Seven weeks of Mythbusting
July 2, 2013 // By: Huw Jordan
Our seven week Mythbusters online course came to an end with its final class last Tuesday.
Based on our Mythbusters series of blogs and articles, each class focused on a common economic myth, and taught activists and campaigners from across the country how to take the myth on when they came across it in their work and everyday lives.
Over 300 people were signed up to the course, some having applied through our open application process and others signed up by our partner organisations: Unite, Friends of the Earth, TSSA, Wales TUC and Quaker Peace and Social Witness.
Myths debunked during the course included the fallacy that “Britain is broke – we can’t afford to invest”, the delusion that “There’s nothing we can do about tax havens” and the damaging societal division of “Strivers versus Skivers”.
Live online classes took place on Tuesday evenings and began each week with a lecture and Q&A session from a selection of prominent journalists and economists.
Gracing our webcam throughout the series were presenters including Owen Jones of The Independent, John Christensen of Tax Justice Network and Polly Toynbee of The Guardian, as well as our very own James Meadway, Lydia Prieg, Anna Coote and Julia Slay.
After getting the chance to quiz experts about economics, our course participants were split into groups of four via webcam to take part in activities to practice their mythbusting.
Amongst the activities were mock media interviews, where one participant took the role of Jeremy Paxman while the other group members batted away their questions with their newfound economic knowledge.
In other classes participants from unions, NGOs, faith groups and the grassroots discussed how best to stop the spread of economic myths, and shared their different campaigning experiences and practices.
At the end of each class our partner organisations had the chance to talk to the people they had recruited and deliver a presentation describing how the lessons learned applied to the campaigning work that they were pursuing.
In between classes participants pored through our reading lists on each subject covered, took part in a vibrant discussion board, and set up #nefmb on Twitter to share mythbusting articles amongst each other.
Their homeworks were to go and take on economic myths where they saw them, from posting on social media and writing comments at the bottom of online articles, to writing letters to local newspapers and even having real life conversations!
The online course was set up as part of the New Economy Organisers Network (NEON), a network of individuals across a broad range of campaigning backgrounds working to replace neoliberalism with an economics of the common good. Part of NEON’s work is to connect these individuals and build their economic knowledge, which is why the online course was set up.
From a weekly gathering of Quakers watching from a school hall in Porthmadog, North Wales, to Kate Macdonald of TimeBank Hull & East Riding tuning in from the back of her car while holidaying on an Isle of Skye campsite, people have devoted great time and effort to taking part.
Now we hope to build on the commitment of our Mythbusters alumni, helping them to develop the network they have built by providing them with further resources and organisational assistance based on a survey of their needs.
It’s been a fantastic seven weeks, with participants from Glasgow to Brighton, signed up from organisations as diverse as Friends of the Earth and Unite, coming together to learn how to take on the myths that are propping up misguided economic policies all around us. It simply remains for our Mythbusters alumni to spread the word and make sure the economic myths they come across do not go unchallenged.
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