smith, Graham Hingangaroa (Battiste, Marie, ed.)

2000    Protecting and Respecting indigenous Knowledge in Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision. Vancouver:UBC Press, pp. 209-224.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai Te Rina (Battiste, Marie, ed.)

2000    Kaupapa Maori Research in Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision. Vancouver: UBC Press, pp. 225-247.


All colonial people, both the colonizer and the colonized, have shared or collective views of the world embedded in their languages, stories, or narratives. - LeRoy Little Bear


Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. - Paulo Freire


Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


For in much wisedome is much griefe: and hee that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow. – Ecclesiastes 1:18 (in 1611 version of King James Bible)


6. October 24:

Notes for a Trickster Pedagogy:

Walking the Talk, Dancing the Dance

Negotiating the matrix of oppression/resistance


We are all connected. “…no one teaches another, nor is anyone self-taught” as Freire says. “People teach each other, mediated by the world…” (80) So how do we confront and overcome the barriers of class and racism and sexism and so on? How do we connect our lives in the context of resistance to oppression to the wider worlds around us? How do we move in, amongst and against the various strands of the matrix of oppression and resistance? “The personal is political” verges now on (easily dismissed) cliché and yet critically understanding the inter-relation of the so-called personal with the world of the political is key to being able to connect despite the oppressions that divide. If popular education includes the transformation of both self and world, then how do we articulate this transformation as both participant and educator? How do we know (evaluate, judge, measure?) whether the transformation we choose/undergo is emancipatory or simply reactionary subservience to the strategies of oppression? How do we become the subjects of a new world while that world yet remains a dream? If exposed to nuclear radiation or toxic spills will we be able to develop superpowers? What about flying? Can laughter help?



«Lugones, Maria

1990   Playfulness, ‘World’-Travelling, and Loving Perception in Making Face, Making Soul = Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Colour (Gloria Anzaldua, ed.; San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books). Pp. 390-402.

Freire, Paulo

1994     Pedagogy of Hope. NY: Continuum. pp. 104-135.


      1987     Fierce Love: Resisting the Weapons the Culture Has Devised against the Self in Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority and Mystery (San Francisco: Harper & Row). Pp. 71-89.




hooks, bell

1994    Language; Confronting Class in the Classroom in Teaching to Transgress. New York: Routledge pp. 167-189.

Rebick, Judy

      2009     Chapter 3 & Chapter 4 in Transforming Power: From the Personal to the Political (Toronto: Penguin). Pp. 53-83.

Rezack, Sherene

1998    Storytelling for Social Change in Looking White People in the Eye: Gender, Race & Culture in Courtrooms & Classrooms. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press pp. 36-55.

Horton, Myles

2003    The Idea of Highlander in Myles Horton Reader: Education for Social Change. (Dale Jacobs ed.). Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press p. 3.

Horton, Myles

1990    One Battle, Many Fronts in The Long Haul: An Autobiography. New York: Anchor Books pp. 175-192.

Bernard, Elaine

2002    Popular Education: Training Rebels with a Cause in Teaching for Change: Popular Education and the Labor Movement. LA, CA: UCLA Center for     Labor Research and Education, pp. 6-8.

«cavanagh, chris

1997    When Two Rivers Meet in Our Times 16:5, pp. 53-57.


The more we work with an awareness of our embeddedness in historical processes, the more possible it becomes to take carefully reasoned oppositional positions. - Ania Loomba


Hitherto philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point however is to change it. - Karl Marx


7. October 31:

Notes for a Trickster Pedagogy:

 “…one CAN’T believe impossible things!”

Exploring Other Ways of Knowing: Storytelling and Aboriginal Ways of Knowing


Popular education can be seen as a new constellation of ancient practices and ideas. Storytelling as practiced, for example, by Sufi and Zen Buddhist teachers and North American aboriginal elders, reminds us of what an ancient popular education pedagogy might have looked like, i.e. a radical respect for the listener’s capacity to make meaning from the narrative which is expressed as a strong, if not categorical, refusal by the teller to interpret the tale. Such a pedagogy is tricky. It resists easy explanation and reduction to x number of foundational points of theory and/or practice. It also strongly resists fitting within the common sense notions of how time is practiced/shared whether that is a three-hour lecture, a half-hour TV sitcom, a 100-minute feature film and so on. Both ancient religions and modern scientists have said that time is an illusion. The Bhagavad Gita, accepted as one of the most beautiful literary creations of any culture, is the ancient record of a dialogue between the warrior-archer Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna (in disguise) about impermanence and illusion and the need to transcend the suffering that comes from want of knowing this. Hinduism codifies this as the goddess Maya which means illusion. Buddhism takes this up as the wheel of Samsara from which we are freed through the pursuit of enlightenment. Taoism thumbs its nose at the whole thing and conjures a tree from a tiny seed in mere minutes. And, as Lawrence Fishburne as Morpheus asks Keanu Reeves as Neo, “You think that’s air you’re breathing now?” (illusion or not, isn’t the dojo awesome?) How do we practice respect for different ways of knowing when some of those ways may be outside our capacity to experience them?



Atleo, E. Richard

2004       Tsawalk: a Nuu-chah-nulth Worldview. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Freire, Paulo

1994     Pedagogy of Hope. NY: Continuum. pp. 136-154.




King, Thomas

1993    The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, Inc.


Foucault, Michel

1997    Self Writing in Ethics: Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984, Vol. 1. (Paul Rabinow - Series Ed.). NY: The New Press pp. 207-222.

Polletta, Francesca

2006    Chapter 1: Why Stories Matter in It Was Like A Fever: Storytelling in Protest and Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 1-31.

Cruikshank, Julie

1998    Preface in The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, pp. xi-xvii.

Cruikshank, Julie

1998    Chapter 2: “Pete’s Song” Establishing Meanings through Story and Song in The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the YukonTerritory. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, pp. 25-44.


For we have built into all of us, old blueprints of expectation and response, old structures of oppression and these must be altered at the same time that we alter the living condition which are the result of those structures. For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. - Audre Lorde


It is a crime that I should

have to use your language

to tell you how I feel that

you have taken mine from me

- Shani Mootoo


Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said: 'one CAN'T believe impossible things.'  'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!' - Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass


8. November 7:

Notes for a Trickster Pedagogy:

The Universe is Made of Stories, Not Atoms

Narrative and popular education


Stories are ubiquitous and, in many ways, go unnoticed for all that. An example, perhaps, of the intent of the proverb, “A fish is the last to discover the water.” Stories are multivalent – no less so than are words, perhaps. Words and stories are protean – taking on new shape and meaning in every context. Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner argues that “narrative knowing” represents one of two dominant modes of knowing, the other being logic or, as he terms it, “logical positivist knowing.” While the latter is accorded scientific validity and therefore power, the former acts ‘out of sight’ equally powerfully and, perhaps, moreso. Stories are powerful codifications of meaning. But to assume that their power is always positive is often a naïve transferance of the experience of pleasure in listening to what is commonly understood as “stories”. But like all experienced comic book readers know, as with the superpowers of spandex-clad metahumans the power of story can be used for good or evil. Many practices of storytelling share much in common with the praxis of popular education. For instance, and to the point, both popular education and storytelling are used  to negotiate new knowledges. How do popular education and storytelling do this? And what is a popular education practice of storytelling?



Stone-Mediatore, Shari

2003    Chapter 2: The Public Role of Storytelling in Reading Across Borders: Storytelling and Knowledges of Resistance. New York: Palgrave-MacMillan pp. 47-65.

Ledwith, Margaret and Jane Springett

      2010     Chapter Five: The Use of Story in Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change.  Bristol, UK: The Policy Press. Pp. 103-126.



Sidney, Angela

1992    It All Begins With a Story in Canadian Theatre Review 73. pp. 4-5.

Yashinsky, Dan

2004    Chapter 1: Suddenly They Heard Footsteps in Suddenly They Heard Footsteps. Toronto: Knopf Canada, pp. 1-15.

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade (Sangtin Writers and Richa Nagar)

2006    Forward in Playing With Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism through Seven Lives in India. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. ix-xv.

Nagar, Richa (Sangtin Writers and Richa Nagar)

2006    Introduction: Playing with Fire: A Collective Journey Across Borders in Playing With Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism through Seven Lives in India. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. xxi-xlvii.


If I can't dance then I don't want to be part of your revolution. - Emma Goldman


I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues. - Duke Ellington


9. November 14:

Notes for a Trickster Pedagogy:

Man thinks and God Laughs

Popular education, play & performance


Popular education, by definition, is a collective process of learning and social change and thus it requires both performance and playfulness. A popular education facilitator may differ from a traditional educator in many ways, but such a facilitator is not, as some would have it, an invisible part of the process. In fact, as much as is possible and appropriate, the power and role of the facilitator should be open to scrutiny and critique and, following from this dialogue, change as necessary. Play is a form of structured risk-taking within which much learning takes place. In fact, a good deal of our first years of life are filled with this particular pedagogical choice. We learn through play. The nature of performance – a kind of play – in this work is something deserving of greater attention than it gets at present. Much can be learned from entertainers who are skilled at holding an audience’s attention, at giving and receiving energy. An educator may require a different quality of attention and exchange of energy but the tools of humour and drama, suspense and release are as relevant in learning contexts as they are in more common sense “entertainment” settings. And, as with many practices so, too, with popular education: there are many tropes and tricks of the trade. How can we improve these? And just how do we use, for learning and critical thinking, the tools of humour and drama, play and playfulness?



marino, dian

1997    Revealing Assumptions: Teaching Participatory Researchers in Wild Garden: art, education and the culture of resistance. Toronto: Between the Lines, pp. 119-127.

Ledwith, Margaret and Jane Springett

      2010     Chapter Six: The Role of Dialogue in Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press. Pp. 127-150.

Freire, Paulo

1994     Pedagogy of Hope. NY: Continuum. pp. 155-204.



hooks, bell

1994    Building a Teaching Community in Teaching to Transgress. NY: Routledge pp. 129-165.

Salverson, Julie

2006    Witnessing Subjects: A fool’s help in A Boal Companion (Cohen-Cruz, Jan & Mady Schutzman, eds.) New York: Routledge. pp. 146-157.

Schutzman, Mady

      2003     Guru Clown, or Pedagogy of the Carnivalesque in Theatre Topics 12:1 (March 2002). Pp. 63-84.

Battiste, Marie (Tripp, Peggy and Linda Muzzin, eds.)

2005    You Can’t be the Global Doctor If You’re the Colonial Disease in Teaching as Activism: Equity Meets Environmentalism. Mtl: McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press, pp. 121-133.


It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. And often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result is the only thing that makes the result come true. - William James


To create a new culture does not only mean to make original discoveries on an individual basis. It also and especially means to critically popularize already discovered truths, make them, so to speak, social, therefore give them the consistency of basis for vital actions, make them coordinating elements of intellectual and social relevance. - Antonio Gramsci


Nevertheless the fact remains that the desire to play is fundamentally the desire to be. - Jean Paul Sartre


10. November 21:

Notes for a Trickster Pedagogy:

Not the Master’s Tools

What are the tools we need?


Educators, activists and community development workers like to have toolkits. But sometimes our very tools are the problem. What does a popular education toolkit look like?

Popular education characteristically uses many forms of cultural production and artistic expression to facilitate learning and action. What do the arts and cultural production contribute to learning and teaching? If they are to be more than merely a nice add-on to otherwise more efficient means we must understand more deeply how popular education produces knowledge and, therefore, how popular educators act as knowledge facilitators and producers? To what extent are our imaginations colonized and how do we overcome the limits within which our imaginations have developed and in which they still find comfort? How do we apply popular education theory to a critical examination of the nature of the tools we fashion? Are we able to examine how our tools change us? And how do we ensure that the tools we make and use resist reproducing relations of domination, hegemony and oppression?



«Darder, Antonia and Zeus Yiamouyiannis

2009    Political Grace and the Struggle to Decolonize Community Practice in Rhizome freirian 4: The Art of Educating. Retrieved on August 28, 2009 from http://www.rizoma-freireano.org/index.php/political-grace-and-the-struggle-to-decolonize-community-practice--antonia-darder-and-zeus-yiamouyiannis.

marino, dian

1997    Landscape for an Easily Influenced Mind: Reflections on My Experience as an Artist and Educator in Wild Garden: art, education and the culture of resistance. Toronto: Between the Lines, pp. 19-42.

1997    Drawing from Action for Action: Drawing and Discussion as a Popular Research Tool in Wild Garden: art, education and the culture of resistance. Toronto: Between the Lines, pp. 61-88



«cavanagh, chris

2005   Do You See What I Mean: The Artistic Obligations of the Popular Educator (unpublished)

Gibsom-Graham, J.K.

2006    Preface, Introduction & Chapter 1 of A Postcapitalist Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp.ix-21.

Ledwith, Margaret and Jane Springett

      2010     Chapter Seven: Critical Reflection in Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press. Pp. 151-170.

Simpson, Jennifer Lyn

2008    The Color-Blind Double Bind: Whiteness and the (Im)Possibility of Dialogue in Communication Theory 18, pp.139–159

Srivastava, Sarita

2007    ‘Let’s Talk’: The Pedagogy and Politics of Antiracist Change in Utopian Pedagogy: Radical Experiments against Neoliberal Globalization. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 294-313.


We were warned that Algebra was going to be really difficult, whereas Einstein was told that it was a hunt for a creature known as “X” and that when you caught it, it had to tell you its name. - Keith Johnstone


11. November 28:

Notes for a Trickster Pedagogy:

Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible

Tactics, Strategy, Praxis


Popular education is explicit about its commitment to effecting change for social justice, economic justice, environmental justice (and so on) and, therefore, is squarely aimed at changing the world for the better. It can be see as a strategy of change, one that includes numerous tactics of learning/teaching. It is both strategy and praxis. Learning to distinguish between strategy, tactic and praxis is itself an important tactic. Hegemony (and common sense) suggests that strategies of persuasion, consent and domination are advanced through virtually countless tactics of everyday life. Popular education locates strategy and tactics of resistance and emancipation in a theory of praxis. One important development of popular education in Latin America is the creation of sistematizacion – a participatory, critical, reflexive process of making meaning from experience (or systematizing experience). What is the potential of sistematizacion to examine and better understand those tactics of everyday life that organize people (and regulate them) into relations of oppression? As “popular theory making”, can sistematizacion (and, by association, popular education) create more effective (counter-hegemonic, anti-hegemonic?) strategies for resisting oppression and living as if the world had more freedom and joy than loss and suffering?



«Galeano, Eduardo

2000    The Right to Rave in Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking Glass World. (Mark Fried, tr.) NY: Metropolitain Books: pp. 333-336.



«Ehrenreich, Barbara

1999    Was It Good For You? in The Progressive 63:1 January 1999, pp. 51-52.

hooks, bell

1994    Engaged Pedagogy in Teaching to Transgress. NY: Routledge pp. 13-22.

1994    Theory as Liberatory Practice in Teaching to Transgress. NY: Routledge pp. 59-75.

hooks, bell

1994    Eros, Eroticism and the Pedagogical Process; Ecstasy in Teaching to Transgress. New York: Routledge pp. 191-207.

Ledwith, Margaret and Jane Springett

      2010     Chapter Eight: Transformative Practice in Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press. Pp. 171-187.Starhawk

2002    The Practice of Direct Democracy in Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, pp. 169-178.

«Sun Tzu (Denma translation group, tr.)

      2001     The Art of War: the Denma translation. Boston: Shambhala Classics.


Before The Balance, Tomorrow

When the enthusiasm

of our time

is recounted

for those

yet to be born,

but who announce themselves

with a kinder face,

we will come out winners,

we who have suffered most.


To be ahead

of one's time

is to suffer much.


But it is beautiful to love the world

with the eyes

of those


to be born.


And splendid

to know oneself already victorious

when everything around

is still so cold, so dark.


Otto René Castillo



12. December 5:

Notes for a Trickster Pedagogy:

 “Be passionately aware

that you could be completely wrong…”

Where do we go from here?


Popular education has utopian dreams. It fancies that it can help bring into existence the “better possible world” heralded by world social forum events. But are the worlds which we are struggling to create worlds in which we will want to live? The death of the hero in V for Vendetta is a cautionary tale aimed at all those of us who struggle to bring into existence a new world. Are we creating a world in which we will want to live? Even be able to live? Will the people we are now have a place in a different world? And, if not, what must we become if we don’t want to be refugees from our own utopias burdened with what could become an overwhelming load of once-acceptable-and-desired-but-now-guilty-pleasures? Is popular education what we expected it to and need it to be? Or is Toto pulling aside a curtain to reveal a charlatan variously charming and conniving? Where has our journey brought us? What does popular education for social change look like from this vantage, albeit merely a stop along a longer journey? How have we re-imagined ourselves and our histories of learning and teaching? Have we, in fact, practised a decolonizing pedagogy? What have been some of our achievements? And some of our contradictions? Do we have new certainties or have we only destabilized old certainties? What do the roads ahead look like? How do we imagine applying popular education in our work? How do we imagine participating in popular education in the classroom, community and the world?



Ledwith, Margaret and Jane Springett

      2010     Chapter Nine: Becoming Whole in Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press. Pp. 189-221.

«Adams, Matt

1999    Look: Out! Pitfalls in Popular Education in Enki’s Tears - Special Edition. Toronto: Catalyst Centre pp. 3-17.



hooks, bell

1994    Essentialism and Experience in Teaching to Transgress. NY: Routledge pp. 77-92.

«Lao Tzu

1992    Hua Hu Ching: The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco.

marino, dian

1997    White Flowers and a Grizzly Bear: Living with Cancer in Wild Garden: art, education and the culture of resistance. Toronto: Between the Lines, p. 145-154.

«Lugones, Maria

2007    Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System in Hypatia 22:1 (Winter 2007) , pp. 186-209.

«Ellsworth, Elizabeth

1989    Why Doesn’t This Feel Empowering? Working Through The Repressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy in Feminisms & Critical Pedagogy. (Luke, Carmen & Jennifer Gore, eds.). New York: Routledge pp. 90-119.


For every complex problem there is a solution that is short, simple and wrong. – Anon


A rabbi whose congregation does not want to drive him out of town isn’t a rabbi. – Talmudic saying.


None attains to the Degree of Truth until a thousand honest people have testified that he is a heretic. – Junaid of Baghdad, Sufi


We are caught in a traffic jam of discursive thought. – Chögyam Trungpa


What strikes me is the fact that, in our society, art has become something that is related only to objects and not to individuals or to life. That art is something which is specialized or done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object but not our life? – Michel Foucault, On a Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of a Work in Progress (Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth) p. 261.


Zen is the madman yelling, “If you wanta tell me that the stars are not words, then stop calling them stars.” – Jack Kerouac





1. Participation & Readings

Weekly attendance and physical, vocal and aural participation is required. Participation in a class is about both your personal development and your contributions to the social and intellectual dynamic of the group. You are expected to do your best to complete the required readings for each session. These readings have been chosen to give you a theoretical grounding in popular education and related practices that both complement and challenge it.


2. Structured Criticisms (completed in class weekly)

A structured criticism is a dynamic way of evaluating something (a classroom situation, reading, event, experience, person, relationship, etc…). A structured criticism can include:


1.     What you connected with and how this insight is important for you or what helped you learn this in this particular class. (At least 3 examples.)

2.     What you learned about the way you learn. (At least 1 example.)

3.     What is at least one thing from your reading that connected with today’s class?

4.     What you would like to change the better to fit you & your values. (At least 2 e.g.s.)


3. A story of why you are here (Due Tues., Sept. 18)

Tell a story of your journey to being a participant in this class. You can include personal history, critical questions, ideas about popular education or other practices and theories of critical education of which you have knowledge or experience. In particular, reflect on your own educational experiences, formal and non-formal, as learner and educator. Include questions, ideas, and/or concerns you may have around popular education for social change. This exercise helps us get acquainted and get a sense of where we are starting out as a class. It also gives you an opportunity to make your own experience of learning and educating a subject of reflection. Suggested length: four pages, double-spaced, typewritten (700-1000 words). And, for you enthusiastic storytellers, please try not to go over 1000 words. (There’s only one course instructor and many of you — you can do the math.) NB: many people end up writing things they would like to share – either the whole or part of this assignment. While there is no obligation to share this writing with anyone other than the course instructor, if, perchance, you do write something you wish to share, please indicate what part (if not the whole) is shareable.


4. PRAXIS PROJECT/PAPER (Due Dec.4 — 2,000-4,000 wds; proposal, if relevant, due Oct. 2)

The objective of this “project/paper” is to apply popular education praxis. This means respecting  the three aspects of praxis: theory, action and critical self-reflection. Below are suggestions from which you can choose or tailor an idea and which include the option to develop your own idea for a project/paper (proposal required).




Project scale/paper length: All projects/papers must include writing on theory (no less than 750 words) and critical self-reflection (no less than 750 words).


Meeting the “ACTION” criteria: action in the context of praxis can be extrinsic or intrinsic. If the former then this could take the form of an application of popular education in the context of community action, classroom practice, personal self-reflection. If intrinsic the form could include a ‘zine, an artist book, visual art.


Collaborations: A project/paper group of two or three participants could be formed. A one-page proposal will be expected by Oct 5. And the minimum word count requires (above) will apply to each individual, i.e. in addition to the collective product, each group member will be expected to submit no less than 750 words on the (relevant) theory of popular education and no less than 750 words of critical self-reflection.


PROPOSALS (DUE Oct 2 if required or opted for) and Praxis Project/Paper decisions: As you will see below, proposals are not required in all cases. Where required, proposals should be one-page (double spaced) and, if relevant, include proposed dates. However if no proposal is done, you will still be expected to declare your choice by October 5.


Some Advice: This project/paper is also an opportunity to reflect systematically on the readings, connecting your self to the theory and history that we will cover. Praxis suggests an emphasis on how the theory that you choose to connect with can have transformative potential in the world — this being some combination of your own self, your community, the world at large and so on.


Praxis Project/Paper Ideas:

     NB: In the case of all art and performance choices, aesthetics will be a consideration.


1.     Community in the Classroom Praxis Paper: Should you opt in to one of the Community in the Classroom Portfolios you could then use that experience as the basis for a critical reflection paper. 

2.     An anthology of Why You Are Here stories: Working with a partner you will act as an editorial team soliciting contributions from fellow participants based on the assignment “A Story of Why You Are Here.” You will choose and edit the submissions and produce them in a form that can be shared with the entire class (you need not be responsible for printing expenses). As an editorial team you will still be expected, individually, to meet the minimum word requirements mentioned above. This project is an example of intrinsic action – the production and sharing (with peers and possibly wider) qualifies as action in the context of this class. NB: This is a first-come-first-served option for which no proposal is needed.

3.     Proposal for 6150 Part II: Should you be continuing in 6150 you could develop a detailed proposal (including discussion of relevant theory) to develop an application of popular education that could be developed during the course and then used either at the Eco-Art Media Festival (first week of March, 2013) or at Encuentro: A Popular Education Gathering (April 2012) or elsewhere.

4.     Popular education facilitation: drawing from the experience of the class you can choose to perform a popular education dialogue/exercise in a context outside the class (another class, with your family and/or friends, co-workers, a community with which you work or of which you are a part. (proposal is required)

5.     Public action: conduct or perform a public action (bankelsang, graffiti, agitprop, popular theatre, etc.) that applies some of the ideas covered in the course. (proposal required)

6.     Oral History Research: in the interests of researching aspects of family or community history related to learning and teaching you may choose to apply some oral history tools. (proposal is optional)

7.     Art Production: produce a ‘zine, art book, comic book, website/blog, visual or sculptural art work that engages dialogically with the ideas encountered in class and in the readings. (proposal is optional)

8.     “Creative” writing: produce a story or script that engages dialogically with the ideas encountered in class and in the readings. (proposal is optional)

9.     In-class performance: perform in class a story, poem, monologue, dialogue that engages dialogically with the ideas encountered in class and in the readings. This performance cannot be any longer than 15 minutes. (proposal is required)

10.   Theory Paper: a conventional theory paper – from thesis statement to conclusion (with all proper references) – plus three suggested journals/periodicals/websites to which this paper can be submitted. (proposal is optional)

11.   Other: proposal required.


5. Portfolio (Due Dec. 4)

Please submit all course work along with your final assignment: structured criticisms, Story of Why You Are Here, one-page proposal (if done), Praxis Project/Paper.





due date

1. Structured Crits



2. Story of Why You Are Here

700-1000 words

Tues., Sept. 18

3. Proposal (1 page) – if relevant

150-250 words

Tues., Oct. 2

4. Praxis Paper

2000-4000 wrds

Tues., Dec. 4

5. Portfolio

All work

Tues., Dec. 4




There are numerous group responsibilities that we can exercise in as individuals and members of small groups. Popular education, traditionally practiced far from the university classroom, presents several challenges when it comes to engaging the university classroom. The temporary community of the classroom, perhaps better conceptualized as a coalition, exists within the (only slightly less) temporary community of the degree program that houses the class.


Popular education praxis implies community. Lacking community popular education is anathema. Thus the degree to which we can engage popular education praxis is related to the quality of community we can build/practice within these ephemeral and (hegemonically) bounded spaces. Whether we are practicing a pedagogy of freedom is something that is well-nigh impossible to evaluate from within the experience (if at all – see Foucault). However, we can aspire to an ideal of praxis and hope that we approach it by exercising an ethic of care for ourselves and each other. Thus, the following portfolios are tendered and available for self-organizing. Each of these responsibilities includes inherent pedagogical opportunities that hold the possibility of contextualizing our popular education praxis and that may also correspond with your Plan of Study (including your major paper/project research). Thus you could choose to take on one of these responsibilities where it furthers your POS. The following descriptions are boilerplates from which you can craft your unique application.


1.     Documentation & Post-Class Dialogue & Course Moodle:

·         Creating a shared (and democratically accessible) record of the knowledge with which we struggle and co-create is a crucial aspect of popular education praxis. There are numerous means for shared record keeping including simple minutes/proceedings (from discussions), ‘zines, murals and other visual means, audio and video recording and digital text shared via the course Moodle. A documentation team can record and share what they deem worth sharing by whatever means they choose. This team could also assist other teams with their documentation needs either by accepting assignments to share the products of other teams’ work or by instructing other teams in the best way to document and share what they have. Finally, while the Moodle site is a powerful resource for sharing information and engaging in on-line discussion, unless this is actively encouraged and facilitated it tends to languish. The documentation team could act to dynamize this tool in some way.

2.     Food to Think With

·         The human body needs regular rest and nourishment and it is certainly part of both academic and corporate culture to rely on docile bodies trained to rhythms of meeting and prolonged physical inactivity at the expense of healthy biological needs and rhythms. Healthy food and water is a basic necessity of life in which we all share. The kinds of food we eat and the countless ways in which we eat it are rich in pedagogical opportunities. A “Food to Think With” team can help organize the sharing of food by encouraging and coordinating potlucks snacks and meals. NOTE: this is NOT a tacit means of recruiting a small group to feed the collective. It is the responsibility that is being undertaken and which can be enacted both by contributing food (of course) AND by mobilizing collective contributions.

3.     Course Evaluation

·         Evaluation can take many forms from informal to formal. This course follows a curriculum design that organizes 12 sessions, independent and group study and several individual and collective activites and assignments and each class models popular education praxis (objectives, ethics, ideals, politics and process). How well and to what degree each of these aspects of popular education praxis is realized is variable and diverse. An evaluation team can systematize  how we collectively and individually evaluate our classes and the course.

4.     Process Observation

·         Each moment that we spend together is abundant in the ways and dynamics of how humans interact (communicate, deliberate, discuss, etc.). Any group process recapitulates to varying degrees and in various ways, dominant behaviours good and bad. Group process can also prefigure the more just world towards which popular education and numerous other social justice practices aspire. A process observation team can apply a process lens to various classes and share findings where appropriate.

5.     A Passion for Reading

·         Needless to say, there’s never enough to read all that we want to read nor time enough adequately to discuss all that we have read. A “Passion for Reading” team could put extra energy into reading assigned texts (e.g. applying close readings, committing to reading some of the recommended texts) and/or commit to reading additional material which they research. Any and all of this could be shared with the class using various media (‘zines, reading reports, Moodle).

6.     Taking Action

·         While there can be a tendency to think of the university classroom as existing outside of (or at least to the side of) the ‘real’ world of ceaseless action, this is, for some, merely a convenient fiction. The river of the lifeworld flows perpetually. Popular education theorizes that knowedge that is not yet applied is also not yet “learned”. Learning is only complete (though never final) once it has been applied and only once it has been subjected to critical reflection. A Taking Action team could discuss and research possible applications (whether merely imagined and theoretical or actual) of what we share together. This team could also look ahead to 6150 Part II in the winter which includes several possibilities for action, including the Eco-Art Media Festival and Encuentro (an annual popular education symposium/conference).

7.     And now for something completely different

·         The unexpected, unplanned for, surprising, often (though not always) humourous is a powerful source of learning. This team can play with this notion.


Thinking ahead to 6151

Popular Education for Social Change Part II: Practice / Theory


For those of you who would like to continue the work you do in 6150 you may wish to consider enrolling in 6151. In which case you are encouraged to integrate 6150 with your plans for 6151. The purpose of 6151 is to explore popular education through applied theory and practice. It is a more hands-on experience which includes training in facilitation and popular education curriculum design - we learn by doing. The focus of 6151 is somewhat negotiable and can be discussed during 6150 in the Fall. Past classes have focused on developing popular education activities (a manual of over 40 activities was written and produced) and a Seize the Moment series of workshops on climate change. This coming April, we will be collaborating on the organizing and design of a one or two-day popular education conference called ENCUENTRO. You are encouraged to consider making proposals for what we could focus on in 6151. The challenge we face is that of pursuing learning objectives while taking action in the world – or, in a word, praxis.


Session Title Sources:

1.         “While Love is Unfashionable”: title of poem by Alice Walker in Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems 1965-1990 Complete, NY: Harcourt, 2003. p.233.

2.         Education as the Praxis of Freedom: based on title of essay (Education as the Practice of Freedom) by Paulo Freire in Education for Critical Consciousness, NY: Continuum, 1973, pp. 1-84.

3.         Reading the Word and Reading the world: paraphrase of book title Literacy: Reading the Word and the World by Paulo Freire and Donaldo Macedo, South Hadley, MA, 1987, pp.29-32.

4.         Working with Cracks in Consent I: Not So Common Sense: “cracks in consent” is a term used by dian marino in Wild Garden: art, education and the culture of resistance, Toronto: Between the Lines, 1997, pp.22-25.

5.         In Much Wisdom is Much Grief…”: excerpt from phrase (Chapter 1, Verse 18) in Ecclesiastes from the King James Bible (1611).

6.         Walking the Talk, Dancing the Dance: elaboration of common aphorism.

7.         One Can’t Believe Impossible Things, Lewis Carroll, Chapter 5: Wool and Water in Through the Looking Glass.

8.         The Universe is Made of Stories, Not Atoms: Muriel Ruckeyser excerpt from poem The Speed of Darkness in The Speed of Darkness (1968) NY: Random House.

9.         Man Thinks and God Laughs: Yiddish saying.

10.       Not the Master’s Tools: paraphrase from Audre Lorde. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” In Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches, pp. 110-113. Trumansburg: The Crossing Press, 1984.

11.       Be realistic, demand the impossible: graffiti and a favourite expression of the Situationists during the May 1968 uprisings in Paris and Europe.

12.       “Be passionately aware that you could be completely wrong…”: dian marino



Vientos del Pueblo — Victor Jara

De nuevo quieren manchar
mi tierra con sangre obrera
los que hablan de libertad
y tienen las manos negras

Los que quieren dividir
a la madre de sus hijos
y quieren reconstruir
la cruz que arrastrara Cristo

Quieren ocultar la infamia
que legaron desde siglos,
pero el color de asesinos
no borrarán de su cara

Ya fueron miles y miles
los que entregaron su sangre
y en caudales generosos
multiplicaron los panes

Ahora quiero vivir
junto a mi hijo y mi hermano
la primavera que todos
vamos construyendo a diario

No me asusta la amenaza,
patrones de la miseria,
la estrella de la esperanza
continuará siendo nuestra

Vientos del pueblo me llaman,
vientos del pueblo me llevan,
me esparcen el corazón
y me aventan la garganta

Así cantará el poeta
mientras el alma me suene
por los caminos del pueblo
desde ahora y para siempre

Winds of the People - Victor Jara

Once more they want to stain
my country with workers’ blood
those who talk of liberty
and whose hands are blackened

those who wish to separate
the mother from her sons
and want to reconstruct
the cross that Christ dragged

They want to hide their infamy
their legacy from the centuries,
but the color of murders
cannot be wiped from their faces

Already thousands and thousands
have sacrificed their blood,
and its generous streams
have multiplied the loaves of bread

Now I want to live
beside my son and my brother,
daily working together on
a new springtime for all of us

You can’t scare me with your threats
you masters of misery;
the star of hope
continues to be ours.

Winds of the people are calling me
winds of the people carry me
they scatter my heart
and take the breath from my throat

so the poet will sing
as long as my soul sounds
from the roads of my people
now and forever.






1.  What did you connect with

2 x EASIER: I observed that it was easier to remember a lot of the names in this class when we associated something with our names. I think this association process helped me remember.

FACES: I noticed that I could listen better today, and I think something that helped was sitting in a circle so I could see most of the faces of those who spoke up.

LECTURES & CONVERSATIONS: I felt that the class was very informal, and this is important to me because I find it easier to participate and express myself in this kind of setting. It also means that I had better listen carefully to the conversational lectures.

What did you learn about the way you learn?

Social: I found that I learn best when some discussion is involved.

3.  What would you like to change

SPEAKING TO BE HEARD: Something that I would like to change or have a concern about is that some people in the class spoke so softly that I did not hear everything they said. How about if I suggest that they speak up the next time this happens?







marino, dian

    1997  Wild Garden: art, education and the culture of resistance. Toronto: Between the Lines,  p.93-94.