Posts Tagged ‘nonviolent direct action’

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Language is powerful! (audio)

March 18, 2013

Listen to this at Talking People Podcast episode

Here is the transcript

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Language is powerful! Metaphors we live by: Argument is war

March 17, 2013

Listen to this at Talking People Podcast episode

Feminists are people who have been able to question their own conceptual system, the language they use to express it and the way they relate to their own selves and other people. We have actually noticed how our minds liberated and expanded as we realized for instance the importance of language in conditioning our understanding. On top of that, many of us have read and listened to people doing all kinds of research, more theoretical research but essential for human knowledge. Still, the value of feminist work on language is astounding. Unfortunately, most people, unaware of how their own conceptual systems are built and how language works to construct culture — mostly tradition — being unable to develop any feminist curiosity or feminist intelligence, feel entitled to despise and criticize what they are totally ignorant of.

I’m excerpting some thinking by a non-feminist around language, which offers the same rich ground of thought and action feminists offer when we analyze language. I find these ideas really interesting and they bring about the resources of feminism and nonviolent struggle, too — sources we should all be exploring to learn to build a better world.

EFL students will also find value in these ideas for improving their oral work at speaking tests and their ability to hold rational discussions. (You can read my notes on Holding Rational Discussions on the Speaking – Discussions section on talkingpeople.net). Defending a position just means explaining your reasons to say something. Not agreeing should not mean fighting and repeating the same things over and over again. Agreeing on something is not One Winning The Other Losing, but both finding some constructive joint future action. If you collaborate, if you work together in your interaction or conversation, you will all win, so to say! If you don’t, you might all lose, to keep using this kind of violent language that has made us so violent when holding discussions!

It was not violence, but collaboration that developed the best in humanity in PreThemstory!

Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff & Mark Johnson (The University of Chicago Press, 1980)

Concepts We Live By. Chapter 1. Pages 3, 4, 5 [With my underlinings and comments]

Metaphor is for most people a device of the poetic imagination … a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language. Moreover, metaphor is typically viewed as characteristic of language alone, a matter of words rather than thought or action. For this reason, most people think they can get along perfectly well without metaphor. We have found, on the contrary, that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.

The concepts that govern our thought are not just matters of the intellect. They also govern our everyday functioning, down to the most mundane details. Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities. If we are right in suggesting that our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we think, what we experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor.

But our conceptual system is not something we are normally aware of. In most of the little things we do every day, we simply think and act more or less automatically along certain lines. Just what these lines are is by no means obvious. One way to find out is by looking at language. Since communication is based on the same conceptual system that we use in thinking and acting, language is an important source of evidence for what the system is like.

Primarily on the basis of linguistic evidence, we have found that most of our ordinary conceptual system is metaphorical in nature. And we have found a way to begin to identify in detail just what the metaphors are that structure how we perceive, how we think, and what we do.

To give some idea of what it could mean for a concept to be metaphorical and for such a concept to structure an everyday activity, let us start with the concept ARGUMENT and the conceptual metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR. This metaphor is reflected in our everyday language by a wide variety of expresssions:

ARGUMENT IS WAR

[Notice how language has always used the masculine. Why was that? Women were banned from thinking and education. Traditionally, they’ve been considered unfit for rational thinking. Of course, this is not true. We should all be unfit now for exerting patriarchal reasoning and we should all be finding ways to think beyond the patriarchal frame of mind, so solidly based on violence and misogyny (considering women inferior in everything). We’re developing Empathetic Rationality, reasoning which includes love or solidarity, a concern for life, and this is kinder, wiser, and better for our living together!]

Your claims are indefensible.He attacked every weak point in my argument.His  criticisms were right on target.I demolished his argument.I’ve never won an argument with him.You disagree? OK, shoot!If you use that strategy, he’ll wipe you out.He shot down all of my arguments.

It is important to see that we do not just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguying with as an opponent. We attack his [sic] positions and defend our own. We gain and lose ground. We plan and use strategies. If we find a position indefensible, we can abandon it and take a new line of attack. Many of the things we DO in arguying are partially structured by the concept of war. Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument — attack, defend, counterattack, etc. — reflects this. It is in this sense that the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor is one that we live by in this culture; it structures the actions we perform in arguying.

Try to imagine a culture were arguments are not viewed in terms of war [but in terms of collaborating in joint thinking, or to learn, to know, to solve problems], where no one wins or loses [but everybody learns a bit more about itself, people and/or the world], where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ground [but a sense of contributing ideas for joint analyses, and contributing experience for joint reflection]. …

Chapter 3. Page 10

… in the midst of a heated argument, when we are intent on attacking our opponent’s position and defending our own, we may lose sight of the cooperative aspects of arguing. Someone who is arguing with you can be viewed as giving you his [sic] time, a valued commodity, in an effort at mutual understanding [or joint pursuing of more knowledge and wisdom, or at problem-solving]. But when we are preoccupied with the battle aspects, we often lose sight of the cooperativeaspects [& knowledge building, problem-solving].

Well, I hope that you mull over all of these ideas, because we should really improve our way of viewing and performing discussions! In the same way we should learn to stop connecting love to obligation, for the latter degrades and distorts love!

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Convocatoria Noviolencia 15M Sol

March 13, 2013

If people can attend this meeting, I’d love to know about their impressions!

Encuentro de grupos y personas sobre NOVIOLENCIA Y TRANSFORMACIÓN SOCIAL. Segunda reunión.

Domingo 17 de marzo. 18 horas. Csoa Raíces. Calle Mesón de Paredes nº 15. Metro: Tirso de Molina.

La sugerencia para el orden del día de esta segunda reunión es analizar las propuestas que se sugirieron en la anterior reunión.

  • Realizar una campaña con todos los grupos posibles sobre objeción fiscal como forma de lucha política. Coordinarnos y generalizar esta forma de lucha. (Propuesta colaborativa: http://titanpad.com/1ZcMmYWXiK)
  • Guía práctica TRANSFORMACIÓN SOCIAL MEDIANTE LOS IMPUESTOS. (Propuesta colaborativa:http://titanpad.com/ULsalMNKTF)
  • Formar una plataforma con páginas en FaceBook y Twitter. Se sugiere el nombre ALTERNATIVA NOVIOLENTA.
  • Se propone un taller sobre machismo y violencia. El mejor antídoto contra el nacismo es el feminismo.
  • Recogida de firmas entre personas de la cultura apoyando un manifiesto para que la constitución prescinda del ejército como instrumento de la defensa nacional. (Propuesta colaborativa: http://titanpad.com/A5Ozs7LLce)
  • Realizar una campaña coordinada con otros grupos contra los Gastos Militares.
  • Trabajar contra la criminalización de la protesta.
  • Trabajar la autogestión.
  • Taller de comunicación noviolenta.
  • Apoyar consultas ciudadanas incluyendo las consultas digitales por internet.

Aquí está el acta del pasada reunión: http://titanpad.com/X5l0PFTMlh

Contacta con nosotras en noviolencia15msol@gmail.com
Actas de nuestras reuniones: http://actasmadrid.tomalaplaza.net/?cat=342
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Noviolencia15msol/118537784958307, Twitter: #noviolencia15ms, N-1: https://n-1.cc/pg/groups/1408214/noviolencia-15m-sol/, Blog: http://www.noviolencia15msol.blogspot.com.es

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An Optimist’s Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson

March 13, 2013

In Redes, they’re showing today an interview with Mark Stevenson, the author of An Optimist’s Tour of the Future.

I have ordered two copies, one for the School in case people want to borrow it and one for myself. As I listen, he says some things that many people in social activism share — starting with a love to the scientific method, I mean, true research, not the kind of Science we had in the past, always used to show women’s inferiority and the like, to back up what religious leaders said of women. Still, there is something that makes me deeply sad – he totally ignores the existence of women on the planet. How can anyone explain all the positive change in the planet ignoring women’s participation? WE WOMEN ARE FUCKING CHANGING THE WORLD THROUGH NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION! We are not “helping men to do so”, we’re part of this on our own initiative! With no need of religious dogmas or political party ideologies! (meaning, in the name of human rights for all, and not in the name of God, the Fatherland, or any Political Party!)

If we had the time, we would apply a LANGUAGE NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION to the translation at Mujer Palabra! Yes, it’s been translated, and most probably by someone who had no issues wording the world for all in the masculine.

Anyway, there are things to learn from this book. And hopefully, I’ll be wrong about his men-only frame of mind! 🙂

Prueba documental – so you can see for yourselves if I’m misquoting

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On Social activism and Achievement

March 12, 2013

Today Rubén (Avanzado 2 Martes) asked me what had we achieved when I was volunteering as a pacifist in a project in a country at war. This question is complex and deserves and analysis I have no time or mind to make just now! And the answer is as complex!! It’s like a few galaxies put together!

So I’d like to hint at possible answers with an analogy: what does a teacher achieve in a school year? Do we measure their achievement in terms of number of students who pass their finals? The teaching-learning experience is like an amazing journey. Wouldn’t this kind of measurement be far too poor? The teacher-student relationship is a very particular and amazing kind of relationship, when it actually has chances of developing. Do you believe that people passing exams would mirror achievement?

Helping people pass an exam if a very small part in my work as a teacher. My work is precious, far more complex, and this does not mean I ignore “the problem” (exams), and it doesn’t mean either all I do is well done. So I cannot measure my achievement as a teacher just by thinking of how many students passed their finals. If you ask me, as a teacher, I mean, I have to say I don’t know how to measure it because teaching is a very complex activity. But I do have a guiding star — I always try to offer the best of what I’m capable of, and this does not exclude paying attention, interacting, listening, and making mistakes, for mistakes are opportunities for discovery and exploration — and therefore for unexpected learning! When the year comes to an end, as a teacher, I’m exhausted and heartbroken because all of those very rich connections you have enjoyed throughout the year end. But then, a new stage begins: the new learning that holidays bring about, and this time you’re not in charge! And next, a new exciting school year, full of people to meet, to work with!

As a social activist, the first area of my achievement is myself. I profit from all my work for society, because I dissent and give myself the chance to grow, to pursue ideals and learn to live inspired by them! And how can I measure the rest? Should I say, “In Guatemala, our work helped many people not be kidnapped by death squads, tortured and murdered, and these people in turn, worked their lives out to bring a betterment to their society.” As you can see it’s getting harder to nail down… I could also say, “In Guatemala I learned about how to work through nonviolence for the betterment of society in the face of Low Intensity Warfare.” Hard to nail down, right? I could say, “X is alive because we helped,” much more specific, but — is this a self-contained description of my (our) achievement? Is this it? No, it isn’t. There is so much more! But I simply cannot explain comprehensively!

Here there is / was my first attempt to think in terms of achievement, and as I can see, I totally failed anyway! (oh, and here is Asking Questions in Church, btw!)

In a nutshell, I am my only “achievement,” a human being in interaction with other human beings, and the struggle never ends! 🙂

AFTERTHOUGHT: Perhaps, the deep reason is that actions in social activism are not about “convincing people to follow a certain ideology”, but “helping us all to build a less violent and unfair world”!

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Two pacifist activists analyze Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

March 10, 2013

Brian is Australian (he’s written a lot on nonviolence), and Majken is Swedish but lives in Australia. She also edited CO Women, which I actually translated into Spanish, Objetoras, in case you want to get interested in Inclusive Language translations!

This article has just been published in The Broken Rifle, a newsletters by War Resisters’ International / Internacional de Resistentes a la Guerra (WRI-IRG): http://wri-irg.org/node/21369

RUMBO A GAZA

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Girls’ & women’s issues are not “side issues”

February 4, 2013

EmotionalCreaturepicWe’re over half of the population on the planet! One Billion Rising! (Mil Millones en Pie de Paz!) – Getting Ready for Feb 14! Print the poster OBR-POSTER_8.5x11pink and put it up wherever you work or study! Next week we’ll be uploading the pack we’ll use in class so you can print it for our lesson (public education has no money for copies for this, either 😦 ), which is three stories from I Am an Emotional Creature.  (Read A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sexual Slavery. Get more info here.

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Stories for Feb 14: A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery (in 2 pages)

February 3, 2013

Foto 132Here is one of the stories in I Am an Emotional Creature, inspired in girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And this is one of the stories we can read in class on Feb 13 & 14. In case you are afraid to read it, please consider this: we need to listen to the people who know about violence and are never listened to, not only to the people who tell about “the victims” (and keep in mind this book is informed by girls). The difference is clear: when you listen to people who were subject to violence, you not only learn about violence — you learn how to survive violence, and with this lesson you become more human, so to say, and you also become more aware of what to do about it all.

The minimum respect people who have always been ignored by HiStory is to listen to the direct source, and here is a 2-page story, a good chance!

A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery, 2 Word pages: LessonPlan14Feb2013

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Nonviolent Resistance (edited on the next day – in italics)

January 16, 2013

(Written with a feminist intelligence, this is, not like Gandhi or Martin Luther King would have.)

In the Avanzado 2 textbook, unit 4 is devoted to Warfare. Being a pacifist feminist, I suppose I should try to balance things a bit, posting here about nonviolent resistance, because History books, until the 20th century, like Science, and so many other areas of knowledge, have always been populated by men and wars, and men’s wars against other men. To make matters worse, they have always silenced Man’s war against women, for instance, never including in the description of casualties in war the fact that women were always raped – trophies or rubber dolls for the men that prevailed.

Humankind has been much kinder, throughout its History, but not until the 20th century did we start trying to find out evidence of this. Universities started setting up Women Studies and Peace Studies, both doing research to restore what was obliterated by men in power – kings, people with tons of money or richess, warriors, the clergy or religious reps. And then, we got the Internet, where zillions of people are leaving track of their existence, which makes it harder for manipulators to keep tricking us all. Consumerism is the new war to divert our attention from real life and real people, but it is obvious we have options, we have innumerable sources of information. We, the Jane Doe’s and the John Doe’s in/on the planet, have access to information and means of communication that allow us to travel around the world.

Nonviolent resistance is a method of social change that employs strategies such as strikes, sit-ins, boycotts and civil disobedience. In unit 4 we find some info on famous movie scenes and Spartacus is mentioned. This is an example of one of the most empowering and powerful actions human beings can undertake together without replicating the violence that tries to annihilate them. In class, I mentioned a similar example, much closer to our times: nonviolent resistance against the nazi occupation in Western Europe. People are so beautiful and powerful when they use their imagination and kindness, which is to say their intelligence, to learn to solve conflicts without generating more violence and more injustice!

Women have used nonviolent resistance constantly. But women have always been invisible in patriarchy, so they have not been acknowledged as rolemodels (and certainly not as “people who struggle”). (I don’t believe women are “natural” pacifists. The fact that women cannot use violence is part of the patriarchal rationale. I believe that if we overcome the patriarchal gender role system, we’ll develop our intelligence more, in a good way, and any kind of person will then tend to use nonviolence.)

Fortunately, the time has come when we are finally realizing that any human being is capable of using their intelligence, and that any of them should be treated with respect. Human rights is as new a notion as 1945, so it’s taken us far too long to get to this good idea. But we made it. And if we uproot the patriarchal dogmas that we have been brought up in, if we overcome them, we’ll have a chance of developing more civilized societies.

Here’s a video, “Women, War and Peace,” linked to in this Peaceful Protest Lesson Proposal. It’s just an example of all the nonviolent struggle going on that is not considered “struggle”, because patriarchy has taught us that only violent struggle is struggle, and honorable. And this is false.

564393_289129831196530_26175878_n(1)With our social movement on the streets in Spain, which we call 15M (mostly, I suppose, because “indignados” yet again just made men visible and this was unfair and feminist women and also less machista men protested — not necessary feminist, but some starting to understand or develop a feminist intelligence), and which is called the Occupy movement in English speaking countries, we have a very clear example of how good it feels, how right it feels, how intelligent it is, to use nonviolent struggle. The means should be an example of what we strive for, of the ends. Nonviolent struggle is non-hierarchical, every one can take part, from kids to the elderly, men, women, intersex people, hets, homos, bis, trans, all kinds of people, believers and people who do not believe in any kind of god (it’s not only believers like Gandhi or Luther King the ones fighting for justice through nonviolence)… not only what happens in armies around the world, right? Haven’t you seen how many things are happening where people are helping each other to protest home evictions, and also using nonviolent direct action?, this is, occupying the house, to defend the people being evicted? Or the street markets set in many neighbourhoods, where people are going back / rescuing “trueque”, bartering!

There’s the Arab Spring, too — and I know women were raped in some demos in Egypt, for instance, and we have to denounce that, but women were there fighting, too, they were taking part in this revolution, called nowadays social change, or the social movement.

On TV, have you noticed that when the demonstrations are just by young men, they’re full of violence and that when there are women, and other kinds of men (not only the Brute Force type), and all kinds of ages, from kids to old people, demonstrations are very definitely nonviolent, in spite of provocation?

Do you think there has ever been a time before where so many millions of people are demanding a better world, with less violence and injustice, to “their leaders”?

And there are people in Africa devoting their lives to nonviolent struggle, in the midst of brutal poverty and terrifying violence. And we should all learn to appreciate that, the best options we have if we want to survive as a species.

There’s much to learn from nonviolent struggle and I encourage you all to look for information, to discuss it on/in the street, at home, in bars, anywhere you can! The Franquist dictatorship taught people that we should never talk about politics or religion, and that is still operating, in spite of the fact that it is a crazy idea for democracies. It’s in our cultural unconcious memory, and we have to fight it, because it is not right. Politics is about us people living together and that should be built in cooperation, and via nonviolent struggle.

More hints:

  • Lysistrata
  • The nonviolent theory was developed by Henry David Thoreau in his essay, Civil Disobedience (1849). Thoreau’s argument that it was morally justified to peacefully resist unjust laws inspired Americans involved in the struggle against slavery and the fight for trade union rights and women’s suffrage (see also third wave feminism).
  • The Civil Rights Movement in the USA, with Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, thousands of students doing Nonviolent Direct Action, NVDA).
  • Gandhi and the Salt March. (If you are interested in more ideas about nonviolent struggle and today, you might want to read Por qué no soy gandhiana (Why I’m not a Gandhian), written from an anarchist pacifist feminist approach.)
  • The movement of Insumisión (by MOC people, who openly rejected violent action because they were/are pacifists — thought they call themselves “antimilitarists” because the term “pacifist” is not cool.
  • Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and other pacifist feminist groups or networks, like Women in Black.
  • Indians in America (which is a continent, and not a country) have also used nonviolent struggle, against acculturization, too. And Mayan people were incredibly creative since the European invasions.
  • People’s demonstrations all over the world against the Iraq war in 2003. People all over telling their leaders: we don’t want more wars; solve conflicts differently!

There’s so much, people! Just look around you and learn to see it as valuable, empowering, powerful, intelligent! Because we’re extremely lucky to live in this extraordinary time, when people traditionally pushed to slavery and harship, like most women and a lot of men, have finally the chance to lead their own lives.

Oh my! I can’t possibly keep writing this! There are so many experiences, books, handbooks (how to do this and that), people, peoples… and I really got to relax now a bit! So mull over it! And if you’re interested, some other day I can keep posting on this! 😀

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Money matters! (and a dedication to Alberto) :)

January 8, 2013

Today in Avanzado 2 we dealt with a video on money matters. People who have done unit 3 will have felt confident with this kind of vocabulary, for there is great vocabulary work in the unit on this, including a Vocabulary Bank. Come on, everybody! Catch up this week! Come on!!

I learned about microcredits when I was working at EOI Goya. There was an amazing OP on India, and here is Encarna’s piece on this precise topic! Click on the link she included (Nobel Prize) to watch a video. http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/world/countries/india/india07_microcredits.html

Btw, Alberto told me that my posts are too long! More people believe so, and I’m glad this came up. But I tell you, dear people, I won’t be deterred! 😀 😀 The spirit goes on and on and on…! 😀 (click on the previous link to listen You Can’t Kill the Spirit! – No podrás con mi ánimo, to do a free translation, “spirit”, ánimo. This is a song that was also sung at Greenham!) So I’m dedicating this one to you, people who think I should write less, right? Why should I? (empiric question, meaning Please tell me, if you like. I wonder why) I know your intentions are good, but you see, the Internet is the only space which welcomes us all! I’m not making anybody read me, I’m not taking away anything from anyone. I can write away, freely, and I do so! I write for you students, but I also write for anyone who’s interested. And I love the Net for allowing us to communicate and share in this way! It’s a nonviolent r-evolution and I love it. I believe we should learn to share and learn to be lifelong learners of everything. This is what happens when people are empowered — they might think they have things to share! 😀 😉 😛 And I do, I certainly do! 🙂 So just get organized if you are interested! When we’re really busy we can still find time (never enough) to do the things we love or believe in. But if you haven’t got much time to spare I think it’s better to use it listening to the textbook audios and podcasts than reading me! 🙂 Just find ways to use your English every day, OK? Learning a language takes zillions of time but it also opens the world to us!

Anyway, remembering the OP on India and how much I learned that day. It was amazing. There were so many team members that they amounted to half the people in class that day. They each prepared a different aspect on India, they brought spices and sandalwood and slides! I think I told some group of mine this story: on the day of this OP, we were all so engrossed watching the slide show they put together that we forgot about time. As we were in silence and in the dark, the school janitor thought we had left and closed the school!!! People were so adorable! They were organizing our survival till the following Monday (it was Friday, 9PM!) But heroically, I rushed down the stairs (from a third floor) and shouted my guts out and banged the doors and well, hahahah, the janitor realized what was happening! 😀 We had a laugh!

Sweet dreams, bay bees! 🙂

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How will you rise? (Getting ready for February)

January 7, 2013

vday

On February 14, the Vagina Warriors or V-Day activists — I am a member of this global network to end violence against women — are calling us all to join an international action called “One Billion Rising” (Mil millones en pie de paz, in my own translation). Check out their site to learn more about this: One Billion Rising!

ONE BILLION RISING * STRIKE - DANCE - RISE!

I joined this particular action at the beginning of the learning year in 2012 by helping spread the news, this is, helping people learn about this event — from mujerpalabra.net on social networks mainly.

As a teacher in adult state-run/public language education in Spain I will devote a lesson, on Feb 13 (Wednesday) for the Monday groups and on Feb 14 (Thursday) for the Tuesday groups, to learning about this movement and their activists — we might read a Vagina Monologue (TP website) and/or something from I Am an Emotional Creature (pdf file), or watch a video, or do a listening activity on the issue of violence against women on this planet plus, hopefully, something on students’ part — questions, a discussion, sharing info, dramatized reading of some part. It’ll depend on their initiatives.

vaginamonsTo my students, yes, I know that’s Exam Practice Week. I decided not to join the international strike and stay in class with you. Instead, I’ll be contributing to this hard and loving struggle doing something special in class: working on ideas that are helpful for the struggle against violence against women and respect towards their activists! So, don’t worry — we’ll do the first part of the Practice Exam on the first lesson that week (the Exam Practice Week), and then move the second part to the following week, its first lesson. No problem! The aim of Exam Practice week is for you to learn about exam format, not for you to pass an exam and get official marks! You’ll do that in June, not in February. February is just to learn about exam format and exam strategies and also to see if the techniques you’ve been practicing/practising are actually useful for your tests (For super extra mega preparation, I will publish here a Guide I wrote, so don’t fret — just be patient!) You can jot down your results, of course, and also tell me about them. But this is useless/pointless in terms of certificates, because in our system, the only mark that allows you or not to get your level certificate is the mark you get in June, when Certificate Exams are held.

i-am-an-emotional-creature-the-secret-life-of-girls-around-the-world

FAQ on EOI exams: This is not how exams work in the first years of a level — in your cases, Intermedio 1 and Avanzado 1. In those first years you had real exams now that could help you out if you failed any of the parts in the final exam. Those exams, unlike Certificate exams, are designed by teachers in your school and just allow you to pass to the second year of your level. In contrast, Certificate exams are designed by the local authorities and held every year for the second learning year in each level – as you know, we only have three levels: A2 (in Básico 2), B1 (in Intermedio 2) and B2 (in Avanzado 2). The exam is the same for all the schools in the Autonomous Community of Madrid and is therefore held the same day at the same time in all of the EOI schools.

Last, if you wish to contribute any kind of effort to this global event, you can count on me for info on materials (for instance, you can borrow one of the books and prepare the presentation of an activity!). But start by clicking on the images here and reading a bit, so you get the picture! 🙂

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At last! – A little present! CO Women / Objetoras

December 28, 2012

Today I got wonderful news from London! My translation of CO Women is finally downloadable in a pdf file — check out the link to the wri-irg website (War Resisters’ International – Internacional de Resistentes a la Guerra). Before you could just read it online.

Of course, my adorable students should read it in English (just click “English”) — not in Spanish! 😀 Anyway, we appreciate you spread the word on the existence of this book, because it’s probably the only book devoted and dedicated to CO Women!!! Isn’t it sad? And we had so very much trouble getting it published!!! (plus — considering we all worked for free! Who said volunteers get paid? Whereabouts is that Where?!)

http://wri-irg.org/pubs/objetoras-antologia

Whenever we get a bit for building our Herstory, so Mankind can become Humankind, I always sing this beautiful song by Drexler included in a movie on Che Guevara’s youth, when he journeyed with a fellow university student all over America (latin, indigenous) on a motorbike… 🙂 Hope you like it!

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Practice/Practise speaking about clothes and footwear

December 26, 2012

I put together this webpage,
http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/exercises/voc/clothingNfootwear.html, ages ago, when I was a secondary teacher and I didn’t have a podcast! It was material I designed for 1ºESO students! (the ones just out of primary!) They learned/learnt to use this language because then we would have a catwalk show! That was fun! They were so good at it!! Of course our catwalks had nothing to do with ordinary catwalks: everybody would walk down the corridor and be cheered. Because they were great at it!

Sadly, more on catwalks here:

Look at this picture: someone has deformed these women’s breasts. A dirty mind. Why should they do that?! It’s like when Fb people close down an account because you’ve uploaded a picture of breast-feeding, or one of nudists on a beach. The same people who are so alert on banning pictures of people who freely choose to be naked do not do anything about all the nudes of people who are forced into prostitution, human trade, pornography, or into eating disorders… We’ve even got porn-type “sexy” girls in Family TV programs/ programmes, and everybody seems to be OK about it.

Femen_anorexic_models_3People don’t seem to mind the fact that all our visual life is bombarded with women whose bodies are being used to make money, and perpetuate the equation FEMALE = doll to USE sexually (nothing to do with having sex with someone, which, incidentally, is not about the visual, but about all the other senses!). People tolerating, even defending, this “market freedom” get really upset, better said, outraged, when women strip in actions of their choice. So what does this mean? This speaks about hypocrisy in society, certainly, and mysogyny, too. It’s at the core of the patriarchal social system.

Women deciding when to strip, what to do with their bodies is OUTRAGEOUS, DANGEROUS and won’t be TOLERATED. Throught their silent consent, they do allow this radical visual invasion of naked women when the system is using and abusing them.

My respect to these women! Who are fighting for a better world for women. Dirty, the mind of whoever edited this pic.

Underage models should be banned from catwalks

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When crowds become mobs – Tips for trying to prevent this…

November 30, 2012

Woops, sorry – I edited this after having sent it out

The other day in Avanzado 2 Monday the term “mobbing” came up (mobbing < mob) and I clarified its meaning and pronunciation, which is not /múvin/ but /móbin/! 😀 “Bullying” also came up as another borrowing from English related to naming a group of people who hurt / abuse one person in various ways, not necessarily physically. Typically, mobbing takes place in private enterprises, where adults might get to be far too competitive, and bullying has school toilets and playgrounds as its typical scenario.

This week (yesterday) we also started a consciousness-raising activity in our School, in order to make people reflect upon our role in emergency situations. We teachers are useful for all kinds of things. But we’d rather have professionals in this area doing this. Guess why we can’t have them. Anyway, possibly next week, we don’t know when, an alarm will ring, indicating we should evacuate the building. We have to pretend it’s true, i.e. there’s much to learn from it. (And then once the activity is over, we can celebrate!) All occasions in life when you have the chance to learn something as relevant as this should be taken seriously! 🙂 You might think it’s useless because we all know it’s not true. How can I explain it’s not useless, considering I’m not a fire fighter! Well, I’ll resort to my experience, as usual. At the end of the 1980s I attended a few trainings in Spain on nonviolent direct action, conducted by people in the pacifist movement – the MOC men and women, COs and total resisters. I did so because I was traveling to Central America to be a nonviolent escort and an international witness with an independent NGO called Peace Brigades International. Our mission was deterring violence against the people we “accompanied.” Guess what we, the team, did every week. We set up a role-play, un sociodrama, based on a violent situation we might confront, and then we analyzed our reactions. This was very useful to allow us be well-prepared (not only psychologically, I must say) to react in the best possible way when we were “accompanying” human rights activists, trade unionists, relatives of the disappeared people, peasants… people who could be murdered or kidnapped in front of our very eyes — of course, this doesn’t mean we would necessarily succeed, you never know if you’re going to be able to control your fear, but the more scenarios you have in mind, the more chances there are for you to react in some of the ways you imagined. This is obvious! I also used scenario-analysis to feel more confident when wandering on my own at night in the city, or when traveling on my own. I’ve always supported freedom of movement for women, too! 😀 — and the visualization of a horrible threat women have had. (Oh, just remembered: the other day I mentioned this in some group, can’t remember now which: the feminist movement Take back the night! might’ve inspired (too) today’s slogan Take back the streets, like the MOC movement here inspired the present Conscientious Objection (CO) by workers in the Healthcare system.)

Evacuation needs to be a community process, and this means, we have to learn to take care of ourselves while trying to help out in the process, at least trying not to make things worse. We need to learn to control our fear and allow the goodness people are capable of, because most human beings are capable of solidarity. So three important pieces of advice that help greatly are:

1. Try to be silent – when people shout we can’t hear instructions that people in charge or people who have decided to help others might be giving. Also, we wouldn’t be able to hear people who were shouting for help, if something had happened (e.g. someone locked in a toilet.) Uncontrolled screaming — out of fear, because of panicking – obviously, not because of pain — increases the chances the crowd becomes a mob, a destructive force, murderous as we witnessed recently.

2. Forget about material things, i.e. belongings. Your priority should be your life and avoiding harming other people. If you are lucky and get the chance to put into practice how to behave in an emergency evacuation, it is not a good idea to waste this opportunity.

3. Move swiftly but carefully towards the exit (and then away from the entrance!), with the group of people around you, caring for yourself and others while thinking that everybody in the building needs to get out as soon as possible, which means, for instance, that you should not block the exits – not inside the building, not outside the building.

The equation Ignorance + Fear = Violence, like what happens with Anger + Fear = Violence, should be avoided, we should try our best to avoid it. We should not forget about our ability to be kind, to exert civic behavior. Most of us have the potential to behave in two very different ways: destructively, or controlling our fear and in solidarity.

Btw, I forgot to talk about this to the 16.30 Avanzado 2 Tuesday group! It seems my mind was more into hearing you talk about love! Oh my! 😀 Well, I hope the practice is not next Tuesday!!

Well, aren’t I a chatter box!!! 😀

More ideas for you mull over!

What is “mob mentality”

Source: adapted from Wise Geek (a team of researchers, writers and editors dedicated to providing short, clear and concise answers to common questions).

The term “mob mentality” is used to refer to unique behavioral characteristics that emerge when people are in large groups. It is often used in a negative sense, because the term “mob” typically conjures image of an aggressive, chaotic group of people. Social psychologists who study group behavior also use terms such as “herd behavior,” “herd mentality” or “crowd hysteria” to describe similar behaviors. The study of mob mentality is used to analyze situations that range from problems during evacuations to public gatherings that turn violent.

Herd Behavior

Not until the early 20th century did we start applying scientific theories about crowd behavior to humans, and we did so in order to find ways to minimize or control it. One reason for herd behavior is that humans, like other species, tend to do what others around them are doing. This usually is because those who join the group in the behavior figure that if several others are doing something, it must be worthwhile, or they would not be doing it. For example, people figure that a crowded restaurant must be serving good food, or it would not be as busy. In most cases, this thought process comes subconsciously, which is one reason why all animals take part in herd behavior.

Herd Mentality

Herd mentality involves more conscious thought than herd behavior. This type of mentality can be influenced by things such as peer pressure, conformity, the need for acceptance and the desire for a sense of belonging. These things often cause people who are in groups to behave in ways that are similar to others in the group. For example, you might choose to listen to different music when in a group of friends than you would listen to when alone, because the others might make disparaging remarks if another type of music is chosen. People in crowded celebrations tend to drink alcohol because of peer pressure, men in football events tend to use aggressive language that often leads them to physical violence.

Mob Mentality

Other factors come into play when the term “mob mentality” is used to refer to something negative. Two of the main factors are the greater anonymity that exists within a group and the distribution of responsibility for the group’s actions. These factors sometimes make a person believe that they can act a certain way within a group and not have the same consequences that the same actions would have if he or she acted alone. For example, if someone is in a group that is vandalizing a building, he might believe that there is less of a chance of getting caught than if he was acting alone, because it might be difficult to identify every person who was involved. This person might also feel less guilt because other people also vandalized the property. Another factor in mob mentality is the sense of confusion or even panic that can exist in a large group. An example of this can be seen when people in crowds suddenly begin rushing in one direction. Although many people in the group might not know why this is happening, they see the urgency in the group and begin rushing in that direction, too. In extreme cases, the urgency and panic increases, creating a sort of crowd hysteria, and some people might even get trampled (crushed) as a great number of people try to move in the same direction as quickly as possible. Even for something as seemingly innocent as a department store sale, a mob mentality might be evident as dozens of shoppers rush toward the sale items, push each other out of the way and fight over the items.

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This Is My Body

November 25, 2012

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Love letters to strangers

November 21, 2012

One of the amazing TED Talks: Listen to this! (gee, more love bubbles!)

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Obama wins (Phew!) – edited (fixing typos and rewording some bits)

November 8, 2012

Fortunately, Obama has won the elections. Women had a clear idea of why he was the best option. Young men and women (mostly Hispanic), too. And there you have it — this is one of the reasons why he’s now won. Not that I am much into party politics, but I’m clearly relieved by this piece of news, because the other option was terrifyingly frightening. This is also why I vote, in spite of my anarchist ideals. I’m as pragmatic as Spanish anarchists were when they supported La República asking their people to vote for it. They didn’t form a political party for obvious reasons, but they accepted sending reps to the Republicano Parliament. After all, anarchism’s proposal is direct democracy (assemblies) and in my view direct democracy has much more to do with representative democracy than right-wing policies. Ideals should always be pursued, they should be our guiding star, but we should never forget where we are, what is happening, we should never lose touch with what occurs around us. (This is something we can also learn from what happened then.) Reality keeps testing our problem-solving skills and it’s never easy to deal with, less so if you care about everybody’s human rights being respected.

Obama, congratulations for getting people’s support. I’m really moved by the fact that women have voted you massively, exerting a right — and why should we ever renounce rights? (If I cannot exert the rights so many people fought for, that’s not my revolution! – to paraphrase Emma Goldman! 🙂

Obama, I know how very scary previous USA Administrations have been to their own population and abroad, and you’re certainly the safest option.
Actually, I think you’re the bravest president the USA has ever had. I do believe you care about justice, and wish with all my might that you keep working hard at justice-related issues, not forgetting women, in a country which is a Western Democracy but allows forcing them to unwanted pregnancies and unwanted mothering (that’s not protecting life, precisely), a country that also allows people to suffer and even die of preventable diseases because there is no public healthcare system (why don’t you take a bit of the galactic military budget the USA has and use it to allow everybody to have access to healthcare!), a country that is the only Democracy that has not abolished the death penalty, and a country that has frightening foreign policies designed to secure material gains knowing this is based on abusing other people’s human rights. And well, the strangest of all, a country that does not separate politics from religion. To my knowledge, no other Western Democracy blesses people in political speeches or has “God” in paper money. Freedom of religion should not mean imposing religion. Spiritual matters are private matters, that believers should simply share in their private world, and not impose to all via the State.

Sweet dreams of a better world for all of us!

PS: When Obama won the elections for the first time, in my Avanzado 2 groups we worked a bit on this issue. Here’s that. That year, the Reading Proposal included Obama’s autobio. I just read the first 100 pages or so, on his childhood and before he got into politics. I still recommend the book, of course. You can read 4 typed pages I copied here.

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Greenham Common Wimmin’s Peace Camp

October 16, 2012

Today in the Avanzado 2 Tuesday group I was trying to explain that in order to be good listeners — to develop your aural skill — we need to work in different ways, and that not being a gifted listener does not imply one can never be a good one. I said I was not a gifted listener myself, and found a good contrast mentioning Nathalie’s case. Nathalie is a francophone Canadian friend (or “sister”, she’s an activist and we met in an activist location) who I met at camp (Greenham Common’s). This peace camp was in England, I was a bilingual Spanish/English, Nathalie’s English was not great, but from the start, she managed to understand all the very many different accents other women had (England is full of different accents!!, just England, not to say Britain!) and I simply couldn’t! Well, suddenly my topic was shifting to Greenham because people had never heard of this peace camp and were interested. But I realized that if I started to explain, we wouldn’t be able to meet the day’s lesson plan, so I promised that if students organized an OP (Oral Presentation) for December, I could do one myself, on Greenham.

I’d like to clarify what I clarified in class because society’s mainstream ideas about social activists are kind of wrong. I’m a pacifist, and this does not mean I despise people in the military. Actually, I believe some people in the military join this body because they want to protect people. And this we share, I mean, pacifists also want to protect people. The thing is we do so using totally opposing means — the military believes in the use of violence and pacifists believe in the use of nonviolence.

Going back to my little story, now, on second thoughts, I don’t think we would have the time for an OP on Greenham. I can speak about things I’ve been involved in for hours!! But we need to do one textbook unit a month, and the textbook is full of activities and/plus I would like people to do oral activities in the Exam Area (mons & dials, or OPs on your TV series), and also discuss our first book, Sherman Alexie’s novel, and read “useful language” and passages, and perhaps watch one of the documentaries I think people would enjoy — all of this before January!!

SO — here is a link to a project I’m involved in. Bringing life at Blue Gate (Greenham Common Wimmin’s Peace Camp) to the Internet for this last period at camp is not very documented. For the past 10 years wenever seem to get time to work on it (finish it)! BUT — it’d be also helpful for us to know what you think. I mean, you could read about Greenham in your free time, and tell me if the site is clear or confusing!! 😀 OR… YOU could prepare an OP on Greenham for December! 😀 http://www.mujerpalabra.net/activismo/greehamcommon/bloogate_eng.htm

Just a little tip: if you read the books that are recommended on this site what you will learn about Greenham is not the exactly the same as what Greenham was in its last years — for one thing, numbers dropped dramatically in terms of the actual number of women living there, and not in terms of the total number of people supporting the project and also visiting camp.

If you like, post your comments here, so we don’t have to use time in class to talk about this! 🙂

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Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns

June 12, 2010

The Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns Project involves (at least)…

  • Reading the book: you can order a copy for £5 (online shopping you can organize in class) or donwload it for free from the WRI website.
  • Interviewing Howard Clark, the Chairperson of War Resisters’ International  and editor of books like People Power. Unarmed Resistance & Global Solidarity (2009)
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