Summer 2009 Retreat

Summer 2009 Retreat

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My ED190 Story

I consider myself an ED 190 All Star. Between '05-'07 I was a student, a facilitator three times, and a researcher for the Education for Change project. Education for Change just made a lot of sense to me--a lot more sense than the classes I was taking in the Haas School of business at least! After working my tootsie off to get admitted into the prestigious business school I found myself stuck between two seemingly polar opposite worlds: classes on how to make your letterheads look professional on one side, and organizing afterschool programs at Castlemont High School in East Oakland on the other. It was easy to decide how to spend the rest of my intellectual and emotional energy.

Since graduating in '07 I've had the privilege of working in the education systems here and abroad. I worked after school at Rosa Parks Elementary in Berkeley and also in Korea at a private English academy. These positions were my chance to employ the tools we learned in Education for Change in real life! And I took that chance. Here and abroad my students made their own class rules, exercised consensus, and systematically questioned the systems in place in their young lives.

But empowering the students wasn't without difficulty. At Rosa Parks, every class consensus was contested by entitled students unwilling to compromise. And even the simplest decision to have snacktime at a different location was met with sanctions from the school itself. Bringing change into the afterschool program was like bringing salt water taffy to a party: many were skeptical and to enjoy it took a bit of time (and chewing!).

In a Korean English Academy, the obstacles to radical change were of a different breed. Consensus was rarely difficult to achieve, but students struggled to understand the concept of "radical." For instance, snacktime was in their realm of possibilities, but not snacktime beyond the classroom door. "Radical" is all relative to the norm, and the Korean norm is particularly conservative. (Closed circuit cameras in every classroom probably compounded these conservative aptitudes.)

After reading some of these posts, I'm refreshed to know Ed for Change is still vibrantly alive and kicking! I just wanted to check back in with the community, and checking in is an integral part of it! As we adventure into the world and continue collecting the vials of vital life juice, it's important we keep keep the community alive. I suppose that's pretty easy to do--just keep bringing people into the world of equal voices, into the world of critical pedagogy. Everyone wants to be there deep down, and we have a pretty neat framework that can help the world achieve that. No matter what your job is, teaching, acting, accounting, fire-fighting, home-making there is a place for community building.

Speaking of which! My band Swingset Committee just got signed and released our first album! We are touring California and moving to NYC where we will be starving artists (hopefully not for too long!). Give us a listen at our myspace: and if you dig the groove you can download our EP "In Transit" on iTunes.

Also, if you want to see a good live show: Feb 15th in SF @ El Rio, Feb 19th in LA @ R Bar, and Feb 25 in SD @ West Coast Tavern. All the details are on the Myspace.
Lets all keep the dialogue going and the modes and systems flipping on their heads.

-Andrew Belinsky
Class of 2007

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