We had three rules when we were teaching the revolution class at LEC

1) It has to be immediately relevant to the students
2) It had to be interactive – no lectures
3) It had to be better than television

We used different tools to make sure we were following our rules. To insure that we were immediately relevant we had the students scream “Bullshit” at the teachers when they found what we are doing boring or off point.

The assumption here is that our class on revolution was designed to looks not simply at over throwing governments, but the much richer definition of revolution which is:

A revolution is a dramatic change in the power relationship between individuals and institutions.

So to be clear, this is not a “history of revolution class” this is a designing revolution class.  And one of the most oppressive power institutions is our education system, especially schools and colleges. The teacher has power over the students. If we are going to change that dynamic, the most accessible way for the students to have control over the structure and content they’re being taught, to be able to yell “bullshit” and for the teachers to be required to change formats. Either offering something different, giving up control of the class to the yelling student or canceling the class.

Over the 5 years i taught at LEC we did each of these. Every third or fourth class some bored student would yell “bullshit” at us, and we moved on a dime. Some quick negotiations and we were doing something different.  Once we ended up playing capture the flag on the Cville downtown mall, which was remembered fondly by many of the students.  And this was not what they usually chose.  Instead they would sometimes take over the class, and most often tell us as teachers what topic they wanted us to be facilitating the conversation about.

After i had been teaching for a couple of years, a group of revolution class students started an anarchist book store, gallery and event space in Cville.  They called it “better than television.”  i was quite flattered.