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Racism and the Collapsing Society, Barbara Love and Tim Jackins, June 7, 2020

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Teaching How to Teach RC

We can learn a lot from each other about preparing people to teach RC. Here’s what I tried two summers ago.

RCers in my Area already have the chance to discharge, in classes and workshops, on leadership, leading, and inviting people into RC. I decided to experiment with a class that focused specifically on teaching RC.

Wide-world teachers take classes on how to teach, how to design curricula, how to help students through expected challenges, and so on. I wanted to do that while at the same time encourage people to do their own thinking and to discharge.

I invited two people who were going to be teaching fundamentals for the first time, along with two people who were preparing to assist. (One person became the assistant for one of the new teachers; the other realized he wasn’t ready to assist yet).

We did a number of things in the ten-week class. First we discharged embarrassment. Every week we sat around (while people wished I would “start class”) and awkwardly experimented with initiating good contact with each other and/or helping each other to laugh. We also read an article by Tim Jackins on working on embarrassment and had structured sessions for discharging it. People loosened up and became much more skilled at helping others discharge embarrassment outside of structured sessions. We talked about how this relates to teaching fundamentals.

We talked about the job of “RC teacher” and “RC assistant teacher.”

We did some things we do in fundamentals classes but that we often don’t keep doing—for example, life stories, self-appreciation, “ID checks” (“Who do I remind you of?”). These were “homework” to try in regular sessions and report on in class.

We looked at the sample fundamentals outlines from the RC web site and did think-and-listens about how they wanted to structure their classes.

We had sessions and think-and-listens in which we remembered how we had learned RC, what had been helpful, what was hard, and what more would have been helpful. We also used these personal experiences to talk about the typical challenges that people new to RC face and the ways RC teachers can help.

We had regular mini-sessions and check-ins on how “recruiting” was going. (Yes, lots more was needed on this!).

The two new teachers each taught a class on a topic of their choice and got to discharge in class after.

We read parts of the Guidelines and used them to identify where people still needed to discharge. We also read some of the articles I like to use in fundamentals classes. (We needed figure out more about teaching the Guidelines and reading RC literature).

A lot of the class was based around people’s questions. No matter what else we were doing, there was always time for people to ask questions about whatever they were trying to figure out. Whoever asked the question had a chance to think with attention about what they already thought and sometimes also had a session about the issue. Other class members then shared what they thought. Finally, I’d share my thinking.

We also used our own class as a mini “case study.” I’d ask people questions about each part of the class as we did it: Why do we do news and goods? What’s the use of giving theory? Why do we give some people time in front of the group? and so on. This helped people look at practices they took for granted and think consciously about why we do them.

Margo Hittleman
Ithaca, New York, USA

Last modified: 2020-07-01 08:50:08+00