Storytellers and Community Partner Relationships
We are still working with Lily and Sonia every Friday in Ray, chatting in English (as much as possible) about the pictures they or we bring in, but we have also added the PC student body/passers-by in Slavin (and facebook users) to our storytellers. This has added an anonymous component to the stories we are receiving. On facebook, the stories are coming in anonymously to our Reclaiming Education page where we’ve asked “What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your life?” People have sent in photos and captions to our gmail account, which we then post on the facebook page. We hope to get more opinions and perspectives on education from people with different levels of formal education and people who are at different stages in the process of education. To deepen the differing perspectives, we are also going to distribute posters asking for responses to our questions in academic departments to get professors’ responses as well.
So far, the photos we have been discussing with Sonia and Lily are photos from their past of their families and important events. They fall within the “artifacts” category of the Mitchell book. We’ve asked them to bring back pictures about what education means to them for next week, because up until now our conversations about the photos have probably served the “building rapport” purpose rather than the “social change” purpose (though the relationships in themselves are social change too!). Other than that, we have taken a little bit of a different spin with our visual research. We put up one poster last week in lower Slavin with the prompt “I want to learn…” and left markers for people to record their responses. We also created a facebook page with the prompt “What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your life?” On the facebook page, we’ve asked for people to submit photos and captions, but on the wall in Slavin we have only handwriting.
The poster in Slavin received a lot of responses and the facebook page is still receiving more entries. It has 37 likes so far and we are looking for more ways to promote it within PC (Feinstein, ResLife…).
From Sonia and Lily, we’ve learned some really interesting things based on their stories and perspectives. Relevant to education, they told us about how they believe that education begins with the mother, which places a lot more emphasis on the family. The family is one of the smallest systems of relationships there is, so if that is where your important education happens, how we think about learning and education has to shift. Within the family, learning comes from relationships and from example. Relationship based learning, whether it comes from the traditional family or from other families that we form (communities, capstone?), is the learning that carries you and is meaningful. The education system as a whole doesn’t tend to view things that way; rather, it pushes for passive learning and often doesn’t reflect the “real world” that requires us to work with other people to effectively solve the issues that we face globally. Though the education system claims to teach us the most important skills, it doesn’t create a space to use those skills in a critical way to promote social change.
Final Event/Social Change Questions
We really need help with our final event and audience! We are imagining maybe an “Education and Storytelling” event that allows us to share the stories that Lily and Sonia have shared with us as well as the responses we have received from our posters and facebook page. The education system doesn’t reflect the knowledge to be gained from human interactions, the real world, our experiences together, and what we need to live well together, so we want to present something that challenges both the content that we are required to learn and the terms on which that learning takes place.
What are we actually trying to change in society? Though it sounds vague, we want to change how people view education and what’s required of us in terms of that learning.
April 14–post “I pay $57, 135 a year to…” prompt in Slavin
this week–distribute posters to departments
April 18–present our workshop and take down the poster prompt
April 19–meet with Sonia and Lily to go over the photos they took about education
April 22–post a new prompt in Slavin
April 25–take down poster from Slavin
April 26–meet with Sonia and Lily
last week–event prep
Overall Questions / Challenges
Right now, we are struggling the most with clearly identifying our problem and the final event audience. It’s also hard to connect the experiences we’re having with Sonia and Lily with the data we’re getting from facebook and the poster.
The global impacts of this is that the current education system presents the world as it is and presents a very narrow vision of that world that does not reflect the lived realities. Allowing learning, anywhere, to take place on the level of relationships that appreciate the variety of experiences and knowledge that everyone has, would allow people to better confront the global issues that we’re dealing with. Education for empowerment and social change is what we’re trying to envision with all of this.