What is Popular Education?

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  • 02/15/2010

Popular education is education for a genuine democracy.

This statement immediately raises two big questions.

The first question is: how do people really learn?

They learn a lot differently than the lecture-format of traditional schooling.

People learn from doing, from reflecting on what just happened, by investigating root causes in discussion with others, by talking and thinking together.

The “Learning Heads” illustrate how much more information people retain when they engage more of their senses in the process.  My theory is that adding passionate commitment  ratchets the learning up several notches.

Learning HeadsSource: Educating for a Change

The second question is what is a genuine democracy?

Can genuine democracy exist when the economy is enormously unequal, if the gap between the richest and poorest people in the country gets larger every day?  Can genuine democracy exist if decisions about how the land is used and how our cities develop are made by a handful of powerful people?

Of course not.  Popular education is in the service of the movements that work for change.  Movements that work to make the economy less unequal and more democratic.  Movements that work to broaden the field of who gets to make informed decisions about the land and our cities.  Movements that model the change we want to see.

Those movements build learning to build change in a spiral  of collective experience, discovery, strategy, action, and reflection:

spiral model

Source: Educating for a Change

Here are a few more resources on popular education.  Just to get you started.  There are many more.

  • The Popular Education News:  a good site to get you started with more information including an annotated bibliography, links to organizations,  schedules of gatherings, and more.

One Comment

  • […] But more philosophically, it is entirely about getting to know your place: finding out where the sunlight spends most of its time in summer and winter, where the cold air collects, where the soil changes and moisture collects. It’s about acknowledging all of your assets, seeing how you — and everything around you — fit together, work together, improve or help each other. You can only live this way by constantly working to see the world around you holistically, deepening how you understand it. You no longer see just a chicken, but what a chicken eats, how it lives, what it produces as the picture above shows. This requires deep reflection on experience, in preparation for acting, building, creating, before reflecting again in a perfect popular education spiral. […]

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