Sunday, September 1, 2013

First teaching days! We are now in the thick of it and loving it.

   August 19th was the first day of classes for the new semester and Leanna and I jumped right into the “thick of things.” Our first Labor Relations class began at 6:50 am (yes that is six fifty am) and lasted till 9:35 (2 hours and 45 minutes, OMG!  This class time is referred to as the first shift rather than first period. There are four day shifts and a night or evening shift. Our second class is a 3rd shift class on Tuesday from 12:30 pm till 2:55 pm and is in a VERY WARM classroom on the fifth floor. Though there are elevators we walk up. The height to ceilings in the rooms is about 15 foot so walking up five stories is at least a 75 foot elevation change. The student desks/benches are wood with two or three students sitting together at one desk, yet we didn't hear any complaints. 

The LR class has 108 students registered as of today (28-8-13) and registration is open for a few more days. The Conflict Resolution class has close to 60 students so we have a handful. In addition to the classes we will give faculty, staff, and students practice with English native speakers as well as conducting staff seminars on labor relations, collective bargaining, and so forth.  We're also conducting a series of popular education classes utilizing labor issues as topics so students experience popular education exercises and activities.  The campus is now FULL of students and lots of activities from early morning until mid-evening.  The weather does deserve mention. The hot temperature each day is about 93 to 95 degrees with humidity in the range of 90% to 100%.  Most days it rains for a bit and we often have a thunderstorm. In the evening/night it cools down to maybe 78 to 80 degrees so we get up at 5:15am almost every day and take a very brisk walk.  We really appreciate the air-conditioned apartment and office TDT provides us.  We've adjusted some to the heat (Leanna is known for her hand fan and handkerchief), but find the air-conditioning a welcome break. 

Our students are about 70% young and female and all seem very capable and committed to gaining a good education. They expect a lot and we intend to provide what they want. We are using a popular education model in our formal classroom instruction with lots of role playing and group activities utilizing simulations of working class culture in factories and other work places. The roles make people have to play the part of management as well as of workers and union leaders in collective bargaining, grievance handling, social dialog in Win/Win Conflict Resolution and Alternative Dispute Resolution. We also have groups of students undertake research on labor questions and then make a presentation to the class followed by critical analysis. 

    The popular method we are using is based on the work of Paolo Freire in Brazil and others who have found it a strong tool to create critical consciousness of economics, culture and the struggle of working people for a livable standard of living. A good number of the students plan to use their educate here to work in the union movement as organizers and staff and that is exciting! 

 It is a different world working in a developing socialist society rather than in a super developed, individualistic, alienated consumer society run by the .2% and Wall Street. In the long sessions on collective bargaining we will stress organizing tools as well as agitation in the movement and to use Conflict Resolution in a manner that resolves contradictions with gains for workers as well as for the profit making businesses that are bringing money into the nation through direct foreign investment businesses and other business activities. It is interesting to find that here in this developing economy that human resource majors are taught to think how they can use their position within a corporation or business as a platform to build a socialist society with more equity for the working people and the community within a market socialist economy that allows for capitalist enterprise.

In other words we are asked to stress the concept that human resources can be part of the process to serve the working people and the community not just the business owners who pay the wages. This exposes the contradiction offered by capitalism of “human resource as a tool of management” to control employees and to carry out business dictates that may have only the maximization of profits and is inadequate and against developing a society of harmony, stability and progress: the goal of human action.  Human resource can be used for benefit of workers and society!

These posted photos are from Open Day showing the engineering students demonstrating their inventions and Labor Relations Department students meeting with new students to help with orientation to the campus and academic work.

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