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Popular education

Teaching literacy in a new light

Phil Duffy
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 11/01) - A recent adult literacy program focused on a new theory called popular education.

The three-day workshop, hosted by the NWT Literacy Council, wrapped up May 3. The purpose of the workshop, entitled Student-Based and Student-Centred Adult Literacy and Basic Education Programs, was to help adult literacy practitioners and educators understand how the theory of popular education can work in their Northern classrooms and communities.

Popular education is based on what participants are concerned about, encourages everyone to learn and teach, and makes use of people's emotions, actions, intellects and creativity.

There were adult educators in attendance from Fort Simpson, Fort Resolution, Fort Providence, Deline, Inuvik, Edmonton and Yellowknife.

"When I got here I had no idea what to expect, and little direction. Now I am full of ideas and have a vision on how to proceed," said Reandre Beaulieu, an adult literacy tutor from Fort Resolution.

Robert Goulet, a teacher from Aurora College in Deline, was also glad he attended. "I came away with a rejuvenated spirit in regard to popular education. I had studied it before and am now reminded of its benefits."

Prose writer, poet, and renown author of such books as Guerra Prolongada (Protracted War) and And a Body to Remember, Carmen Rodriguez, was the facilitator of the workshop.

"I have worked in education in many areas and situations for more than 30 years now and I bring my experience to communities that, for whatever reason, have been historically, politically or socially oppressed," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was born in Chile and, after escaping from the military coup of 1973, moved to Canada where she now works for Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

"Popular education is also known as literacy for change because it incorporates the heritage and lives of the individual community into the learning process," said Rodriguez.