There’s a global movement in education afoot, and its beautiful, relevant, dynamic and barely whispered about in English (aside from Richard Kahn), or in the United States. It has formed around the name “Ecopedagogia“, and started the way one might start a bad joke… these 3 guys were sitting in a bar… One of these guys was Paulo Freire (who died right before he could write his book) another was my old boss at the Instituto Paulo Freire, Moacir Gadotti, and other was Francisco Gutierrez. Gutierrez wrote a book shortly after that meeting with Cruz Prado. It is Ecopedagogia y Ciudadania Planetaria (Ecopedagogy and Planetary Citizenship). You won’t find it on amazon.com, or in English. Here is an excerpt of my favorite part that my friend Natalia Bernal and I translated together, and I love it. I think it is pedagogical poetry.
“1.You make the road by walking. If pedagogy is a process, then it is made daily. Pedagogy does not exist as a premeditated theory to learn, but as a course to personally discover and create. The steps taken to create the pedagogy are lasting, once taken. Pedagogy is an opening of new paths that are dynamic, unrepeatable, meaningful, and spiritual (38).
2. Walking with meaning. From the dynamic, creative and relative perception, we learn that education can only be a process of elaborating meaning. The beacon that guides us in this process is not a near or far goal, but an aspiration that we have to create inside of ourselves. Feelings, intuition, emotion, and understanding of our life experiences are these guides for creating a reality we want to live. Walking with meaning signifies giving meaning, sharing meaning, impregnating daily practices with meaning, and understanding the meaninglessness of other practices that people will try to impose upon us. Every step of the educative process has to hold personal meaning. (39)
3.Walking with the attitude of learning. One is in the attitude of learning when one is open, receptive, and searching for learning. In other words, when one is acting as a conscious subject of the process. Applying pedagogy requires the ability to; feel, intuit, vibrate emotionally, imagine, invent, create and recreate, relate and interconnect, organize self, inform self, communicate, express self, localize, process, and use the immense information of the planetary platform, search for causes, predict consequences, criticize, evaluate, systematize, make decisions, and think wholistically.
What does the development of the above capacities imply? It implies breaking stereotypes, and valuing the development of the human being and social transformation. It implies that the educator, without letting go of her or his role as “student”, concern her/himself with meaningful learning aimed towards the formation of environmental citizenship and a planetary society. It implies the formation of a consciousness that goes from the individual to the collective in order to create social transformation. (40-42)
4. Walking in dialogue with one’s surroundings. Education is a process of exchange and interactive communication between the educand, her/his surroundings and the educator. Education is a process of communication, co-participation, co-production, and co-understanding with those involved in the education as well as with the environment the education is taking place in. At this level of sharing the educational process, one should be empathetic with their co-learners. (42)
5. In walking, intuition is the priority. Intuition, (subjective life experience, feelings, emotional expressions, and imagination) plays an essential role in the learning process. Feelings motivate us much more than reason or logic. They give our lives significance. To learn is much more than comprehending or conceptualizing a subject. It is to care for, share, give feeling to, interpret, express, and live. Traditional education considers rational thought the most important form of knowledge. The “new education” needs to support (in addition to rational thought) other forms of perception and knowledge as being equally valid and productive. In experiential education, emotional intelligence (knowledge of intuition, feelings, emotions, and imagination) can balance the use of rational intelligence and should be valued and taught from childhood. (44-45)
6.Walking as a productive process. The educative process must have immediate and permanent results, derived from practice itself. Education is productive when the subject constructs knowledge and expresses it, re-elaborates information, experiments with it and applies it. One needs to be conscious of what “products” are being obtained. Therefore it is important to document the learning, to keep a written, graphic, or audiovisual testament of the daily process in which the search for more knowledge along the themes of study can continue. This documentation is not simply a collection of completed given exercises, but a daily account of the information found in the street, the newspapers, radio, television, and cultural, artistic, technical, and scientific manifestations (47).
7. Recreating the world as you walk. Expression is synonymous with education. In that sense, it is contrary to repression, depression, and suppression. From the moment in which the student becomes owner of their expression we can speak about education. Coercion and obedience are contrary to free personal expression and autonomy. Communication, expression, and the use of language that is “alive” can elevate the quality of education and liberate external controls. Creative expression enables the establishment of an environment that gives psychological security and helps to develop creative talent (47-49).”
Coming upUPCOMING EVENTS
Currently none scheduled
April 28, 6:30 PM PRESENTATION: Action Research Community Reception and Recognition, AERA conference. In the Grand Ballroom East, Grand Hyatt, San Francisco
Oct 6,7 WORKSHOP: Theater of the Oppressed 101 at the Center for Political Education, San Francisco. A follow up to Popular Education 101.
May 16,23 WORKSHOP: Participatory Action Research for educators and organizers at the Center for Political Education, San Francisco. Registration is open here: www.politicaleducation.org
June 3 WORKSHOP: From Forum to Action; Participatory Action Research grounded in Theater of the Oppressed At the Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed Conference, Berkeley. Register here: http://www.ptoweb.org/
dates tbd, 11:00-5:00 April 28-31 WORKSHOP: "Practices in Youth-Led and Theater-Based Participatory Action Research" & PRESENTATION: Youth-Led Action Research to Heal the Streets 9th Annual Action Research Conference at the UCSD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences San Diego, CA
March 28-31 WORKSHOP: "Exploring the Intersections of Whiteness and Femaleness" White Privilege Conference Albuquerque, NM
Feb 21, 6:00-9:00pm White Noise Dialogue to explore why so many people socialized as white and female are in helping professions. San Francisco.
Feb 27 & March 3, 11:00-5:00 WORKSHOP: Popular Education 101: Theories and Practices for organizers. At the Center for Political Education, San Francisco. A remixed and re-offered version of Paulo Freire 101 offered last Spring.
Oct 15, 10:30-12:00 Neighborhood Safety Summit, Laney College, Oakland. Last year's Heal the Streets youth fellows and OPD officers will talk about their mistrust of each other, and what to do about it.
Oct 18, 6:00-9:00 White Noise monthly dialogue, San Francisco. People socialized as both white and female talk about Cultural Appropriation www.conspireforchange.org
July 21 Chicago, IL, PTO conference Workshop: Harvesting Knowledge for Collective Action: Youth-Led Participatory Action Research at the Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed Conference
July 23, 24, 30, 31 @ 4pm San Juan Bautista, El Teatro Campesino Free Performance: Popol Vuh, Heart of Heaven
August 4-7, 2011 Portland, OR, Aero Conference 2 Workshops: Participatory Theater for Educators & Youth-Adult Partnerships: Practicing Youth-Led Participatory Action Research
September 3, 4, 5 @ 1pm San Juan Bautista, El Teatro Campesino Free Performance:Popol Vuh: Heart of Heaven, Seven Macaw & the Magic Twins