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Swingshift college popular education 2003 signed5

  1. 1. -, Swingshift College: Popular Education? by Mike Olszanski L580 Term Paper April 7, 2003
  2. 2. "A way ofteaching is never innocent. Every Pedagogy is implicated in ideology, in a set oftactic assumptions about what is real, what is good, what is possible, and how power ought to be distributed. " (Linkon, 153 from Berlin, James, "Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class," College English 50, No.5 Sept. 1988, pp. 492, 479.)
  3. 3. Olszanski 1 L580 Term Paper Thesis Swingshift College, a program for adult workers initiated 10 years ago by Dr. Ruth Needleman at Indiana University Northwest, was inspired by the work ofPaulo Freire, Miles Horton, Canadian popular educators and others. What are its mission and goals, and how well does it meet those goals? To what extent can the popular education paradigm be adapted for use in a college-credit program? What kind of conflicts arise from the competing interests ofpop ed and the university? How do these conflicts get resolved? What about grades? Is Swingshift College a special case, or can worker education generally successfully implement this kind of program? This paper will explore these questions in the light ofpopular education theory and my own experience as a student and staffassistant in Swingshift College for the past 5 years, as well as interviews with present students and graduates ofthe program. The Mission First and foremost, for Needleman, education for workers needs to be anything but neutral. She makes it crystal clear that Swingshift College, like the Labor Studies program she has been involved with for some 30 years, aims to educate workers in order to empower and enable them to build their own movement. Needleman aims to build a "community" ofworker intellectuals, worker advocates and worker activists. She aims to "get people into action." (Needleman, 3/25/03)
  4. 4. Olszanski 2 L580 Term Paper Co-existent with that goal, according to its mission statement, Swingshift College strives to "encourage workers to make a commitment to life-long learning." and to "provide college curriculum that meets the highest standards ofquality" (Appendix A). Swingshift provides the opportunity to earn Associate and Bachelors degrees in both Labor Studies and General Studies. In order to make available courses needed by students to meet the requirements ofthese degree programs, Swingshift College offers a wide range math, science and social science classes, in addition to the Labor Studies classes around which the core ofthe program was developed. Begun by Needleman ofiUN Labor Studies, in conjunction with John Myers, coordinator ofthe USWA Bethlehem learning Center in 1993 with a one credit L290 offering, "Steel at the CrossRoads", Swingshift College has been directed by Cathy Iovanella since 1996. Aimed initially at Steelworkers, Swingshift would help them to take advantage of the education benefit negotiated by the USWA in their 1988 contracts with USX, Bethlehem, Inland , LTV and National/Midwest. The educational benefits for steelworkers are administered by a national office, the Institute for Career Development (ICD) established by the USWA and located in Merrillville, Indiana. The infusion ofdollars to pay tuition and books for "sponsored" steelworkers went a long way toward making Swingshift a paying proposition for IUN. Based in the Continuing Studies department, Swingshift is a "customized college program" employing techniques aimed at motivating workers to take an active, pro-worker role in their unions and community. (Needleman, 1995, page 1) In August, 1994 a Gary Post
  5. 5. Olszanski 3 L580 Term Paper Tribune editorial lauded Swingshift college as part ofa new "vision for education" (Post, August 24, 1994). It enjoyed great deal ofsupport (now somewhat waning) from then-Chancellor Richards. But from the beginning, Needleman acknowledged its reliance on the support ofworkers and their organizations and institutions in order for Swingshift to grow and prosper. "Swingshift ollege will only succeed, ifwe succeed in building a full partnership. The program must belong to the local joint committees, the lCD, the students, IUN and the faculty and staff." (Needleman, 1995, page 3) Total enrollments went from 89 in Fall of 19194 to a peak of320 in Fall of 1997. (See Appendix A, Swingshift College Mission Statement) Theory Popular education has its roots in the theory ofAntonio Gramsci, as adopted and expanded upon by Paulo Freire, Myles Horton and others. In the 1920's, writing from Mussolini's prison Gramsci, leader ofthe Italian Communist Party (PCI) elaborated a theory ofclass hegemony-"the ideological predominance of bourgeois values and norms over the subordinate classes"-that built on the ideas ofMarx, Engels, Lenin and others (See appendix C, also see Olszanski, Mid-Term paper, L580). Gramsci's theory emphasized the powerful role played by culture and education in rationalizing, legitimizing and popularizing the status quo. In addition to the coercive power ofthe state, Gramsci insisted that a popular consensus was an essential element ofhegemony. He describes a process of "covert indoctrination" through which capitalist institutions maintain this popular consensus. Gramsci saw this hegemony as so ingrained in a society
  6. 6. Olszanski 4 L580 Term Paper that it was accepted by a majority ofthe population as "common sense" or "the only way of running a society." ( http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-gram.htm page 4) Counter-posed to this bourgeois state hegemony, Gramsci envisioned the creation ofa working-class "counter-hegemony" through the development ofmass organizations, working-class culture, and working- class institutions, particularly schools. Adult education was seen as an important element in a "war ofposition" against this political, economic, cultural and especially intellectual hegemony ofthe capitalist state (Mayo, 2). Overcoming this "popular consensus" in favor ofthe ruling ideology of capitalism demanded the education ofthe working class, and the development of"organic" intellectuals from and firmly planted on the side ofthe working class. The aim was not just raising consciousness, but transforming it, and building a new socialist consciousness and a new popular consensus (Mayo, 5). Likewise, beyond merely seeking structural change, developing the new ideological counter -hegemony was necessary to win the hearts and minds ofthe populace. The purpose ofcounter- hegemonic culture and institutions would be to facilitate resistance to and :finally encircle and overcome the existing main-stream capitalist institutions (Altenbaugh, 6). Thus, Gramsci saw worker education as part ofa process of "growing" "organic" working-class intellectuals, who would form a cadre in the creation of centers ofcounter-hegemony, to battle capitalists and their institutions for the hearts and minds ofthe general public. Gramsci also looked to praxis (revolutionary action) as a way to confront and overcome bourgeois hegemony and simultaneously build the new popular consensus:
  7. 7. Olszanski 5 L580 Term Paper " ...ideologies are expressions ofthe structure and are modified by modifications ofthe structure" (Gramsci, 442). Identifying the epistemological significance ofthe principle ofhegemony was, according to Gramsci, Lenin's great contribution to Marxism (Gramsci, 365). Gramsci saw the "philosophy ofpraxis" as one ofthe three "unities" in the constituent elements ofMarxist theory ("man & matter") i.e., "the relationship between human will (superstructure) and economic structure" (Gramsci, 403). Gramsci acknowledges Marx and Engles as "founders of the Philosophy ofPraxis" ( 415-416). Indeed, Gramsci's translators clearly indicate that in the code used to fool the prison censors, by "the Philosophy of Praxis" and "modem theory" he actually meant Marxist theory (404-407). Paulo Freire, a radical Brazilian educator attempting to bring empowerment through literacy and consciousness-raising to the lower classes in his country, adopted and built on some ofthis theory. Miles Horton, who established the Highlander Folk School to educate and mobilize Appalachian people, discovered similar ideas in the process oflearning how to educate poor adults. Before the Russian Revolution, Finnish Wobblies founded Work People's College in Duluth, Minnesota to teach syndicalism and industrial democracy. In the 1930's Brookwook Labor College in New York, Commonwealth in Arkansas and the Bryn Mawr School for Women Workers also used these kinds oftechniques. More recently, popular educators in the U.S. and Canada have adopted, extended and refined these ideas, developing a unique pedagogy aimed as much at consciousness- raising and movement-building as it is at helping workers acquire skills. In Canada, Bev Burke, Jojo Geronimo, D'Arcy Martin, Barb Thomas and Carol Wall's recently published Education for Changing Unions illustrates
  8. 8. Olszanski 6 L580 Term Paper popular education with a "spiral model" ofteaching/learning, which begins with and builds on what workers already know, identifies patterns, analyzes knowledge in light of working class interests, adds new knowledge and expertise, and leads to a plan for action (Appendix B). Radical black feminist Bell Hooks, in her Teaching to Transgress, describes how the very same theory can be applied in a University setting, as in classes she teaches at City College in New York. We are thus the beneficiaries ofa hundred years oftheory and practice in popular education. Acknowledging this debt to previous thinkers, as well as students, Hooks says (62) " ...the production of...theory is complex...it is an individual process less often than we think and usually emerges from engagement with collective sources." While Hooks is specifically speaking offeminist theory here, her remarks are equally applicable to the origins of popular education theory as well. The Program More than simply running classes morning and evening, the program aims to eliminate red-tape and hassles, easing the transition ofworkers to college. It provides tutoring, writing seminars and advice and special counseling. At the same time, it endeavors to build working class consciousness, worker solidarity and "counter hegemony" in the classroom, even when supervisors and management-oriented students are in it. Counseling and registration are handled by Swingshift staff. A prospective student need merely telephone, email or visit the Swingshift office, indicate the classes she wants to take, and the rest is done by the staff. Even textbooks are ordered and brought to
  9. 9. Olszanski 7 L580 Term Paper class for the sponsored students (steelworkers whose tuition and books are paid for by ICD). Swingshi:ft removes most ofthe obstacles, thus freeing the working student to apply herselfto learning. Classes are videotaped, so that attendance-so difficult at times for already overburdened shift workers, who are required by their employers at times to work "double" shifts-is not so critical. In fact, it is an established principle that attendance not be considered in grading. Likewise, students are neither graded lower nor berated for arriving late for class. It is assumed that adults, attending classes they choose for themselves, are neither late nor absent without good reason. Instructors employ various methods to ensure that students who miss classes are kept up to speed. Generally these amount to a requirement to check out and view the video, and submit a short paper on what was covered in the missed session. According to a description ofSwingshift College written by Needleman, Swingshift College through its customizedformat and emphasis on labor studies has combined different traditions ofworker education from both the extension as well as credit models. The format creates a collective, on-going cohort ofstudents whose education is integrated, experienced-based and worker-friendly. With support systems, Swingshift has enabled workers at different levels of academic preparation to enter together. Early on, peer mentors were also employed to "facilitate collective learning through inter-dependence" (Needleman)
  10. 10. Olszanski 8 L580 Term Paper The Praxis of Needleman Praxis is the application oftheory to practice. So what does the practice ofpopular education, and counter-hegemony, mean in the classroom? How does it transform the classroom, the students and the teacher? Or, as Needleman would put it, "That's talkin' the talk. What about walkin' the talk?" How and where does the rubber meet the road? Needleman's own classroom illustrates the most successful attempt to integrate counter-hegemonic theory and practice with university undergraduate, and recently, graduate level education here at Indiana University, and perhaps in the nation. Beginning, in the tradition ofFreire, Horton, and contemporary Canadian popular educators with the knowledge already possessed by adult students who may be union activists or officers, Needleman utilizes the "Spiral method" illustrated in appendix B . Needleman, like Hooks, "employ[s] pedagogical strategies that create ruptures in the established order, that promote modes of learning which challenge bourgeois hegemony" (Hooks, 185). Needleman's Labor Studies classroom is a good place to view the theory ofpopular education in action or "praxis". As a student in her classes, I have been able to view her technique from a unique perspective. While constrained by the demands of the University in terms ofgrades, curriculum, time-tables, etc., Needleman closely approximates popular education in college credit courses, including a new one at the graduate level. Needleman has won more teaching awards than anyone on the IUN campus. She takes more pride in her working-class roots than her Harvard degree.
  11. 11. Olszanski 9 L580 Term Paper Her classroom-our classroom-she would call it, is a space created to enable trade unionists, working class intellectuals and ordinary people of every race, background and gender to share, compare, explore, and analyze our experiences in the light ofany and all theory we find useful. More often than not, the classroom is "offcampus" at one ofthe USWA/Company "Learning Centers" near the !SPAT/Inland, Bethlehem, or Midwest/National steel mills. The location is "convenient" for workers, but also less threatening for someone taking a first step into college. It is also less constraining than the usual campus classroom-more adaptable to "in the round" seating, for example. Here, in a "safe house" ofbrothers and sisters, guided, facilitated but not dominated by an expert in the use ofanalysis, we students begin with our own experiences, and with what we have already learned from that experience. Here Needleman " ...build(s] on people's own experience; it is the basis for their [our] learning" (Horton, 137). Here we are challenged to use new tools to understand the social causes ofwhat many ofus-isolated and alienated as we were- had assumed were our personal problems. 1 Quickly we find common interests, and come to understand how those vital commonalities far outweigh our differences, confronted as we are by the hegemonic system ofcapitalism. We discover the basic conflict between the owning class and the working class. We find ourselves uncovering the truth ofour own identities as members ofthe largest, and potentially most politically powerful class in history. 1 Professor ofSociology in the Swingshift Program Chuck Gallmeier uses a theory ofC. Wright Mills- "The Sociologicallmagination"·-to define this new consciousness.
  12. 12. Olszanski 10 L580 Term Paper In this space we are permitted, indeed encouraged to use all the tools we can fmd from the teaching ofJesus and Shelley, as Myles Horton would have it, to the class analysis ofMarx in our struggle to understand the forces which oppress, repress and exploit us. Left-wing theory is given respect and weight rather than dismissed as "dangerous" or "discredited" or "passe." This enacts a kind ofacademic freedom often espoused but seldom found in practice on U.S. campuses. "When you want to build a democratic society, you have to act democratically in every way" (Horton, 227). Needleman's method ofteaching is perhaps the most democratic one is likely to find in a university setting. In the tradition ofHorton, the jargon or "big words" ofpopular education, terms like "praxis" "hegemony" etc., are defined-then promptly set aside in favor ofless formal, more familiar words. The emphasis is on understanding. As Horton puts it, "Ifthey don't understand the process, they may be able to go back and mouth it, but they can't live it" (137). One seldom leaves Needleman's class without a clear explanation ofthe concepts in question. Counter-hegemony, in our classroom, means a space where we students empower ourselves through collective analysis to debunk the powerful myths projected by the institutions ofcapital. It's a space where we realize in the process how collective action, e.g., through a progressive and militant labor movement, women's movement, peace movement, civil rights movement, poor people' s movement, can be our vehicle to do something about our situation: to fight back. Counter-hegemony for us is an organizing principle that enables us to collectively throw the hard light ofscientific analysis on the myths and contradictions ofthe system that engulfs us- to
  13. 13. Olszanski 11 L580 Term Paper understand the system but also to gather the strength in protected spaces to begin the process ofchanging it. The epistemology happening here is the exact antithesis ofthat employed by the old "banking system" of conventional university educators (Hooks, 14). The courage, both intellectual and physical, ofour facilitator (leader, in the best sense ofthe term) is contagious. Freed ofthe oppressive, limiting, stifling, hegemonic intimidation and thought-controlled milieu of bourgeois culture, media and the educational system, we explore subversive ideas which transform us, and empower us to transform society. As the desirability-no the desperate need-for social change becomes obvious and logical analysis dispels the mythology which had clouded our thinking, the means to effect that change begin to present themselves. Here we go beyond mere "consciousness-raising"-to action. Within this counter-hegemonic space (the word enclave springs to mind) the early adjournment ofa class session in order to join a picket line is recognized as a practically seamless transition from theory to practice, from analysis to action. Here, as Hooks puts it, "no gap exists between theory and practice...one enables the other" (61). The process oflearning engendered by popular education enables, nurtures, develops us as "organic" intellectuals, in a sense a "cadre" ofclass conscious leaders committed to social change, and clearly conscious of which side we are on. This is a program where "people [leaders]...multiply themselves" (Horton, 57). Bonds ofnewly discovered brotherhood and sisterhood that extend beyond the boundaries ofthe classroom are created and strengthened. As we pick apart the racist, sexist, anti-working class ideas which contaminate our larger society, we strengthen those bonds.
  14. 14. Olszanski 12 L580 Term Paper Whether we celebrate a happy event, mourn a loss, win a strike, ride the bus to march on Washington, or just have a beer, a new circle offriends and allies (dare we say comrades) has been created, based on a collective understanding ofthe struggle we share. That, in the classroom ofpopular educator Ruth Needleman, is what counter-hegemony in action looks like. The fact is, the ideas ofFreire, Horton, Hooks and popular educators from all times and places come to life in her classroom. Their (and her) ideas, clearly subversive in the very best sense ofthe word, can enable the oppressed peoples ofthe world, and specifically ofthis country, to grow our own intellectuals and leaders, to organize to resist, fight back, and finally, prevail. Grades The plethora ofideas in the literature (I've only scratched the surface with an internet search for sources) on methods ofevaluating student performance in college class work include both radical and conservative approaches. Totally ungraded systems or pass/fail grading which briefly enjoyed a measure ofpopularity with radical educators after the 1960's, seem to have largely faded from the scene. The conventional grade systems in use at IU and most other universities need little explanation. The University ofIllinois, in its guide for instructors, recognizes the "distributive gap method, grading on the curve, percent grading, a relative grading method using group comparisons and an absolute standard grading method" "Group assessment & personal evaluation" and "peer and self-evaluation" are in use in England, among other places. Many educators are uncomfortable with grading systems that feign objectivity, whether "criterion referenced" or "norm-referenced" (ERIC).
  15. 15. Olszanski 13 L580 Term Paper Needleman appears to have adopted a system roughly similar to that (briefly) described by Hooks (157): "I try to communicate that the grade is something they [the students] can control by their labor in the classroom." In her own words, Needleman tends to give mostly "A's B's and Incompletes." Students are encouraged to refme, re-work and re-submit required work in order to get the grade we want, encouraging persistent effort in order to improve the quality ofour writing, and analysis. Most importantly, students seldom work on a project alone. Stressing the building ofcommunity, Group learning is employed wherever possible, encouraging students to cooperate and work collectively to solve problems. Many in academia decry the "grade inflation" supposedly rampant in universities these days (Bush Jr's college grades are suspect). A 1995 study found "only 10-20% ofstudents receive grades lower than B-" (ERIC). Professors are under pressure from students and parents who demand good grades as a quidpro quo for the high dollar costs ofa college education. Needleman's grading system is anything but grade inflation. Her use of Incompletes is similar to the use ofthe "R" in graduate courses ofthe IU School ofEducation. Assigned in "thesis and dissertation courses, internship courses, and...other selected courses where work is expected to take longer than one year to complete," the "R" indicates a deferred grade (http://www.indiana.edu/-educate/grdpolicy.html ). This use ofthe "I" (IU does not allow the use of"R" for undergraduate courses) can remove the time pressure, the pressure ofcompetition, the fear offailure, as well as allow for multiple revisions ofa paper. By allowing or even encouraging students to resubmit a paper multiple times until they have achieved the fmal grade they want, this employment ofthe "Incomplete" looks a bit like "Mastery
  16. 16. Olszanski 14 L580 Term Paper Learning" as advocated by educator Benjamin Bloom (Appendix B). It empowers students, and encourages a great deal more thought and work than might take place iftime were ofthe essence in submitting the work. Yet, as Needleman herselfinsists, there is an important difference: Ruth's approach focuses less on the individual, more on collective or group learning. She does agree with Bloom, however, in placing responsibility for students' success on the teacher: "Bad grades mean the teacher failed" (Needleman, class 3/11/03). Incompletes might also be viewed as a kind of"safety valve," allowing for a face-saving, non-embarrassing exit from academic studies- whether merely temporary or permanent-for those who can't, or aren't yet ready to commit the time and effort necessary to "make the grade" at a certain point in their lives, without being labeled with the stigma of "failure." Critics ofa "personal best" conception ofevaluation can and do argue that it is not fair to award the same "A" grade to one whose achievement required extra time, even though tremendous personal growth and work was involved. One who's previous educational experience or "ability" enables her to master the course's subject matter more completely, in less time and with less effort tends to get the better grade in conventional classes. Evaluations which weigh more heavily the content ofstudent papers and verbal presentations, rather than the quality ofwriting or speaking do not abound in the thinking ofmost conventionally oriented academics. Once again for Ruth, the quality of analysis and thought are always placed ahead ofmechanical writing and/or verbal communication skills. "you don't write well?" she says, "Ifit's not a writing course, it shouldn't matter" (Needleman, Class, 3/11/03). In fairness, Needleman does not teach basic skills competencies like composition, speech or math, but her copious
  17. 17. Olszanski 15 L580 Term Paper feedback on papers and presentations does in fact help students hone these skills. In assessing student achievement, she urges students to ask themselves, "Have I learned things I can apply?" and "Have I applied the things I've learned?" (Class, 3/11/03) Needleman's grading system is somewhat unique and different from that employed by other professors ofLabor Studies or those who teach Sociology, Anthropology, History or other subjects for Swingshift College. In fact there is no standard grading system used by our teachers. There is at present no consensus--even between Swingshift Coordinator Iovanella and Needleman-on precisely how to evaluate student performance. Iovanella has expressed concerns for maintaining a degree of rigor, and standards, in order to equip students for future challenges. In addition, while most Swingshift instructors conform to the ideal of NOT using attendance as any part oftheir grading system, in all other criteria they vary greatly in their approaches to this difficult issue. The democratic, non- hierarchical methods employed in the classroom are clearly in evidence in Needleman's and Iovanellas's approach to the faculty as well. Therefore, faculty are in no way compelled to conform to any standard ofgrading. Thus a student in the Swingshift College program would, in completing the requirements needed for a certificate or degree, necessarily be exposed to instructors whose methods ofevaluating her varied quite a lot. Students' overall GPA then, could hardly be said to reflect merely Needleman's measure oftheir achievement. The success rate of Swingshift College students-in conventional classes as well as Needleman's-suggests that another factor is at work here. It seems to me that, whether because ofhigh levels ofmotivation, an accumulation ofknowledge that comes with
  18. 18. Olszanski 16 L580 Term Paper expenence, and/or other unseen qualities, Swingshift's adult learners simply do better than their traditional (generally younger) counterparts. The disproportionately high percentage ofhonors graduates and high GPA's among Swingshift students bears this out. As Needleman puts it, "I couldn't have gotten away with it [her grading system] ifit didn't work" (Class, 3/11/03). Conflicts: College Credit V. Movement Building Is Swingshift's primary mission to build movements? Or to enable workers to get College Degrees? Can we do movement-building in a university setting? Does the administration ofthe university want us to? In the face of administrators whose expressed preference is to build coalitions with business interests, and a University faculty many ofwhom assign worker and adult education ofany kind a low priority, building Swingshift College has been at best an up-hill battle. The handful of professors who teach in Labor Studies and Swingshift College classes are clearly some ofthe most visionary teachers I've had the pleasure of knowing. Several have bee recognized with teaching awards. But there is anything but unanimity concerning pedagogy. The sacrifices involved, including working double shifts on class days, submitting to student participation in the design oflesson plans, student midterm evaluations which make demands on teachers in terms ofrapid feedback, justification of reading and writing assignments, questioning oftesting and grading methods-all these demand a special kind ofteacher, willing to sacrifice
  19. 19. Olszanski 17 L580 Term Paper total authority in order to achieve a deeper learning experience. We are fortunate to have a number ofsuch teachers in the program. What has yet to be achieved is full consensus on goals and methods. More needs to be done, in my opinion, to clearly define our mission and priorities, and achieve better collective understanding of, agreement on and commitment to the methods needed to accomplish that mission. Laying claim to a degree ofsuccess for her vision, Needleman says, The networks among students and teachers have created a community that transcends the classroom, so that the learning process extends to union and community events and brings those events into the classroom for reflection and more learning. In fact, organizations separatefrom Swingshift have benefited directly through the contributions ofstudents, both on the level ofanalysis as well as activism. This is demonstrably true. As a participant, graduate and observer of Swingshift classes over a five year period, I have witnessed tremendous personal growth, attitudinal change, and increased consciousness in myself and many students. Yet when interviewed, a number ofgraduates emphasized the role of Swingshift College as a vehicle enabling students to achieve personal academic success and college diplomas, and only secondarily as "creating community" or "building a movement." One in particular stated he always knew he was intelligent, but others did not take him seriously, treating him "like a dumb steelworker'' until he got his degree. This desire to secure recognition oftheir intellect and sagacity, in the form ofa college degree, was echoed by a number ofstudent interviewees. Some spoke ofan "interest in learning" for learning sake. Most took classes to learn or enhance specific skills, like grievance handling, and found them
  20. 20. Olszanski 18 L580 Term Paper effective. One took classes "because they sounded interesting" and surprised herselfas her credits began to add up to an Associate's and later a Bachelor's degree. One (already a Union rep and activist) said "I got into to the program...because I wanted to do other things after I get out ofthe milL" This desire to retrain in order to prepare for new careers after retirement (or in case ofjob loss) was also a common theme.(Interviews). On the other hand, a 1999 blind survey ofBethlehem students by university ofIllinois Professor Robert Bruno found that while most reported "increased job satisfaction" and learning "useful vocational skills," 86.6% ofrespondents either agreed or did not disagree that their participation in ICD classes "increased awareness of[the] union role in bargaining benefits" Another 79.7o/o agreed or did not disagree that classes "increased my involvement in union matters" and 87.2o/o agreed or did not disagree that classes "increased my support for the union's efforts and goals." Most also would make continued contractual support for ICD programs a high priority in negotiations. It should be noted that only a fraction ofthe ICD students surveyed took Swingshift Classes, some taking only non-university skills classes ofvarious kinds. In spite ofthis Bruno notes, a strong and positive overall "union eftect" is in evidence in the survey results (Bruno, 26,27).
  21. 21. Olszanski 19 L580 Term Paper Funding and Support The General Studies division under Bob Lovely had assumed the major fmancial responsibility for Swingshift College, but budget constraints there have forced us to return to the Department ofLabor Studies for money. The constant struggle for funding by Swingshift advocates over the years reflects both the low priority assigned to worker education by the University administration here and in Bloomington and the general cut- backs in educational programs being experienced nation-wide. Swingshift staffroutinely bring office and video equipment and supplies from home, or "borrow" it from other departments. An illustrative anecdote is one I am personally fond ofrepeating concerning how we finally got our office printer replaced, after over a year without one, by appealing to the advisory committee. For a number ofmonths, any printing that needed to be done for Swingshift was sent from the second to the first floor to be done on a Labor Studies printer. This found one ofthe two ofus in the office constantly running up and down the stairs, only to find, as often as not, that a computer glitch had prevented the job being transmitted to the printer. I will admit I weighed twenty pounds less during those months. What I had hoped was to embarrass someone in the administration into finding the needed $150 out of a desire to silence my constant whining, ifnot for the recognition ofthe absurdity ofthe situation. This tactic failed completely. Instead, a steelworker student and advisory board member finally donated a printer. We were very grateful.
  22. 22. Olszanski 20 L580 Term Paper The so-called "Shared Vision" program initiated by Chancellor Bergland seems to have no real place in it for Swingshift College, even though on balance, we have demonstrated that fiscally as well as educationally, the program contributes more to the campus than it costs. Since the reason for the low priority we suffer can hardly be financial, I can only assume that it is politicaL Red-Baiting Nearly every semester, word gets back to Needleman that a student or associate ofa student or local union officer or someone has commented negatively (always behind the backs ofthe faculty and staff) on the leftward slant ofLabor Studies classes offered through Swingshift College. Is this symptomatic of a larger, more insidious bias against the program, fueled by latent anti-communism? The inevitable involvement of Swingshift College with Local, District and International leadership ofthe USWA as well as management of the steel companies, means that the rabid anti- communism infecting some ofthese officials in the past has reflected itself in conflict with much ofthe mission expressed by Needleman and others in the program. It should come as no surprise that many ofthese former cold warriors find the theories ofMyles Horton, Paulo Freire, and certainly those ofGramsci "socialistic" or "communistic." Pleasantly surprising is how far a frank discussion ofthe principles ofworker education, the inherent conflict between labor and management, and the need for solidarity within the labor movement that Swingshift College attempts to employ can dispel myths and paranoia among reasonably open-minded students.
  23. 23. Olszanski 21 L580 Term Paper Most Labor Studies classes, especially those Ruth teaches, address the political philosophy ofunions, and the importance ofthe difference between "business unionism" and "social unionism." A class I took on the history of the CIO explored the role ofCommunists and other leftists in building the movement, as well as some ofthe deleterious effects ofthe purges ofthe 40's and 50's on the labor movement. Specific references to the destructive effects ofanti-communism-like racism, sexism and nationalism--on the solidarity ofthe labor movement, along with the general identification ofthe two sides as labor v. capital (and by implication our opponents as the capitalists not the communists) are educational antidotes to the toxin ofred- baiting. Several long-time students have testified in class to their changed ideas concerning the left, anti-communism, re-baiting, and business v. social unionism. It is possible to see real political growth among some ofthese students. On the other hand, a recent incident reminds one that old habits die hard. Union elections often bring out the competitive side ofthose involved, and red-baiting is a "cheap shot" which is all too easy to take at an opponent. A top student, one I was convinced had developed a thorough understanding ofeverything popular education is trying to build, has been red-baiting a union brother wh'O is an opponent in the up-coming election. This kind of thing makes it hard to trust the effectiveness ofpopular education in overcoming lon:g held biases and misconceptions--especially ofthe political variety
  24. 24. Olszanski 22 L580 Term Paper The Future As Swingshift College struggles for survival, continued funding and expansion, as well as recognition, the future is in doubt. Now in its tenth year, Swingshift has long since successfully completed its pilot-project phase, and is straining to grow. It needs additional staff, faculty and students to expand. If it does not expand soon, and begin to fulfill its larger potential at Indiana University, it will either wither and die, or continue to soldier on for a time at far less than potential effectiveness. Financial support in terms ofiCD money for books and tuition is waning, and further cuts are possible. Steelworkers at some area mills are going on new twelve hour per day shifts, which will require a different kind ofclass schedule to meet their needs. With the possible exception of medium level administration "friends" in Continuing Studies and Labor Studies, University support has been little and late. But perhaps it is unrealistic to expect the kind ofsupport needed from the university, which at bottom is an institution ofcapitalist hegemony. Accepting the Gramscian concept of "civil society as a site for struggle" the university is viewed as a "rampart ofthe state" which popular educators should recognize as an opponent in a "war ofposition." The task then, for proponents ofworker education, becomes one of"infiltration, persuasion, provoking and managing change, subversion even." (Spencer, 166) It has been suggested that what has been achieved at Swingshift College might serve as a model for educational programs throughout the country. Certainly there is much here that advocates ofworker education can
  25. 25. Olszanski 23 L580 Term Paper learn from and adopt. But without the active support ofthe working class itself: through its unions or other collective institutions, it is unlikely that those few educators seeking to adopt popular education techniques within the university would be able to secure the necessary funding and other requirements to duplicate or emulate a Swingshift College program. And here we come to the crux ofthe problem. Labor's own institutions have shown a reluctance, even under newer more "progressive" leadership, to coalesce with the left in order to build a united front in the struggle against capital. In addition to ideology, parochialism interferes with any union collaboration with academia. The AFL's own George Meany Center, for example, offers degree programs which tend to compete, rather than cooperate with, efforts like Swingshift College. Unlike the left-wing unions ofthe old CIO, or those still extant in Europe, Canada and Australia, most AFL-CIO unions are still at best uncomfortable dealing with ideology. For example, having been burned by their involvement with "partnerships" with management, U.S. unions like the USWA now train their representatives- not to avoid partnerships-but how to survive them hopefully without giving up too much. Some, like Charlie Richardson, still insist that local unions can outsmart their management counterparts in a partnership, thus turning it to the advantage of the union. The fable ofthe cowboy and the snake seems not to have gotten through to some union educators as yet. A refreshing exception is the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers Union (UE) which took a strong stand in opposition to any cooperation with management in so-called "partnership" agreements at the
  26. 26. Olszanski 24 L580 Term Paper outset in the early 1980's. Today UE maintains a class-conscious opposition to "Management Schemes." Through its website it warns its members in "What Does Management REALLY Want?" that the basic conflict between the interests ofcapital and those oflabor is still alive and well in our so-called "post-industrial" society: In the case of ''for profit" employers it is always safest to assume that management wants to increase profits. [ThisJ... usually involves having workers work harder andproducing more with fewer people. So-called "non-profit" employer, on the other hand want "fewer employees doing more work." "Partnerships, Quality Circles, Team Concept and Kaizen" try to get workers to "think like a boss" and find "ideas on how to cut other workers, speed up production and ways to do more work." These schemes "undermine the union," according to UE. ( http://www.ranknf-..le-ue.org/stwd mgtsch.html) Unfortunately, most AFL-CIO unions tend to ignore basic class theory, philosophy or political theory, choosing to focus on skills training- training stewards and union reps to handle grievance, bargain contracts etc. Even the new concentration on organizing lacks a serious political component- unless by political you mean U.S.-style electoral politics. In addition to a natural desire to closely control the education oftheir own members, a distrust ofand rivalry with left wing educators divides "Labor's own" program from other worker-education programs like Swingshift. Remnants ofthe old cold war anti-communist (and usually also anti-left)
  27. 27. Olszanski 25 L580 Term Paper element continue to hold considerable sway over most union education programs. Red-baiting, although now more often done covertly, continues to divide and weaken the labor movement and any coalitions it might build with other social movements. Until the labor movement itselfis thoroughly revitalized, democratized, and rebuilt from below, the prospects for a new left-labor coalition, and with it the expansion ofpopular education programs like Swingshift College, remain an unfulfilled dreaiiL
  28. 28. Bibliography Works Cited Altenbaugh, Richard J. Educationfor Struggle, The American Labor Colleges ofthe 1920's and 1930's. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990. Arnold, Rick, et al., Educatingfor a Change. Toronto: Between the Lines, 1991. Bruno, Robert, A Steelworker Vision ofLifelong Learning: Evaluating Career Development at Burns Harbor: Institute for career Development 1999 Participant Survey. ERIC: Citations for Grading in Higher Education. http://ericae.net/fags/grading!ERICbib higher.htm Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy ofthe Oppressed. New York: Seabury Press. 1970. Glen, John M., Highlander, No Ordinary School, 1932-1962. Lexington, KY: The University Press ofKentucky, 1988. Gramsci, Antonio. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. New York: International Publishers, 1971. Hooks, Bell. Teaching to Transgress. New York: Routledge, 1994. Horton, Aimee Isgrig. The Highlander Folk School, A History ofits Major Programs, 1932-1961. Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing, Inc., 1989 Horton, Myles. The Long Haul, an Autobiography. New York: Teacher's College Press, 1998. Horton, Myles and Freire, Paulo. We Make the Road by Walking. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990. Iovanella, Cathy, Interview by Mike Olszanski, April2, 2003. Mayo, Peter. "The Turn to Gramsci in Adult Education: A Review" International Gramsci Newsletter Number 4 (April, 1995): 2-9.
  29. 29. Needleman, Ruth. Class, IA80/L580 Spring, 2003. Needleman, Ruth. Report to the Advisory Board [Swingshift College] October 12, 1995 Spencer, Bruce, ed. Unions and Learning in a Global Economy. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 2002. Taylor, Jeffery. Union Learning: Canadian Labour Education in the Twentieth Century. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 2001. Interviews ofSwingshift College Alumni by Mike Olszanski: Ray Jackson, Pat Lane, Craig Johnson, John Moberg, Pete Fuller. July 26, 2002
  30. 30. Appendix A Swingshift College Mission Statement • To provide an exciting and challenging educational experience for adult learners • To provide college programs based on an appreciation for the unique life and wort:? experience of each steelworl:?er or adult Ieamer. • To offer relevant courses to women at convenient times and locations. • To provide opportunities for worl:?ers to build confidence in themselves and in their abilities. • To provide college curriculum that meets the highest standards of quality. • To provide a support system for participating worl:?ers which will ensure a high level of success and positive learning experience. • To enable worl:?ers to play leadership roles in their worl:?places, organizations, and communities. • To encourage womers to mal:?e a commitment to life-long learning.
  31. 31. Appendix B c-hdi/C VVc-q_,vdl powerv ' I' J H" r·1! ' V'.;·h._:d ,[.ork-- .l . . .. , · • r J . - • , t' ...:. II .: ' ,. ... ..-·· ;-·..- ' ··t • -..: ' . ' ' . . . . r ' I . ' ,7;i· d ili f;':r~· V,/t ·I • 1 ; •c)c.-~·.1 i(~· ' I I . ( iT i :~- d·:~·
  32. 32. Olszanski L580 Term Paper Appendix C Mastery learning comes from ideas put forward by John B. Carroll and Bejamin Bloom. In 1963, educator John B Carroll introduced a new learning concept, suggesting that "student aptitudes are reflective ofan individuals learning rate". Carroll argued for a focus on the time different students need to learn the same material, rather than the old model, which stressed the ability to learn in a fixed time period. Carroll invented the "learning rate" (LR) to represent the degree oflearning. This is indicated in the formula: LR = f (time spent learning I time needed to learn) The learning rate is therefore a function ofthe time a learner has to learn to compared to the time she actually needs to learn a certain unit of information. The new theory assumes that all learners have the ability to learn any instruction given, but require different amounts oftime to learn. Using Carroll's theory, students become "fast or slow" rather than "good or bad" learners (Guskey, 1997). Two factors that affect the learning rate of an individual learner, according to Carroll, are: perseverance (ofthe Student) and opportunity (to learn). The first is controlled by the student, that is, how much time they spend on learning, the second is the time allotted to learn by the classroom, or access to materials, etc. In 1968 Bloom expanded on the idea now known as Mastery Learning. In the 1960s, he was researching individual differences as applied to learning. Bloom utilized Carroll's ideas, concluding further that it (1) aptitude couldpredict a learner's learning rate, then he believed that it should be able to set the degree oflearning expected ofa student to some level ofmasteryperformance. Then, (2) see to the instructional variables under an instructor's control, such as the opportunity to learn and the quality of the instruction. Thus, (3) the instructor should be able to ensure that each learner can attain the specified objective. In other words, Bloom argued that "given sufficient time and quality instruction, nearly all students could learn." With Mastery Learning, emphasis is placed, rather than on the "ability" of students, on the quality ofinstruction. Teachers therefore assume the responsibility for finding ways to enable all students to achieve "the same level oflearning." (Levine,l985; Bloom, 1981). (http://www.allen.warren.net/ml.htm)