Check out this interview with Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez. Here are some great quotes…
So one of the things we do in our organization is anytime we do a plan or have an event, we do an evaluation. What went well, what can be improved, you know? And to see how to make things better.
And the thing is, the people you are working with, they will give you the answers. So, you don’t have to have all of the answers when you start. As long as you have an idea of what you want to happen and start working on that idea, then the answers will come.
This point is very much tied to Freire’s idea of liberation praxis – acknowledging that learners, or activists in this case, bring their own experience to a particular cause or campaign and that through reflection they will come up with the answers. There is no need for people to be fed information all the time. Force feeding the “right” answers is in fact an oppressive act, Freire would argue, because it limits inquiry and the potential creation of new ideas, new ways of thinking. Read this chapter from Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed to learn more.
I think the same holds true in the classroom. Learning can and must value the experiences and perspectives of those in the learning space.
I see many ways that this article can be used in the classroom.
- Have students think about various labor rights and standards that may now be taken for granted, but were established and defended by labor unions, like the UFW, through nonviolent actions. Are their any working conditions that students currently feel are unjust?
- Have students think about campaigns or actions of which they have been a part and reflect on what lessons they may have learned from those experiences.