“We educate people in order to organize them. We don’t organize people in order to educate them.” — Fred Ross, Sr.
New Labor provides a number of educational programs to our members, from occupational health and safety training through our Latino Occupational Safety and Health Initiative (LOSHI), to English and computer classes.
In order to help build our members’ collective consciousness and initiate thought and discussions based on our members’ concrete experiences , all of our educational programs employ the Small Group Activity Method (SGAM), outlined below.
The Small Group Activity Method (SGAM) is a participatory problem-based training methodology that focuses on participants and the important role of peer-to-peer interaction. Peer-to-peer trainers are the key building block in these programs. These trainers are taught that their job is not to be the expert, but rather to provide every participant with the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with the rest of the class. The “expertise” of LOSHI’s educational programs is in the curriculum and the experience of the participants.
The Small Group Activity Method is based on the idea that every class is a place where learning is shared. SGAM is a structured learning procedure that allows us to share information. It is based on three learning exchanges:
- Worker to Worker
- Worker to Trainer
- Trainer to Worker
Worker to Worker: Most of us learn best from each other. SGAM is set up in a way that makes learning exchanges between participants a key element of all our classes. Solving problems in their small groups allows participants to learn from each other.
Worker to Trainer: Lecture-style training assumes that the trainer knows all the answers. On many subjects any group of workers will have as much, or more, collective knowledge as any one expert or teacher. As such, the training method shows genuine respect for workers’ knowledge, and allows participants to build confidence, a key component of adult learning. This occurs during the report-back.
Trainer to Worker: This is the traditional learning procedure in school and comes at the end of each activity. This serves as a chance to clear up confusion and make the important points of the class.