I've read through your posts with great interest, contemplating the emerging themes. I feel so interested and honored to be part of this learning community.
The issue of Violence has come up several times as we’ve talked about possible themes on which to base curriculum. I think that we all agree that violence in our communities is a major issue facing many students, families, and teachers.
As a dialogical educator, I find that the first formulations of a theme often aren't sufficient to generate truly productive dialogue. Paulo Freire used the term "generative themes" because in dialogical education teachers and students come together to make something.
The theme and resulting dialogue (often art making in our work) are generative because they make something and they make something happen. Freire terms this making in dialogue a "new naming." To name the world, to interpret and understand it, is to change the world because we now see it differently and this creates new possibilities for reflection and action.
A theme exercise such as the one we did in the first and follow up Spaces of Possibility workshop is a way to open an initial conversation, to signal to students that you as a teacher are committed to creating spaces in which students’ ideas, interests and concerns are relevant and welcome. However, developing and strengthening these spaces of possibility within the curriculum will take time. Teachers and students can’t grant each other TRUST a priori. Trust in this work is built through working together.
The problem with focusing on violence or crime may be that it doesn't necessarily create the possibility of a new naming of experience.
Teachers talked about reasons why talking about violence doesn't seem possible--including that in places where violence is endemic, neither students nor teachers can feel safe to have these discussions.
Art allows us to reframe experience in a way that supports conceptual, perceptual, emotional movement for makers, participants, and viewers.
Profound change begins with slight shifts, with altered reverberations, unsettling moments that become altered spaces for reflection and action.
In highly emotionally charged situations, I believe that it is the work of the dialogical artist educator to find a place and to initiate a practice/process that generates fresh visualizations.
As I’m writing this I am thinking of the challenge of visualizing “non violence,” too often this is described only as an absence, of what is not happening, not what is or may come into being.
A phrase that keeps recurring in my mind is a Surrealist juxtaposition:
Could an artistic investigation begin with creating a series of such juxtapositions and then explore these new (perhaps quirky and sometimes nonsensical) metaphors through various media?
What new images of possibility might emerge?