iDance | Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed as a source of inspiration

Paulo Freire’sPedagogy of the Oppressed
as a source of inspiration for contemporary dance education for people
with and without disabilities. In the framework of the iDance project, co-funded by the Erasmus + Programme
of the European Union. The first book that we’ll present
to you in this series is thePedagogy of the Oppressed. It’s a book of great significance,
by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. Some thought of it
as being extremely radical. Others, however, consider it
as a classic manifesto. In any case, this book caused
a stir in the field of pedagogy and gave birth to the movement
known as “critical pedagogy”. Freire was an inspired teacher
who worked mostly with adults. He treated students not as
passive recipients of knowledge, but as social and political agents that, by becoming self-aware
of their position in the world, can contribute towards
social change through their actions. For Freire, education is a practice of freedom, which creates intellectually independent
and enhanced individuals. In the context of our group, it was
this exact aspect that drew our attention. because we felt
from a very early stage, that dance should be an exercise in freedom
for the participants of this workshop. within a space of self-conscious
action and autonomy. In this video, we’ll discuss
two ways in which our workshop was influenced
by thePedagogy of the OppressedOne of the first principles
that Freire suggests is the need for educators
to engage deeper with their students; to discover their personal agonies
and interests, and use them as a starting-point
for the education process. My letter is “Tee.” And I wrote: “Time for music”. Because… I like to write music… …but also play music. My leter is “O.” I fly like a bird… Outside… I want to fly. I’m ready to fly. In our workshop, we’ve practiced
a number of exercises and activities, in order to engage deeper
with each participant. We drew maps depicting everyone’s
personality and everyday life. We designed exercises revolving
around our favorite objects or texts. Through improvisation, each of us developed
a unique, dance gesture. In a group
with learning difficulties, it is very important for the educator
to investigate and discover what activates a student or the whole group
under different circumstances. It can be anything. An unexpected instruction;
a name, for example, or a word, an image,
a funny rule, an object, a certain rhythm,
or a piece of music. Literally, anything. Freire’s book also helped us
in dealing with situations that seemed to halt
the group’s progress or distract us consistently
from our main topic. Perhaps a student was fixated
on a certain object, such as a cup of coffee
or a palm tree, or on a certain activity,
such as football. Hence, instead of constantly attempting
to “restore order,” we thought of using this “distance”
as a starting point for a new exercise. To confront it
instead of avoiding it, because something
much deeper may lie behind it; an aperture, perhaps, to a student’s
thoughts and feelings. Whenever we followed this approach, the student in question
felt great joy, since the whole group
was focusing on something that he or she found exciting. Moreover, it created an emotional
connection among our group, since the rest of the students, by dedicating
time and effort to their fellow student, felt that they contributed
in the well-functioning of our team. Freire’s book is filled
with thoughts that will affect the way in which
you perceive the education process. This was just a sample of its ideas,
as employed in our workshop. Movement workshops for people with
and without intellectual disabilities. Credits: Menti Mega, choreographer
and Irini Kourouvani, dancer. Video: Alaska
Produced by: Onassis Stegi

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