GAU Shirts for Democracy
October 30, 2013
Graduate Assistants United is pleased to offer free t-shirts to GAs who sign up to become new members, while supplies last.
The shirts are charcoal-grey in color and feature a maroon “GAUnited” logo over the right breast on the front, and a white Saluki dog on the back.
The words “Graduate Assistants United” and “SALUKI SOLIDARITY” appear on the back. “Democracy in Education” and “Education for Democracy” are written above and below the Saluki dog—indicating the mutually reinforcing relationship between learning and decision-making.
In the book Democracy and Education, author and philosopher John Dewey wrote that “mutually interpenetrating” interests in social life make education critical. And any mode of participatory decision-making—or process of social deliberation—requires education.
“Since education is a social process,” Dewey wrote, it should give “individuals a personal interest in social relationships and control,” especially over the decisions that most affect them.
“Since a democratic society repudiates the principle of external authority,” Dewey explained, “it must find a substitute in voluntary disposition and interest; these can be created only by education.”
But Dewey dug deeper.
“A democracy is more than a form of government,” adding that “it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. The extension in space of the number of individuals who participate in an interest so that each has to refer his own action to that of others, and to consider the action of others, and to consider the action of others to give point and direction to his own, is equivalent to the breaking down of those barriers of class, race, and national territory,” that can keep us from fully comprehending the significance of our activity.
Pedagogy—that is, the art, science and philosophy of education in practice—should be a democratizing experience.
This holds true within institutions of education, like the University, and it is also true with respect to public pedagogy. The latter refers to the social process of education. Public pedagogy can refer to media and social movements, including unionism
We want Graduate Assistants United to function as a democratizing mode of public pedagogy, and as a process of mutual learning to better give GAs the capacity to make decisions that impact our education, our lives and ultimately the world in which we live.
As an organization, GAU aims to be as democratic as possible, and thankfully we do not have to re-invent the wheel to do so.
To the point, indigenous communities Chiapas, Mexico, have an educational organization in which many “are involved in community, workplace, union, student, cultural, environmental, and peace activism,” where they try to carry out their “work in the spirit of dignity, democracy and justice.”
The communities also hold public Little Schools for activists across the world to come and learn about the struggle of trying to govern democratically from below, putting “practice first, then theory.”
The indigenous communities in Chiapas have a philosophy of mandar obedeciendo, which means to command by obeying. It means that those in—usually temporary—positions of power must always obey those they lead.
Those of us involved with GAUnited have a similar educational philosophy—one that promotes democracy inside our organization, within the University and throughout society.
We would like all of you to participate in this democratic and educational process, which is why we chose the design of the shirts that we did.
GAUnited Communications Committee
If you would like to sign up to become a member and receive a shirt, or if you are a current member who would like a shirt, please contact GAU. Shirts are available while they last. If members would like more after we run out of shirts, please send us new design ideas!