The Power In Our Hands: Introduction

Article. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 1988.
Teaching insights and introduction to using The Power In Our Hands curriculum book.

Themes: Labor

powerinourhands_9780853457534All the lessons from The Power In Our Hands: A Curriculum on the History of Work and Workers in the United States are available to download for free.

From the Introduction


What would it mean to live
in a city whose people were changing
each other’s despair into hope?—
You yourself must change it.—
What would it feel like to know
your country was changing?—
You yourself must change it.—
Though your life felt arduous
new and unmapped and strange
what would it mean to stand on the first
page of the end of despair?
Adrienne Rich

To teach is to be a warrior against cynicism and despair. We lose battles daily:  A student comments that all people are selfish and out for themselves; a fellow staff member confides, “That woman is beyond hope.” Last year, one of our students attempted suicide with Drano and orange juice.

We’ve joined the fight in different decades and at different points. One of us is a high school teacher, the other a college professor and labor educator. We share the goal of having our teaching contribute to the creation of a fully democratic society in which people have power and hope. To this end, we see an understanding of labor’s heritage and of the strengths of working-class culture as crucial. Crucial also are skills of informed and effective participation: to be able to analyze and take action.

The Power In Our Hands Available for Download

This is the introduction to the 16 lessons in The Power In Our Hands. The lessons available for individual download are:


Unit I: Basic Understandings

Unit II: Changes in the Workplace/”Scientific Management”

Unit III: Defeats, Victories, Challenges

Unit IV: Our Own Recent Past

Unit V: Continuing Struggle

Order the book online from Monthly Review.