Learning from corporates? – a 10 tweet summary of NFP tweetup 28

Anthony Leung, Social Media Manager at Just Eat

Just Eat base their social strategy on engagement. Reach and audience size arise out of this. Anthony advises against doing things the other way round: focusing on growing follower numbers can be self-defeating as you under-invest in engagement and lose followers in the long-run.

So how do you ensure engagement? Having a clear tone of voice is crucial, so that you avoid being plain and uninteresting.

Don’t ask ‘What content is right?’ Instead, ask ‘How does my brand behave?’

Imagine your brand as a person, and ask:

  • What makes them excited, frustrated?
  • How does this person speak – funny authoritative?
  • How does this person react to subjects that matter to your brand?
  • How does this person handle a bad situation?

Decide what behaviour you want to be known for, and encourage this behaviour in your supporters too.

Bringing marketing and customer/supporter care teams closer together allows you to harness the strengths of both. They’ll be responsive and on-brand, and you’ll all increase your understanding of your audiences.

Alex Goldstein – Senior Social Media Manager at TMW

Alex found that the corporate sector has more visible silos, whereas the often under-resourced charity sector tends to require individuals to take on a wider range of tasks. This can be empowering, and help charity sector workers get things done faster, but it can mean that they don’t always have the required expert support. And having to hold all those disciplines in your mind at once can cause confusion.

Broadly speaking, Alex has found that the corporate sector has more money, and is more courageous with risk. The charity sector has better stories and passion.

Endangered Emoji – Adrian Cockle, Digital Innovation Manager at WWF International

WWF wouldn’t say how much money the campaign raised, but the primary objective was awareness not fundraising.

Adrian summarised some observations on what makes for effective social sharing material:
To be effectively shareable on social media, a campaign/action should follow the NUDES approach:

  • Networked. e.g. social nomination mechanic.
  • Unexpected.
  • Dumb. Be easy to understand.
  • Exhibited. Involve a shareable behavior. Make it aspirational.
  • Stories. Enable or include stories?

This innovation was something new and untested. Charities tend to want to minimise risk by following the successful actions of other organisations.
But that aversion to risk holds charities back from innovating.

WWF encountered problems while innovating…

… but were able to overcome these because of pro bono support. Had the additional unanticipated costs of innovation not been borne by a third party, how different would this case study have been?

Page load speed of top 10 UK charity brand websites

Visitors like fast websites, and your digital performance suffers if your site loads slowly. How fast are UK charity websites, and which charity has the fastest website?

I’ve surveyed the websites of the top 10 UK charity brands, as identified by the 2014 Charity Brand Index. From a performance perspective, the ideal is to have a site that loads quickly, and for the amount of downloading required to be as small as possible. So you want a low ‘load time’ and a low ‘page weight’.

Here’s how the sites compare:

Graph displaying load time of the top 10 UK charity brand websites

Graph displaying page weight of the top 10 UK charity brand websites

  • BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief had the fastest home pages.
  • If you’re commissioning a new website, or want to improve the performance of your existing site, aim to beat the average performance of these sites. Aim for pages that:
    load in 3.5 seconds or less
    have a page weight of 1.9 MB or less
  • If your pages load in 2 seconds or under, and if your page weight is 1MB or less, you’re doing very well.

This data was obtained by running 4 unthrottled desktop speed tests using GTMetrix between 16 August and 22 August 2015 and averaging the results.
An interesting follow-up would be to look at mobile performance: set a mobile browser and throttle the connection to a common mobile download speed.

Download the data (ODS)

Social sharing – observations and recommendations

I’ve surveyed the social sharing options on a number of news publication websites, to see if there are any common or best practices. Here’s what I found:

  • Facebook and twitter are seen as the most important sharing networks.
  • Google+ is reluctantly included. Given recent announcements about Google deprioritising Google+, it seems likely to be even less of a focus in future designs.
  • Most publishers aren’t using whatsapp sharing yet. It seems to me like a good opportunity, and Buzzfeed and The Atlantic are leading the way. Some info on setting up whatsapp sharing. Note that Whatsapp desktop isn’t currently widely used.
  • buzzfeed social sharing options mobile
    the atlantic social sharing options mobile

  • Few publishers are using share by text. Again, Buzzfeed and The Atlantic lead the way. With mobile such an important part of the web traffic mix, we should plan for mobile-specific sharing options.
  • If comments are permitted, sometimes the option to comment, and the number of comments, are shown alongside social sharing options. Other times these are separate.
  • Few publishers are using social proof – showing the numbers of people sharing to encourage more people to share – perhaps because this would increase the page load time.

Some recommendations for best practice

  • Know what the most important actions are.
    The best buttons for your site depend on your users’ needs, and your objectives. In most cases, I’d start with: Facebook share, Twitter share, whatsapp share, phone share, pinterest share, email share. If you’re interested in information provision, printing / PDF download options will be important too. You should do user research to find out how your audience would like to store your content before committing to a design that doesn’t help people. e.g. if you’re designing a site for an older audience, a pocket sharing option is probably less useful than a print option.
  • Prioritise your top actions by making them larger.
    The Daily Mail has a Facebook share as its largest button, and iMore’s Facebook and twitter buttons are the largest by far.
  • iMore social sharing options desktop
    daily mail social sharing options desktop - top of article

    The Washington Posts’s social sharing options are quite cluttered. Perhaps some of these (e.g. tumblr and Google+) could be deprioritised or removed entirely.
    washington post social sharing options mobile

  • Design with different sharing contexts in mind – e.g. mobile as well as desktop.
    Try out whatsapp and text sharing for mobile users only. Most people will be printing from a Desktop
  • Think about how best to present your content when someone shares it socially.
    e.g. making sure that you have appealing sharing copy and images for pinterest. Customise your social sharing metadata for each page, so that you don’t rely on the social network trying to work out some copy for itself. There’s a great Moz post on configuring your social sharing markup.
  • Social sharing isn’t just about blocks at the top or bottom of an article. Calls-to-action weaved in to the page are very important. E.g. encouraging people to share a blockquote through twitter.
  • Think about how to encourage people to share.
    People are used to sharing content from publishers, but what about other content that might be valuable to share, but that people aren’t as used to sharing? Just Giving’s case study of increasing social shares of donations is a useful case study here.

Kristof and Wudunn: Half the Sky – How to Change the World

This is a set of notes from Kristof and Wudunn’s work on international development from a female perspective. Stories are more effective than statistics, so I’d recommend reading the full book for its powerful stories. Taken from Kristof and Wudunn: Half the Sky – How to Change the World (2013 Virago print of 2009 publication).

Female infanticide kills at least 2 million girls per year.

“Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest return investment available in the developing world.”

Major General Patrick Cammaert (former UN force commander) on use of rape in war: “It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in an armed conflict.”

Numbers and statistics are much less compelling than stories in motivating people to act.
e.g. it’s more effective to ask for money to help one named girl than it is to ask for money to help 21 million people. And even mentioning the context alongside the named girl makes people less likely to give.
e.g. in another study, people gave twice as much to save one child from cancer than to save eight.

We need to be empirical in our approach, and not defined by conservative/liberal ideology. The best AIDs prevention strategy in one study was neither abstinence-only education nor condom distribution, but education on the dangers of sugar daddies.

The Oportunidades program of financial incentives for education/public health outcomes achieves strong results, increasing school attendance by 10% for boys and 20% for girls. Children grow 1cm taller per year than those in the control group. The scheme encourages poor families to invest in their children, helping to break down the generational transmission of poverty.

Kiva is a microfinance organisation, allowing donors/financiers to loan to organisations vetted by local on-the-ground microfinance organisations.

Male-controlled family budgets in the poorest families in the world spend about ten times more on alcohol, prostitutes, sweets, drinks and feasting than on their children’s education.
Putting money into women’s hands improves children’s experience, with studies in Ivory coast, South Africa and Indonesia showing an increased spend on nutrition, medicine and housing.

After a 1993 Indian stipulation that 1/3 of village chiefs had to be women, bribery was reduced and water infrastructure improved, but satisfaction in the leadership fell. However, once a village had had a female leader, this bias against women chiefs disappeared.

The authors tackle the question of whether cultures can change, and the issue of cultural imperialism:
“We sometimes hear people voice doubts about opposition to sex trafficking, genital cutting, or honor killings because of their supposed inevitability. What can our good intentions achieve against thousands of years of tradition?
“One response is China. A century ago, China was arguably the worst place in the world to be born female. Foot-binding, child marriage, concubinage, and female infanticide were embedded in traditional Chinese culture. Rural Chinese girls in the early twentieth century sometimes didn’t even get real names, just the equivalent of ‘No. 2 sister’ or ‘No. 4 sister.’ Or, perhaps even less dignified, girls might be named Laidi or Yindi or Zhaodi, all variations of ‘Bring a younger brother’. Girls were rarely educated, often sold, and vast numbers ended up in the brothels of Shanghai.
“So was it cultural imperialism for Westerners to criticize foot-biding and female infanticide? Perhaps. But it was also the right thing to do. If we believe firmly in certain values, such as the equality of all human beings regardless of color or gender, then we should not be afraid to stand up for them; it would be feckless to defer to slavery, torture, foot-binding, honor killings, or genital cutting just because we believe in respecting other faiths or cultures. One lesson of China is that we need not accept that discrimination is an intractable element of any society.”

Cultural change has to be driven locally. It cannot be imposed: e.g. 1970s and 1980 efforts against FGM, or efforts to empower Afghan women.
The exception is public health measures that depend on research, materials and knowledge that don’t exist at grassroots.

“the sex slave trade in the twenty-first century… is bigger than the transatlantic slave trade was in the nineteenth.”

Happiness levels seem to be largely innate, and not greatly affected by external forces. But feeling connected to something larger can help us feel better.

Some name-checked organisations I wanted to investigate further: Camfed, Plan, Women for Women international, Tostan.

Why page load speed is important – the impact of site speed on conversions and revenue

Visitors expect your website to load quickly, and will leave if you make them wait too long. People will leave in a matter of seconds, and fractions of a second are significant here. Designing an attractive and usable website is important, but its performance shapes how it is used in practice. If visitors don’t even load your page, there’s no chance of them converting, and this reduction in conversions hurts your profitability. Taking a positive view of this behaviour, there’s an opportunity to increase conversions simply by improving your page speed.

Evidence for the impact of page load speed on business performance

Walmart: reducing page load time by 1 second causes an up to 2% increase in conversions. (Study slides, analysis)

Yahoo: reducing page load time by 0.4 seconds increased traffic by 9%. (Reference)

Google: increasing page load time from 0.4 seconds to 0.9 seconds decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20%. (Reference)

Amazon: every 0.1 second increase in load time decreases sales by 1%. (Reference)

A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. (Reference)

Radware: “one-second HTML delay resulted in… 3.5% decrease in conversion rate…” (Reference 1, reference 2)

Shopzilla: reducing average load time from 6 to 1.2 seconds increased revenue by up to 12%. (Reference)

Mozilla: reducing average load time by 2.2 seconds increased conversions by 15.4%. (Reference)

AutoAnything.com: 50% reduction in page load times increased sales by 13%. (Reference)

Obama campaign: reducing load time by 60% increased donation conversions by 14%.

How to test and improve page speed

To see how fast your pages load, go to gtmetrix.com or webpagetest.org and plug in your URL (or a competitor’s ;)). GTMetrix uses insights from Yahoo and Google’s separate page speed testing tools, and draws from their banks of improvement recommendations.

These free services will provide recommendations for how a developer could improve your site’s performance. Things like compressing images, making effective use of browser caching of static assets, and optimising the critical rendering path.

To learn more about the practical measures you can take to improve page load speed, this free online course on page load speed is useful.

Video – a 10 tweet summary of NFP tweetup 27

A discussion of film and video in the charity sector.

Featuring “The power of supporter-focused video to drive fundraising” – Francis Mason and Rebecca Highfield, Anthony Nolan; “Delivering for public health and fundraising? How Breakthrough Breast Cancer did it with TLC” – Matthew Jupe, Breakthrough Breast Cancer; “MyStory: Lessons learnt from delighting users through video content” – Jamie Parkins, JustGiving; and a panel discussion.

Anthony Nolan – supporter-created video and a brand storytelling video

Great examples of a supporter-created video and a slick brand video:

It’s worth reflecting on what distinguishes these two videos, and what unites them.
The formal quality of the supporter-created is lower, but it’s clearly good enough.
The second video is slicker – better film quality, better sound, transitions, and more clearly on-brand.

But the main feature of both videos is strong storytelling. The supporter-created video has an off-the-cuff charm, but it’s also clearly been carefully put together, by a funny and sweet supporter.

Much of the evening was focused on the second type of video – material produced by people working for charities – but I’m very interested in how we can help supporters to create their own content.

Touch Look Check – Direct Marketing on TV and trains

A promotional campaign asking people to request a guide for the signs to spot breast cancer, with a follow-up direct debit donation ask.

Intriguing that television was the dominant channel in this TLC campaign and that PPC and display weren’t used so much.


A JustGiving project that generated a personalised thank-you video for each London Marathon runner using their platform, and sent it out the day after the event.

The traffic to MyStory was overwhelmingly from the Facebook mobile app.
90% of MyStory referral traffic was from Facebook mobile. Only 1% from Facebook desktop. 5% from Twitter mobile.

Interesting to contrast the automated, perhaps slightly sterile, MyStory video generator with the rough-and-ready supporter stories. I guess the personalisation gives these videos credibility.

Panel discussion

Here’s a great example of a video that is designed for this short, silent, autoplaying context, by my colleague Eleanor Bowes:

One good point that came up was that it’s not enough to just create some high-quality video: you need to plan how to promote it. And, of course, you need to start with a clear purpose for any video.

Camp Digital 2015 – a 20 tweet summary

Camp Digital describes itself as “an inspirational conference that brings together the digital, design and UX communities for a series of seminars and workshops exploring the latest thinking in our industry.”

The Importance of Research and Partnership in Tackling Digital Exclusion – Sarah Bridges, Go ON UK

This session was a useful reminder of the importance of accessibility and inclusion. This session focused on the needs of older users, but made it clear that unequal access to digital is not just about a user’s age: nearly half of people who lack basic digital skills are of working age:

Sarah shared some useful information on the specific needs of older users:

The move away from skeuomorphic design towards flat design might have a negative impact on older people, who have a more mechanistic mental model of digital.

Lean UX and making sure that everyone in your team is on the same page – Imran Younis, Laterooms.com

My highlight of the day. An excellent talk, brimming with examples.

Ask “why?” five times to understand the problem properly before you start thinking about the solution. Otherwise you risk rushing to implement the wrong solution to a poorly-understood problem.

We need to focus our thinking around the problem/desired outcome because this is ultimately the only thing that matters. People want solutions not tools:

The lean startup workflow for ongoing improvement is simple and easy to communicate:

The lean startup model stresses that you need to keep learning after you’ve launched.
Constantly validate with users. You’ll never be perfect, but keep perfecting. (I like the optimistic yet humble humanism that seems to exist at the heart of this method.)

Close cross-team working helps retain/share knowledge and gives shared ownership of solutions:

Play back your results to your organisation. Show the value of what you’ve done after each sprint.

Understanding the context of use is really important:

Imran used an example of the HSE, who wanted tradespeople to be more aware of the dangers of working with asbestos. They researched the context of use before designing their asbestos-education solution.

Users didn’t actually find an alarming health app to be helpful or relevant to them.

But they did find the app helpful to communicate with their customers, and to charge them for the asbestos-related work.

Understanding this motivation helped Imran design the app so as to appeal to both sets of objectives.

Similarly, a classic case study shows that you sell more milkshakes not by focusing on improving the milkshakes themselves, but by understanding why people buy milkshakes. (See Clay Christensen’s Milkshake Marketing)

Evidence from user testing is hard to argue with:

Jargon interlude

The day’s key jargon takeaway was definitely ‘solutionise’. I think it’s analogous to ‘design’, but with the implication of ‘designing/developing/manifesting a solution’.

Garnering positive engagement from stakeholders who don’t understand UX – Fritz von Runte, NICE

A collection of tips for getting non-UX people usefully engaged with a UX process:

  • Always have a clear shared definition of success before you start
  • Simplify stakeholder requirements in their presence.
  • Ask why 5 times.
  • Turn opinions into questions.
  • Make it clear that business goals are not the same thing as user needs.
  • Bring stakeholders along to user testing, but don’t let them moderate it, as that’s a skilled task.
  • When stakeholders share a blog post, or journal article, or similar, be sure to follow that source in future. You’ll get an insight into their context.
  • Be experts on every metric that your colleagues use. They help you understand what is important to them, and how they frame their decisions.
  • Present UX learnings in a concise format. Use bullet points, and prioritise the list.
  • After doing UX research, define actions (not necessarily solutions) so that you’re proactively leading the decision-making process.
  • “Learnings from tests shouldn’t define new solutions, they define new problems.” (Can we do better than this? Expressing the value of testing like this might make it hard to get buy-in from internal stakeholders. Can we articulate the value of testing while also explaining that it won’t tell you what to do – it will help you understand the problem space better. Perhaps “Learning from tests won’t define solutions. It will hopefully help you better understand the problem, and hopefully will make you aware of further problems.”)
  • Do visual design last. This helps prevent stakeholders from focusing on little details of visual design, and keeps the focus on UX.
  • Even when you’re working in a team, you’re still the designer – it’s not design by committee.
  • Define success before you test.
  • Why design matters? How a design-led process delivers better digital services – Ben Holliday, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

    Some evidence in favour of user testing: Jared Spool found a correlation between number of hours spent with users and the quality of the design outcome. (Of course, correlation is not causation, but the kind of team that does good design is the kind of team that takes user testing seriously.)

    Ben reiterated Imran’s earlier point that design must be a process, not a one-off event.

    Turn research into tangible insights, setting boundaries for design challenges.

    Ben’s core message was that we need to achieve shared clarity of purpose:

    Example format for recording assumptions/understanding:

    How’s the Mobile Apocalypse treating you?

    A brief interlude because the Mobile Apocalypse has just hit. (Google has begun penalising non-mobile optimised sites in search returns.) A few websites have been caught out – I wonder how quickly each of the below organisations will be revealing a responsive redesign? (I wasn’t in this presentation, but wanted to share the slide anyway.)

    There’s gold in them there Hills! Creating ‘Hills’ to frame your releases around user-centric market outcomes, not feature requests – Daryl Walker-Smith & Richard Halford, IBM

    I liked the idea of a ‘hill’ as a place you want to get to – a bit like a military goal.

    You don’t know how exactly you’ll take the hill, but you know the purpose behind your work.
    Once again, understanding purpose is at the heart of our work.

    I thought this session struggled a bit under the weight of IBM’s history, and the terminology used. Apparently people usually have a one-week induction into this method, which makes it harder to unpack this methodology and get stakeholders using it.

    IBM uses sponsor users, not personas. Personas aren’t real users, of course, they’re just fabrications. Sponsor users are real users. But it’s difficult (and presumably expensive) to have users visit you multiple times a month for testing.

    Good observation:

    How does this belligerent (masculine?) language reflect or shape our discipline? What other metaphors could we employ to describe our processes?

    Digital disruption and the challenges faced by organisations with an focus on in-person, ‘real world’ transactions – Bea Karol Burks, Citizens Advice and Matt Lindop, Premier Inn

    The idea of “government as a platform” – putting service delivery before policy – is disruptive to service delivery organisations like CAB, who exist to provide services because government isn’t sufficiently service-focused.

    Echoing the core message of the conference, Bea advised us to “focus on problems not products.” Start with understanding user needs. For an organisation like CAB, user needs include ‘changing the world’.

    CAB have an alpha blog showing what they’ve done and learnt. It’s open to the public, and to comments. Critical feedback is really valuable.

    Great quote from Bea, against commonplace sloppy use of the term ‘agile’: “Agile is a discipline; it doesn’t mean not being disciplined.”

    Bea has an interesting vision for CAB’s future:

    • Use data on people’s problems to understand the performance of policies/services before the govt does.
    • Use data to connect and enable local campaigners to fight battles that CAB cannot.

    Splitting the Atom – Nick Wiles & Stewart Bromley, Atom Bank

    A talk about the Atom bank – a soon-to-launch bank that will be entirely online. This apparently makes it “a digital pure play.” (Second key point of jargon for the day.)

    Interesting contrast to the earlier talk:

    The talk started to develop some interesting thoughts on information architecture and personalisation…


    … but mainly this session felt like a product launch for a product that doesn’t yet exist.


    This was a strong conference with good inspiration and practical points. I’ll be sharing them with my team.

    Here’s what I’ll be doing next:

    • Learn more about the metrics that my colleagues use. (Information, Fundraising, Campaigns)
    • Read the milkshake marketing case study.
    • When developing new products, or trying to understand users and products, focus more on understanding the context of use.
      Don’t ask “How can we make our events pages more attractive?” Ask “When and why do people sign up for the marathon?” “What problem are they solving by signing up for the marathon?” “Where and why do people access our information products?” “What problems do they want to solve?”
    • Once I’ve got some development momentum, I’m going to resume playing back the results of sprints to the organisation, but focusing more on what we’ve learnt.
    • I’m going to think about how to incorporate the lean UX focus on continual learning into ongoing development sprints.
    • Introduce my team to the lean startup model and talk about how we might use this to help us with continual improvement from a content / user journey perspective.
    • Start using the word ‘solutionise’ and see if I get away with it.
    • Think about whether we could consciously map out our hypotheses and assumptions with different teams.
    • There was lots of buzz about The Ethical Designer – Cennydd Bowles, Twitter, so I’m going to watch the recording when it goes live in a couple of weeks.

Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed – revolutionary structures and methods

This is a set of quotes summarising Paulo Freire’s thoughts on the structures and methods needed for genuine revolution, taken from The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1996 Penguin Edition).

Appropriate revolutionary structures and methods

Who is a radical?

“What distinguishes revolutionary leaders from the dominant elite is not only their objectives, but their procedures.” (148)

“trusting the people is the indispensable precondition for revolutionary change.” (42)

“The radical… does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he her she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.” (21)

“The man or woman who proclaims devotion to the cause of liberation yet is unable to enter communion with the people, whom he or she continues to regard as totally ignorant, is grievously self-deceived.” (43) (What happened in early c20th Russia, with ‘going to the people’?)

“it is necessary to trust in the oppressed and in their ability to reason. Whoever lacks this trust will fail to initiate (or will abandon) dialogue, reflection, and communication, and will fall into using slogans, communiqués, monologues, and instructions.” (48)

“constant, humble, and courageous witness emerging from cooperation in a shared effort – the liberation of women and men – avoids the danger of antidialogical control.” (157)

“The essential elements of witness which do not vary historically include: consistency between words and actions; boldness which urges the witnesses to confront existence as a permanent risk; radicalization (not sectarianism) leading both the witnesses and the ones receiving that witness to increasing action; courage to love (which, far from being accommodation to an unjust world, is rather the transformation of that world in behalf of the increasing liberation of humankind); and faith in the people,…” (157)

“Instead of following predetermined plans, leaders and people, mutually identified, together create the guidelines of their action.” (162)

“if at a given historical moment the basic aspiration of the people goes no further than a demand for salary increases, the leaders can commit one of two errors. They can limit their action to stimulating this one demand or they can overrule this popular aspiration and substitute something more far-reaching – but something which has not yet come to the forefront of the people’s attention. In the first case, the revolutionary leaders follow a line of adaptation to the people’s demands. In the second case, by disrespecting the aspirations of the people, they fall into cultural invasion. the solution lies in synthesis: the leaders must on the one hand identify with the people’s demand for higher salaries, while on the other they must pose the meaning of that very demand as a problem. By doing this, the leaders pose a as a problem a real, concrete, historical situation of which the salary demand is one dimension. It will thereby become clear that salary demands alone cannot comprise a definitive solution.” (163-4)

Emancipation cannot be imposed

“the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.” (26)

“Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift.” (29)

“The correct method for a revolutionary leadership to employ in the task of liberation is, therefore, not ‘libertarian propaganda.’ … The correct method lies in dialogue. The conviction of the oppressed that they must fight for their liberation is not a gift bestowed by the revolutionary leadership, but the result of their own conscientização.” (49)

“The struggle begins with men’s recognition that they have been destroyed. Propaganda, management, manipulation – all arms of domination cannot be the instruments of their rehumanization. The only effective instrument is a humanizing pedagogy in which the revolutionary leadership establishes a permanent relationship of dialogue with the oppressed.” (50)

“The revolutionary’s role is to liberate, and be liberated, with the people – not to win them over.” (76)

“Revolutionary leaders cannot think without the people, nor for the people, but only with the people.” (112)

On charity and deference

“Any attempt to ‘soften’ the power of the oppressor in deference to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifests itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this. In order to have the continued opportunity to express their ‘generosity,’ the oppressors must perpetuate injustice as well. An unjust social order is the permanent fount of this ‘generosity,’ which is nourished by death, despair, and poverty. That is why the dispensers of false generosity become desperate at the slightest threat to its source.”(26)

“True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the ‘rejects of life,’ to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands – whether of individuals or entire peoples – need to be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world.” (27)

I think this is a useful observation for the UK Labour Party

“In a situation of manipulation, the Left is almost always tempted by a ‘quick return to power,’ forgets the necessity of joining with the oppressed to forge an organization, and strays into an impossible ‘dialogue’ with the dominant elites. It ends up being manipulated by these elites, and not infrequently itself falls into an elitist game, which it calls ‘realism’.” (130)

Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed – the banking and libertarian models of education

This is a summary of Paulo Freire’s explanation of the banking and libertarian models of education, from The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1996 Penguin Edition).

The point of education and human action is “the individual’s ontological and historical vocation to be more fully human.” (37)

Two models of education

The banking model of education is about depositing information into passive students

“an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues comminiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking” concept of education,…” (53)

The banking model requires students to adapt to the world, and encourages servility

“the banking concept of education regards men as adaptable, manageable beings.” (54)

“The more completely they accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is…” (54)

“Implicit in the banking concept is the assumption of a dichotomy between human beings and the world: a person is merely in the world, not with the world or with others; the individual is spectator, not re-creator.” (56)

Libertarian education

Education is not about integrating people into an oppressive society, but about understanding and transforming the world

“Authentic liberation – the process of humanization – is not another deposit to be made in men. Liberation is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it.” (60)

“Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming – as unfinished, uncompleted beings in and with a likewise unfinished reality.”(65)

“Whereas banking education anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, problem-posting education involves a constant unveiling of reality.” (62)

“Education as the practice of freedom – as opposed to education as the practice of domination – denies that man is abstract, isolated, independent, and unattached to the world; it also denies that the world exists as a reality apart from people. Authentic reflection considers neither abstract man nor the world without people, but people in their relations with the world.” (62)

What does libertarian education look like in practice?

“Through dialogue, the teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow… Here, no one teaches another, nor is anyone self-taught. People teach each other, mediated by the world, by the cognizable objects…” (61)

How to create a libertarian program of education

“The starting point for organizing the program content of education or political action must be the present, existential, concrete situation, reflecting the aspirations of the people.” (76)

“education… cannot present its own program but must search for this program dialogically with the people,” (105)

“the investigation of thematics involves the investigation of the people’s thinking – thinking which occurs only in and among people together seeking out reality… Even if people’s thinking is superstitious or naive, it is only as they rethink their assumptions in action that they can change. Producing and acting upon their own ideas – not consuming those of others – must constitute that process.” (89)

“the team of educators is ready to represent to the people their own thematics, in a systematized and amplified form. The themetics which have come from the people return to them – not as contents to be deposited, but as problems to be solved.” (104)

“after several days of dialogue with the culture circle participants, the educators can ask the participants directly: ‘What other themes or subjects could we discuss besides these?’ As each person replies, the answer is noted down and is immediately proposed to the group as a problem.” (104-5)