The Chicago Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) Teaching Collective is an all-volunteer group that organizes interactive workshops, film screenings, and trainings which aim to inspire action. We also produce educational materials and resources. We provide opportunities for youth and adults to explore issues related to mass incarceration. We focus on practical steps to inspire, inform, and enable action, and on how to develop workable alternatives.
Our primary goals are to inspire and motivate people to take positive action against the mass incarceration system and to build a base of individuals across the city who are committed to dismantling the PIC.
Other goals of the PIC Teaching Collective include:
1. To offer popular education workshops and coordinate a week-long institute about the nature and impact of the PIC in local communities across Chicago.
2. To develop curriculum units and other educational materials in order to put useful tools in the hands of people fighting to dismantle the PIC.
3. To continue to deepen our own understanding about the PIC through education.
We are interested in using popular education as a tool for consciousness raising and action around the PIC. We believe that Chicago needs more popular education to build a movement to dismantle the PIC.
Popular or liberatory education aims at getting people to understand the world around them, so they can take back control collectively, understand their world, intervene in it, and ultimately transform it. As such, we believe that popular education is vital to social change.
Workshops developed by members of the Collective provide an important place for people to talk about their experience, to learn new knowledge, and to hopefully use the information provided and understanding gained to mobilize for social justice. Workshops integrate popular education in whatever ways we can. Specifically, the model of all workshops is to start with the experience of the participants and use that experience to understand what is happening in the world. The workshops stress the importance of education for action, not simply education for the sake of education.
 We rely on the following definition of popular education: “Its curriculum comes out of the concrete experience and material interests of people in communities of resistance and struggle. It is focused primarily on group as distinct from individual learning and development. It assumes a direct connection between education and social change” (The International Popular Education Network, 2004).