You are invited to our first Practising Freedom reading group meetings in
Edinburgh, Aberdeen and online (Glasgow coming soon).50 years ago Brazilian educator Paolo Freire published Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a book which would inspire educators worldwide to reclaim education as a means for critical transformation, creating an educational movement in the broadest sense - not least in Scotland.
But what’s its relevance today?
Together we want to explore, celebrate & unravel this text and it’s relevance for all kinds of practice.
Tuesday 27th February 5 - 7pm
@ Serenity Cafe,
The Tun, 8 Chrichton Pl, EH8 8PJ
Wednesday the 28th of February 6:30-8:30pm
@ The WORM Castlegate,
11 Castle Street, AB11 5BQ
7th March - 1.15 - 2.30pm
email firstname.lastname@example.org for a space
Why a reading group?
This will be an opportunity to come together and discuss chapter 1 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, what our questions are and how it's relevant (or not) to our experiences and practice today.
Please contact us at email@example.com to tell us you're coming.
You can access Pedagogy of the Oppressed as a PDF, or online as an audio recording.
For more details click here.
If you have any questions or concerns about finding or accessing the venue or the structure of the event please get in touch. We are aware that there are some access limitations with these venues and if this is a concern would ask you to get in touch to discuss these and explore options.
These will be the first of a number of Pedagogy of the Oppressed inspired events so keep in touch:
Our 6th webinar(s) have been scheduled and will be around the theme of:
Values into Actions: opportunities, challenges and risks of practising what we believe in critical education
They will take place on:
Monday 6th November from 12.30pm to 1.45pm and Wednesday 8th November from 7.45pm to 9.00pm
If you would like to participate contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a calendar invite to secure your place.
If you have never taken part in one of our 'webinars' before, you can read more about what it involves here.
Why this topic?
We've talked around the idea of values in our work (as individuals and as a group) a lot over the last year, but we've never been able to give it the time we feel it deserves. As we come to the end of our first PAR cycle, it feels appropriate that we spend a bit of time finding common-ground in terms of the value base that informs our work as critical educators - but also identifying places of divergence which might need further exploration and praxis in the year to come.
We hope you'll join us for this conversation, bringing with you a sense of what's important to you, being willing to hear what's important to others, and being ready to collectively build a sense of what's important to us as a community.
We will share the resources related to this webinar very soon!
CAMINANTES! Help wanted...
One of the things that has come out of our webinar discussions as well as face to face discussions this year, has been the need to make critical education (or popular education as some are more comfortable describing it) more accessible. How can we encourage practitioners to recognise their practice as critical education?
One idea we came up with for doing this was to create a short film which highlights all the values/practices and actions which critical education encompasses.
And here are some statements we've collected already which you could use if you haven't got any ideas of your own...
Choose tolerance, choose empathy, choose to set aside a space and time for thinking, choose your allies, influence your foes, choose to ask why, choose to rehearse and establish the habits of democratic participation, choose to recognise your privilege and use it for a common good...Choose Hope, choose Love, Choose Solidarity, Choose to feel, choose to connect, choose to unsettle and to be unsettled, choose to stir and choose to be stirred, choose to be present, Choose solidarity, choose to feel deeply, choose to unsettle and to be unsettled, choose empathy and connection, choose to be present, choose to stir things up once in a while, choose to recognise your privilege. Choose Grassroots, choose and equip yourself with broader theoretical understandings of the world, as Freire and Gramsci will only take you so far, Choose to challenge the hegemonic agenda, and break the culture of silence, Choose yer maws advice, and keep yer ears tae the ground, choose your questions, choose liberty, choose life, choose critical education.
Here's how the idea began:
The below words were (in)famously voiced-over Iggy Pop's 'Lust for Life' to promote the film Trainspotting. We want to adapt these words for our own purposes to create a shareable video which tells people what 'critical education' means and we need your help!
If you were to adapt the lyrics below to explain and exemplify critical education what phrases would you use?
Choose life.�Choose a job.�Choose a career.�Choose a family,
Choose a fucking big television�Choose washing machines, cars,�Compact disc players, and electrical tin openers.�Choose good health, low cholesterol
And dental insurance.�Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments.�Choose a starter home.�Choose your friends.
Choose leisure wear and matching luggage.�Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase�In a range of fucking fabrics.�Choose DIY and wondering who you
Are on a Sunday morning.�Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing�Sprit-crushing ga me shows�Stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth.
Choose rotting away at the end of it all,�Pishing you last in a miserable home�Nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish,�Fucked-up brats
You have spawned to replace yourself.�Choose your future. Choose life.
In September we had the pleasure of participating in the Centre for Human Ecology's Unbrexable conference, a day of workshops, films and discussions around Brexit and what it means for our communities near and far.
For our workshop we chose to take the following Thoreau quote as our inspiration:
"I am as desirous of being a good neighbour
as I am of being a bad subject"
We began the workshop with some light Theatre of the Oppressed games, before inviting participants to respond to a set of images, positioning themselves against a matrix of neighbourliness vs civily disobedient:
Out of this activity we drew out some interesting discussions around the inter-relationship between neighbourly acts and that which is considered civily disobedient. We began to consider 'who' were our neighbours and what acts were important to 'support them'. A discussion of the role of solidarity also emerged from this and where it sits.
We next invited participants to select images which represented actions that could be taken forward in the current context (neighbourly, civily disobedient, both/and/or) and were invited to plot these on the matrix. Out of the discussion it was clear that there is a need to neighbourly civil disobedience in the times in which we are living.
Our next activity was to use techniques from Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed, specifically the 'Cops in the Head' activity. The idea behind this activity was to promote discussion around what the barriers to acts of solidarity, neighbourliness and resistance might be in our current context and how we can effectively and collectively overcome such barriers. In order to do this 2 caminantes presented a short scene, in which a character intended to participate in a blockade, but in the end talked herself out of going. We used this brief scene to explore barriers to acting in civily disobedient ways, before experimenting with 'how' we might be able to overcome such barriers.
As ever there was not enough time to explore all the issues, challenges and possibilities that this theme raised, but we enjoyed the opportunity to begin digging around and hope that CAMINA can play a central role in nurturing neighbourly civil disobedience as we go forward...
In May we were hosted by the CCA to run an event as part of the Ideas in Intentions in Action series. We themed the event around the relationship between critical education and creative practice, focusing on the role of art and creative methods in addressing and encouraging dialogue on societal issues (problem-posing), and its instrumental potential in bringing people together to carry out social change.
The event began with speakers presenting some examples, thoughts and reflection around their own experiences of doing critical education through creative practice. We then opened the floor for other participants to share their own experiences as well as asking questions.
Our speakers were Katrin Evans of A Moments Peace Theatre company, and Alex Bowie who has worked as a freelance community arts practitioner and now works for The Art Room. Both shared some powerful insights into the tensions and opportunities posed through the work they're doing, some of which have been captured by our illustrator-in-residence, Fiona Flemming who was illustrating the whole event (see slideshow below).
Following this dialogue, we enjoyed some delicious syrian treats made by the wonderful Shivan Khalil, before inviting participants to engage in a simple "creative action", creating postcards with thoughts/questions/ideas to be shared with other practitioners in near and far places. This is part of a wider Learning as we go thread: Postcards from Practice. We will be sharing these postcards and their responses in full soon so watch this space.
The final discussion - as ever far too little time - was devoted to discussion about what support is needed for those doing this stuff to do it well - and to be well (a really poignant theme that came out of the event). This discussion and others like it is also part of CAMINA's PAR Process, and will inform how CAMINA goes forward in the coming months.
We are planning another of these events in Aberdeen in November, so watch this space for further details!
In May we linked up with Active Enquiry for their Spect-Act festival to be part of an event exploring some of the burning questions around the practice of Theatre of Oppressed today.
Here's the event write up put together by Aileen:
What do you get when you put together the medium term closure of a city’s art gallery combined with a sharp, sustained plummet in the product that keeps a city’s economy afloat? An upsurge in creativity it seems.
I’m fresh from the first Nuart festival and feel, well, refreshed.
We all know what power looks like, right? Power is a middle aged white man in a business suit. Aberdeen’s city centre tries to wear that suit. Its walls screamed this is what affluence looks like, this is power, this is a serious business. Even when the oil price plummeted and we found ourselves having to look to other sources of sustenance we desperately clung to the facade, new office blocks were still springing up above a decaying high street full of pawn shops promising pay day loans. But from scorched earth comes new growth. The urban interventions of Nuart brought a much needed costume change. The man in the business suit suddenly turned up in a sequinned dress and high heels and, “it feel fabulous darling!” it’s brought about a sudden activation of public space.
My first taste of the festival was the Fight Club a discussion inspired by Greek symposia (The format for the discussion was simple, three artists either side of a facilitator and one question, deliberately divisive - ‘what is better for the city, small scale interventions or grand stand murals?’ The polarity of the debate forces people to pick a side. As a community worker I found this interesting as, in my experience at least, it’s quite unusual to host a discussion in this way. It’s counterintuitive for me to insist that someone picks a side, to pit one against the other. Community work practices, I feel, are less inclined to encourage this dualism preferring instead to consider an issue in its whole, the end game is not to win the argument but to leave the discussion more informed and more certain of your own position. But the resultant conversation actually achieved both ends. The question was phrased this way because murals and small scale interventions are not mutually exclusive and of course the artists don’t really believe that their work was any better or worse than their colleagues but framing a discussion in such a way allows us to pretend, allowed us to play and to act, to throw all these ideas about the city into the air and see what comes down, and that environment is a safe space for dialogue.
The next day I joined Julien De Casabianca and some school children for an aspect of the Outings project. Julien and his assistant led the kids through the city searching for the perfect wall on which he can paste-up these life size figures that can usually be seen in the art gallery. An aspect of De Casabianca’s method is to visit a city’s major museums, to photograph works and to then walk the streets searching for the ideal wall on which to paste the figure. A city’s art collection belongs to everyone, the local authority may act as its conservator but the works belong to the people, and herein lies the rub, the collections are housed in spaces where the public don’t feel like they belong. Street art counters that. Part of its beauty is that it invites interaction. It reminds us that these belong to us, that we do have a stake in what is public, that we are citizens, that we can exercise our voice, that our experiences matter…When the visual experience of a city is concrete, glass, adverts and granite street art reminds us that there is an alternative, another dimension way out beyond the market and the economy. Street art widens our aesthetic lens to include culture.
On Sunday I joined a group for the Nuart walking tour. Now I’ve lived in Aberdeen a long time, more then three decades and never, in my experience of the city, have I been one of over three hundred moving together, listening togethers, sharing an experience and collectively satisfying our deeply human need to be curious, to feel inspired. It is most uncommon! We were led around the works for two hours. I was with a group of residents from Torry, an area of Aberdeen which borders the city centre. Residents of Torry are looking to regenerate their high street and we gathered together to discuss how street art and creative pursuits more widely might be a way for us to make an impact simply by enriching people’s everyday experiences of their lived environments. But this brings me to another questioning strand of discussion, street art as a moevemnt sorted as a series of illegal acts and now it’s being commissioned by the state, or at least the local authority, which is the mediator of the people and state. It’s an interesting sea-change and I wonder, by moving from the peripherals to the centre like this, what does street art stands to lose? When the product is the same does permission still matter? And are we witnessing the gentrification of a movement?
Meanwhile my head is a-whir with new ideas about how I can bring critical questioning to the streets, I do believe it is within our gift to make these walls talk.
Whats going on?
This is where we will keep you up-to-date with the project as well as sharing regular insights/findings/resources.
Check out upcoming events here: