Occupy! in education

Saturday I attended the Occupy! conference at Goddard College in Plainfield. The conference consisted of a keynote by author Les Leopold and three panel discussions, as well as a General Assembly held afterwards.

A lot of the discussion centered around the “non-oppressive” communication techniques used during General Assemblies, as well as how facilitators seek to recognize and resolve issues around “implied power”. Some of the panelists were actually defensive when commenters seemed to question the necessity of these tools of communication. A good summary of General Assembly guidelines and procedures can be found here via Occupy Los Angeles.

This video provides a decent look at how a GA plays out:

What I wonder is how these same non-oppressive tools of discussion can be used in the classroom. I think a lot of teachers are already doing “temperature checks” in one way or another. “Twinkles” are just one more low-tech way of checking for understanding/consensus. What about whole-class discussions using these procedures? Would it really help balance participation between timid students and those with strong personalities, the way it’s supposed to? I’m not sure. And I’d like to see how students respond to the gestures. Maybe it fills the need that young people increasingly have for instant feedback.

If you get a chance to try it out, let me know how it goes.