Educate to Transform!

Learn and Teach to Transform Ourselves and Our Communities

Handouts are located here:
Educate to Transform!
Teaching Rescources

Activities at Conference Workshop Summary

Workshop Chairs:  Glenn Omatsu, Ashley Honma, Kevin Machino, Matt Ichinose.

This workshop emphasizes the vision of education that has guided the work of several generations of Japanese American activists.  While others in U.S. society regard education as a commodity or a product to be acquired, Japanese American activists define education as embedded in the way we live our lives.  Thus, we see teaching and learning as not specialized activities that happen in just schools but as activities that are integral to our everyday lives and part of the life force of our community.  While others in the U.S. focus on reforming education, Japanese American activists focus on how we can learn and teach to transform both our communities and ourselves.  This alternative vision of education was first articulated by Issei activists, especially through worker centers, and has continued to be nurtured by succeeding generations of activists.  This workshop will focus on three specific themes relating to our activist legacy:

  • Education is a human right for all people
  • All people have the right to a relevant education that meets the needs of communities
  • The Japanese American activist vision of “education as transformation” needs to nurtured, propagated and shared

The following summary presents the perspective on learning-teaching that we will use in this workshop:

Mainstream Approach to Learning-Teaching

  • The goal of education is acquiring knowledge for self-advancement.
  • Thinking and doing are separate things.
  • Teaching and learning are separate things.
  • Awareness always precedes action.
  • Learning focuses on the individual learner.
  • Teaching is about changing minds.
  • Social change and personal transformation are mutually exclusive.

Japanese American Activist Approach to Learning-Teaching

  • The goal of education is transformation – transformation of ourselves and our communities.
  • Thinking and doing are intricately connected.  We simultaneously think and do, then reflect and act again.
  • Teaching and learning are part of the same process.  We cannot construct classes around course objectives without understanding how students learn.
  • Action and awareness are part of the same process, and the relationship is not one-way or linear.
  • Learning occurs for people within a web of social relationships.  If we want to increase learning outcomes for each student, we need to enhance human relationships.
  • Teaching is not only about changing minds but also hearts and souls, or in the words of Gandhi, education must be about the head, hand, and heart.
  • There can be no social change without simultaneously changing ourselves.
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