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Author: Roger Hopkins

Abstract

My students are made aware of the analogy between paying attention and pancakes. The views of Nicholas Carr and James Willaims are outlined and there is an explanation of how Peter Bregman and Michael Taft’s methods can help improve attention spans. The importance of silence in listening is emphasised and a “circular response” exercise is illustrated to encourage greater attention in activists. The ideas of Baracci, Berardi and Odell are explained while the centrality of individual attention to the creation of effective collective attention is examined. Finally, the current vogue for multitasking is criticised.

In: Educating for Action
Author: Roger Hopkins

Abstract

This chapter focuses on establishing a curriculum for social activists based on the ideas of the American educationalist John Dewey. His ideas regarding social education and the need to stress reflective thinking in support of collective attitudes to society and democracy are highlighted. The chapter then presents some collective exercises to encourage group thinking and action and suggests how thinking compartmentally can be resisted by using a systems thinking methodology. The Cynefin Framework is described with reference to solutions to complex action group problems. To conclude, the chapter emphasises the need for activists to recognise the difference between clouds and clocks.

In: Educating for Action
Author: Roger Hopkins

Abstract

The importance of formal language is stressed, and Basil Bernstein’s language codes are explained, together with the author’s methods of achieving language formality. A Bullshit Bingo exercise and Raymond Williams’s Keyword list are also used to help activists achieve formal fluidity. The use of commonplace vocabulary, including cliches, to challenge social cohesion is emphasised by reference to Hannah Arendt’s study of Adolf Eichman and “the banality of evil”. “Tag” words that are used to generate a sympathetic communication environment for advocates of neoliberalism are highlighted and approaches to counter this phenomenon are suggested.

In: Educating for Action
Author: Roger Hopkins

Abstract

The strengths and weaknesses of common-sense thinking, with a consideration of alternative thinking strategies – and their relevance to stimulating reflective social action – are the main focus of this chapter. Clifford Geertz’s definition of common sense is explained. The durability of common sense thinking in the student population is considered and explored with an historical perspective on the hostility of English political thinkers to the concept of “theory”. Five examples of contemporary common-sense thinking are analysed while the Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci’s concept of the organic intellectual is outlined as is its on-going relevance to social activists. Finally, the chapter considers the current neoliberal “common sense” vocabulary and how it can be opposed for collective action purposes.

In: Educating for Action
Author: Roger Hopkins

Abstract

The chapter emphasises the pivotal role of conversation in social action education and social activism. The thoughts of Michel de Montaigne are introduced and their relevance to contemporary activist thinkers assessed. Some methods to encourage students and activists to use genuine dialogue, as opposed to discussion, in generating positive conversation are proposed, while the need for activists to acquire deeper listening skills, speech patterns and metaphors is stressed. Finally, task versus dialogue processes are described and some thoughts on dialogue and democracy are provided.

In: Educating for Action
Author: Roger Hopkins

Abstract

Here the advantages of informal settings for effective action-orientated teaching, while providing examples of good conversation, are described. Freire’s authentic and unauthentic language usage, and Habermas’s “validity” claims are discussed, while the use of bullshit is challenged by providing activists with three anti-bullshit strategies. The chapter ends with an overview of the current use of language in political and social media discourse.

In: Educating for Action
Author: Roger Hopkins

Abstract

Why good leadership and leadership styles are essential to successful social action is explored and reasons for the use of a Group Leadership grid are given. Reference to Bruce Tuckman’s group development model, a premortem, a Circle of Voices exercise and two exercises to assist effective group listening and group dialogue is made in depth. Tips to generate productive action teams and meetings are also made as are the views on collective action of Elinor Ostrom.

In: Educating for Action
Author: Roger Hopkins

Abstract

In this chapter the vital importance of storytelling to social activists is emphasised and the need for collective feedback to reinforce its implementation is explained. Some teaching methods are described and adapted to develop storytelling ability in students and activists. The importance of Emmanuel Levinas’s “you and other” relationship in spreading stories is stressed, while focusing on “engaged” (relevant and specific) stories about politics and history to keep hope alive as an activist weapon for change, is illustrated with reference to some stories from Wales.

In: Educating for Action
Author: Roger Hopkins

Abstract

Consideration is given to the importance of pertinent questions for social activists to use, particularly the “buy why” technique proposed by Paul and Elder. The utility of Paulo Freire’s generative themes theory is highlighted and is followed by an assessment of Irving Goffman’s Frame Analysis and David Snow’s Frame Alignment. Finally, a frame replacement process, and four exercises using the process, are described and discussion generated for the benefit of social activists.

In: Educating for Action
Author: Roger Hopkins

Abstract

The characteristics of social action and its vital role in the struggle against the pernicious influence of neoliberal theories and policies form the core of this chapter. The threats of neoliberalism to society in general and specific communities are described and analysed, as are collective responses based on affective intelligence – the transformation of emotion into action. Examples of worldwide social activism are provided, and the ideas of the political and social theorists Hannah Arendt and Jean Paul Sartre are considered as a foundation for reflective social activity. The latter’s belief, expressed in his book Critique of Dialectical Reason, that group action through the “formal group” is a more effective way of combatting authoritarian social structures than a traditional reliance by activists on the awakening of working-class consciousness, is highlighted.

In: Educating for Action