I got hooked on teaching, training, and facilitation as a 19 year old undergraduate through UC Berkeley’s Democratic Education at Cal program (DeCal).  DeCal has its roots in the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s, and thousands of students continue to take student-led classes for academic credit through it each year.   I continue to love teaching that helps people learn from each other, and that draws on book learning and learning-through doing at the same time.

These days I increasingly wanting to find systematic ways to share teaching ideas, resources, and tools with other like minded people, whether they work in the classroom or in other settings.  Here’s one step I’ve taken in that direction: the  Voices from the Valley teaching tools, a collection of college-level environmental justice learning aides that I put together with the able assistance of Maggie LaRochelle.  My blog provides other opportunities for exchanging ideas.

A few of my favorite books on teaching:

  • Helping Health Workers Learn An early influence on my understanding of facilitation, teaching and training, and basically anything involving helping a group of people accomplish something.  It has a lot to offer on the politics and practicalities of popular education, even if you aren’t in the health field.
  • The Long Haul: An Autobiography About the founder of the famous Highlander Center, known for its popular education programming and role as a place of reflection and learning for early members of the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed Actually, I’ve never read this book because it is almost completely impenetrable.  Nonetheless, author Paulo Freire’s work is a touchstone for everyone interested in learning that supports people in struggles for justice.  I’ve read so much about him I feel as if I have actually read him.
  • Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking and Active Learning in the Classroom.  This was my favorite book when I took the class on “Teaching Writing” offered at my university.
  • Real Talk for Real Teachers I heard this book’s author, Rafe Equith, give a talk on this recently and look forward to reading the book itself. I find I have a lot to learn from K-12 teachers.

Perhaps you noticed a change in tone between some of the radical books on learning and teaching out in the classroom of the world, and some of the books for people teaching within the four walls of school.  I doubt, for example, that Paulo Freire and Myles Horton spent much time worrying about “classroom management,” attendance, and grading. Combining the best of popular education and traditional university teaching is a challenge, to say the least.  But it is the kind of challenge that makes teaching an enjoyable craft to work at over a lifetime.

Teaching resources by topic

Other teaching resources