Feminist Arts Conference, Toronto
Had a lot of fun facilitating at the Feminist Arts Conference in Toronto. Inspiring and provocative discussions, art work, initiatives. Queer dance collective that has revived and subverted burlesque, what they call Unapologetic Burlesque. A print collective that used street signs to campaign and raise awareness around street harassment, the Street Talk Project.
Fran Rawlings and I facilitated a session on Claiming space: navigating gender and power. We adapted the flower power exercise (inter-sectionality) and did some human sculptures and dialogue around power analysis and strategies for change. Some great discussions about how we have agency in some areas and not in others, our negotiability. How we open spaces of power in these small ways as well as the ways that we challenge, hold accountable and organize. The general use of the flower power I find much too binary a treatment of oppression.
I was really moved by the work of Karen Miranda Augustine- Painted Love: Requiems for Salacious Sex Queens. Funeral wreaths for women involved in the sex industry with re-used or discarded tires, hair, nail polish. She led a fascinating discussion on eulogy. Click on the link below to go to her site.
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Is Transformative Learning Online Possible?
With colleagues Catherine Irving and Joan Francuz, presented a paper at the Transformative Learning Conference at Columbia University in NY October 23-25. The paper describes our experience putting a face to face course in community-based microfinance that I taught for several years online.
Can online be transformative? Our experience is that it can be as powerful and altering as strong face to face education in the right conditions and we are only beginning to understand what that means. The key is leveraging what online learning can uniquely offer. We found three things unique to online:
- Participants are embedded in their work allowing for real-time experimentation in their field work and inquiries. Things are messy, complex, power-ridden in our work. We all need time and space to ask the right questions and experiment with peer supports and conceptual analysis.
- Space and time is expanded allowing for emergent issues to arise. We often don't know what we don't know. Online courses have the time to be more emergent- pulling in resources (human and conceptual) as they arise. In the mix of canned vs emergent content, there is much more potential here to be student-centred.
- Private space and deliberation are key. Literature and our experience has found that online provides opportunities to alter power and gender even personality dynamics. One participant in Egypt reported greater comfort in formulating her thoughts online than being drawn upon in a class. People can draft, revise, even return to earlier dialogues. Critical for those for whom english is not a first language. Or certain frameworks or approaches are new. Even introverts benefit. This collapses the power and space dynamics compared to a face to face environment considerably. The extended time and space allow individuals to take what is relevant to their own life and work- synthesize, integrate.
Global Change Leaders Women's Leadership Program
I coordinated and facilitated the Global Change Leaders program at the Coady Institute this past April for seven weeks. Women working against human trafficking, violence against women, bonded labour, for economic security, education. Such a privilege to work with and learn from such an inspiring and dedicated group of women!
This is Kodwa from South Africa explaining the path of women's rights and struggles in Africa as we collectively build Herstory globally. Like her counterparts- powerful.
Arts in Transformative Learning
Peter Taylor (IDRC formerly IDS, University of Sussex) and I just finished an article on the transformative potential of arts in learning and social change. It draws on examples of poetry, creative writing and experiences of innovative practice shared by adult educators through an e-forum from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. The paper provides a conceptual frame to explore tensions in adult learning between the mytho-poetic and the critical-rational, and between the individual and the collective. It will be published in the Journal of Adult and Contiuing Education in October.Contact me if you'd like a copy.
Distance Course on Savings Groups
From February to May, I facilitated a 15-week distance (online) course on community-based microfinance for the Coady Institute with co-facilitators from India and Zimbabwe. Savings group practitioners stayed in their organizations and communities while deepening their practice. The course used a hands-on, peer-exchange, participatory learning format including field-based assignments.
We had participants from Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, India and Guyana. Join us next February. Bursaries are available for field practitioners from the Global South.http://coady.stfx.ca/education/distance/momf/