A teach-in is similar to a general educational forum on any complicated issue, usually an issue involving current political affairs. The main difference between a teach-in and a seminar is the refusal to limit the discussion to a specific frame of time or an academic scope of the topic. Teach-ins are meant to be practical, participatory, and oriented toward action. While they include experts lecturing on the area of their expertise, discussion and questions from the audience are welcome. "Teach ins" were popularized during the U.S. government's involvement in Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. As an example, a teach-in at the University of Michigan in May 1965 began with a discussion of the Vietnam war draft and ended with the logistics of a takeover of the University.

Early 1965 events

The first major teach-in was organized by Students for a Democratic Society
Students for a Democratic Society (1960 organization)
Students for a Democratic Society was a student activist movement in the United States that was one of the main iconic representations of the country's New Left. The organization developed and expanded rapidly in the mid-1960s before dissolving at its last convention in 1969...

 at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor on March 24–25, 1965. The event was attended by about 3,500 and consisted of debates, lectures, movies, and musical events aimed at protesting the war. Michigan faculty members such as Anatol Rapoport
Anatol Rapoport
Anatol Rapoport was a Russian-born American Jewish mathematical psychologist. He contributed to general systems theory, mathematical biology and to the mathematical modeling of social interaction and stochastic models of contagion.-Biography:...

 and Charles Tilly
Charles Tilly
Charles Tilly was an American sociologist, political scientist, and historian who wrote on the relationship between politics and society. He was the Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science at Columbia University....

 were also involved.

The largest Vietnam teach-in was held on May 21–23, 1965 at UC Berkeley. The event was organized by the Vietnam Day Committee (VDC), an organizing group founded ex-grad student (sociology) Jerry Rubin
Jerry Rubin
Jerry Rubin was an American social activist during the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1980s, he became a successful businessman.-Early life:...

, UCB Professor Stephen Smale
Stephen Smale
Steven Smale a.k.a. Steve Smale, Stephen Smale is an American mathematician from Flint, Michigan. He was awarded the Fields Medal in 1966, and spent more than three decades on the mathematics faculty of the University of California, Berkeley .-Education and career:He entered the University of...

 (Mathematics), and others. The 36 hour event was held on a playing field where Zellerbach Auditorium is now located. From 10-30,000 people turned out.
The State Department was invited by the VDC to send a representative, but declined. UC Berkeley professors Eugene Burdick
Eugene Burdick
Eugene L. Burdick , was an American political scientist, novelist, and non-fiction writer, co-author of The Ugly American and Fail-Safe and author of The 480 ....

 (Political Science) and Robert A. Scalapino (Political Science), who had agreed to speak in defense of President Johnson's handling of the war, withdrew at the last minute. An empty chair was set aside on the stage with a sign reading "Reserved for the State Department" taped to the back. [Rorabaugh, pp. 91–94]

Participants in the event included Dr. Benjamin Spock
Benjamin Spock
Benjamin McLane Spock was an American pediatrician whose book Baby and Child Care, published in 1946, is one of the biggest best-sellers of all time. Its message to mothers is that "you know more than you think you do."Spock was the first pediatrician to study psychoanalysis to try to understand...

; veteran socialist leader Norman Thomas
Norman Thomas
Norman Mattoon Thomas was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.-Early years:...

; novelist Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer
Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S...

; and independent journalist I. F. Stone
I. F. Stone
Isidor Feinstein Stone was an iconoclastic American investigative journalist. He is best remembered for his self-published newsletter, I. F...

. Other speakers included: California Assemblymen Willie Brown
Willie Brown (politician)
Willie Lewis Brown, Jr. is an American politician of the Democratic Party. He served over 30 years in the California State Assembly, spending 15 years as its Speaker, and afterward served as the 41st mayor of San Francisco, the first African American to do so...

, William Stanton
William Stanton
William A. "Bill" Stanton , a United States career diplomat, is the current Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Taipei Office. His tenure began on August 28, 2009. The position that serves as de facto U.S...

 and John Burton
John Burton
John Burton may refer to:*John Burton , British stage and television actor*John Burton , American slalom canoer*John Burton , co-founder of the nonprofit environmental organization World Land Trust...

; Dave Dellinger (political activist); James Aronson (National Guardian magazine); philosopher Alan Watts
Alan Watts
Alan Wilson Watts was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and popularizer of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York...

; comedian Dick Gregory
Dick Gregory
Richard Claxton "Dick" Gregory is an American comedian, social activist, social critic, writer, and entrepreneur....

; Paul Krassner
Paul Krassner
Paul Krassner is an author, journalist, stand-up comedian, and the founder, editor and a frequent contributor to the freethought magazine The Realist, first published in 1958...

 (editor, The Realist
The Realist
The Realist was a pioneering magazine of "social-political-religious criticism and satire," intended as a hybrid of a grown-ups version of Mad and Lyle Stuart's anti-censorship monthly The Independent. Edited and published by Paul Krassner, and often regarded as a milestone in the American...

); M.S. Arnoni (philosopher, writer, political activist); Edward Keating
Edward Keating
Edward Keating was a U.S. Representative from Colorado.Born on a small farm near Kansas City, Kansas, Keating moved with his mother to Pueblo, Colorado, in 1880.He moved to Denver in 1889.He attended the public schools....

 (publisher, Ramparts Magazine); Felix Greene
Felix Greene
Felix Greene was a British-American journalist who chronicled several Communist countries in the 1960s and 1970s.He was one of the first Western reporters to visit North Vietnam when he traveled there for the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1960s...

 (author and film producer); Isadore Zifferstein (psychologist); Stanley Scheinbaum (Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions
Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions
The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, California was an important think tank from 1959 to 1977, declining in influence thereafter. The Center held discussions in a variety of areas that it hoped would influence public deliberation...

); Paul Jacobs
Paul Jacobs
Paul Jacobs can refer to:*Paul Jacobs , American activist**Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang, documentary film about the above*Paul Jacobs , Flemish author*Paul Jacobs , professional hockey player...

 (journalist and anti-nuclear activist); Hal Draper
Hal Draper
Hal Draper was an American socialist activist and author who played a significant role in the Berkeley, California, Free Speech Movement and is perhaps best known for his extensive scholarship on the history and meaning of the thought of Karl Marx.Draper was a lifelong advocate of what he called...

 (Marxist writer and a socialist activist); Levi Laud (Progressive Labor Movement); Si Casady (California Democratic Council
California Democratic Council
The California Democratic Council , an unofficial umbrella organization of volunteer Democratic Clubs, was founded at conferences at Asilomar and Fresno conferences in 1952-53 by future U.S. Senator Alan Cranston, State Senator George Miller, Jr...

); George Clark
George Clark
George Clark may refer to:*George Rogers Clark , American Revolutionary War military leader*George Clark , creator of The Neighbors*Sir George Clark, 1st Baronet, MP*George Anthony Clark, unionist politician and Orangeman*Col...

 (British Committee on Nuclear Disarmament); Robert Pickus (Turn Toward Peace); Bob Parris and Bob Moses
Robert Parris Moses
Robert Parris Moses is an American, Harvard-trained educator who was a leader in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and later founded the nationwide U.S. Algebra project.-Biography:...

 (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee); Jack Barnes
Jack Barnes
Jack Whittier Barnes is an American Communist and the National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party. Barnes was elected the party's national secretary in 1972, replacing the retiring Farrell Dobbs. He had joined the SWP in the early 1960s as a student at Carleton College in Minnesota and...

 (National Chair of the Young Socialist Alliance
Young Socialist Alliance
The Young Socialist Alliance was a Trotskyist youth group of the Socialist Workers Party in the United States of America. It was founded in 1960, although it had roots going back several years earlier. It was dissolved in 1992...

); Mario Savio
Mario Savio
""...But we're a bunch of raw materials that don't mean to be - have any process upon us. Don't mean to be made into any product! Don't mean - Don't mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone!...

 (Free Speech Movement
Free Speech Movement
The Free Speech Movement was a student protest which took place during the 1964–1965 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley under the informal leadership of students Mario Savio, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and...

); Paul Potter (Students for a Democratic Society
Students for a Democratic Society (1960 organization)
Students for a Democratic Society was a student activist movement in the United States that was one of the main iconic representations of the country's New Left. The organization developed and expanded rapidly in the mid-1960s before dissolving at its last convention in 1969...

); and Mike Meyerson (national head of the Du Bois Clubs of America). British philosopher and pacifist Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

 sent a taped message to the teach-in.

Faculty participants included Professor Staughton Lynd
Staughton Lynd
Staughton Craig Lynd is an American conscientious objector, Quaker, peace activist and civil rights activist, tax resister, historian, professor, author and lawyer. His involvement in social justice causes has brought him into contact with some of the nation's most influential activists, including...

 (Yale); Professor Gerald Berreman (Chair, UCB Anthropology Dept.); and Professor Aaron Wildavsky
Aaron Wildavsky
Aaron Wildavsky was an American political scientist known for his pioneering work in public policy, government budgeting, and risk management....

 (Political Science and Public Policy)

Performers included folk singer Phil Ochs
Phil Ochs
Philip David Ochs was an American protest singer and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and haunting voice...

; the improv group The Committee
The Committee (improv group)
The Committee is a San Francisco based improvisational comedy group founded by Alan Myerson and Jessica Myerson . The Myersons were both alums of The Second City in Chicago. The Committee opened April 10, 1963 at 622 Broadway in a 300 seat Cabaret theater that used to be an indoor bocce ball court...

; and others.

The proceedings were recorded and broadcast, many of them live, by Berkeley FM station KPFA. Excerpts from the speeches by Lynd, Wildavsky, Scheer, Potter, Krassner, Parris, Spock, Stone and Arnoni were released the following year as an LP by Folkways Records, FD5765.

Modern events

Modern Teach-ins have recently been used by environmental educators. The ‘2010 Imperative: A Global Emergency Teach-in’ was held on February 20, 2007 at the New York Academy of Science and organized by Architecture 2030, led by architect Edward Mazria
Edward Mazria
Edward Mazria is an architect, author and educator. After receiving his Bachelors of Architecture Degree from Pratt Institute in 1963 he spent two years as an architect in the Peace Corps in Arequipa, Perú...

. The event reached a quarter million people from 47 different countries with an interactive webcast
A webcast is a media presentation distributed over the Internet using streaming media technology to distribute a single content source to many simultaneous listeners/viewers. A webcast may either be distributed live or on demand...

. The webcast featured presentations by climate scientist James E. Hansen spoke to an auditorium full of students. On this day, ‘The 2030 Challenge’ and the ‘2010 Imperative’ were issued as strategies to mobilise the architectural design industry to stabilize carbon emissions in the building sector. Embedding ecological literacy
Ecological literacy
Ecological literacy is the ability to understand the natural systems that make life on earth possible. To be ecoliterate means understanding the principles of organization of ecological communities and using those principles for creating sustainable human communities. The term was coined by...

 in the architectural industry was the central strategy in the Teach-in.

The teach-in model was also used by a ‘Focus the Nation’ event January 31, 2008 and then again in the 'National Teach-in' February 5, 2009.

In 2011, Occupy Wall Street began using Teach-ins to educate people to the inherent problems in this form of capitalism.

See also

  • Bed-In
    During the Vietnam War, in 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held two week-long Bed-Ins for Peace in Amsterdam and Montreal, which were their non-violent ways of protesting wars and promoting peace...

     ... a 1969 publicity campaign for peace in the Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

     by John Lennon
    John Lennon
    John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

     and Yoko Ono
    Yoko Ono
    is a Japanese artist, musician, author and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking as well as her marriage to John Lennon...

  • Die-in
    A die-in is a form of protest where participants simulate being dead.- Overview :In the simplest form of a die-in, protesters simply lie down on the ground and pretend to be dead, sometimes covering themselves with signs or banners...

  • Sit-in
    A sit-in or sit-down is a form of protest that involves occupying seats or sitting down on the floor of an establishment.-Process:In a sit-in, protesters remain until they are evicted, usually by force, or arrested, or until their requests have been met...

  • Work-in
    A work-in is a form of direct action, where a group of workers whose jobs are under threat resolve to remain in their place of employment and continue producing without pay...

  • Human Be-In
    Human Be-In
    The Human Be-In was a happening in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, the afternoon and evening of January 14, 1967. It was a prelude to San Francisco's Summer of Love, which made the Haight-Ashbury district a symbol as the center of an American counterculture and introduced the word 'psychedelic'...

External links

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