Monday, February 15, 2016

A Round-up of Resources for Popular Education

Having recently stumbled across a website with over 500 improv game descriptions, i was reminded of the wealth of material available for popular education, popular theatre, participatory learning, and social justice work, etc.

So, here’s a bunch:

  1. The Improv Encyclopedia: descriptions of over 500 Improv games plus a downloadable PDF of same.
  2. Games for Actors and Non-actors by Augusto Boal: some dude has uploaded a PDF of the entire second edition. Handy. But i also strongly recommend buying this book and adding it to your collection. It has several hundred descriptions of Theatre of the Oppressed exercises and some good discussions of their use.
  3. Augusto Boal’s Forum Theatre for Teachers: this is a workshop report (a 40K PDF) that includes a dozen concise descriptions of theatre exercises. The workshop description is also good for understanding just what a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop looks like
  4. Paper Spiders and Lucy Frogs: This is a collection of 44 popular/environmental education exercises that were produced by the students of the graduate popular education class i teach at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies
  5. Getting the Community Into the Act: 72 Participatory Activities for Field Workers and Trainers: this is a wonderful manual that i used a great deal in the 80s. Produced by Pat Ellis of the University of the West Indies’ Women and Development Unit, it still has remarkable relevance for community work, social justice activism, and popular education.
  6. Catalyst Centre’s Resources Catalogue: This catalogue has some of the above resources and many more that are downloadable. It’s a treasure trove.
  7. The Barefoot Guide: This is a stellar resource that i can’t recommend strongly enough. An amazing global collaboration, it’s now up to four books (all freely downloadable) as well as an always growing list of activities (check out their Resource Library and especially their Tools and Exercises). I’ve recommended  this resource to dozens of students and countless others. These guides produce and preserve wonderful knowledge from social movements around the world.
  8. Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution: This is a terrific collection of stuff divided into sections: Tactics (34), Principles (56), Theories (31), Case Studies (43), Practitioners (54). I think the Tactics, Principles, Case Studies, and Practitioners sections are solid. The last is an excellent mix of individuals and organizations - a nice example of pushing back against the tendency to individualize so much of social justice activism. I take issue with the Theories section which tries to summarize too much in only three or four paragraphs. It feels anemic. It’s almost impossible not to misrepresent things when such concision is applied. And, when dealing with things as complex as theories (and i’m not sure i support all the entries as even being theories), i feel that a short description can be worse than no description. I take particular issue with those “theories” that are dearest to my heart: Pedagogy of the Oppressed (not a bad summary), Theatre of the Oppressed (could be better), Cultural Hegemony, and Intellectuals and Power (i think these latter two simply get some things wrong).
  9. The  Big List of Class Discussion Strategies (from the blog Cult of Pedagogy): This is pretty decent list of 15 different classroom-based methods. I’ve used versions of many of these over the years. some are rather rudimentary and would work well with primary or high school students  but less well with adults. Others are de rigueur for any educator to know and use (e.g. "Gallery Walk” is what i consider an essential large group tool - excellent for many purposes and good for all types of groups). My quibble is that these 15 methods are very talk and/or text heavy and, as can be seen by the plethora of methods referred to in this listing, there are far more diverse methods that can be applied than is generally considered possible.
  10. Training for Change: Lots of good stuff on this website including over 80 tool/activity descriptions for organizing, facilitating meetings, doing nonviolent trainings, and more.
  11. The Change Agency: This is an excellent website produced in Australia and collecting and disseminating education and training materials from around the world.I particularly appreciate learning about methods from Australia, New Zealand and other south Pacific nations. 
  12. Tales to Tell: This is a collection of many of the short wisdom tales i tell in popular education work. I’m always adding new ones.

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