„How much liberty can we express“
A report on photographs
That was the title of our workshop and like many of our ateliers the title was one of the most important elements in the planning of activities. I realize so looking at the snaps made by Shinichi Hirano (Japan). I had the idea to look back at our atelier matching the photos with the most important moving and watch on our work from another point of view. It's like a mirror that could show us some hidden aspects that involved in the work as we were, we have not caught.
The great number of participants coming from so many countries was the great resource of our atelier, and during the first session, when we noticed some boring time, we sopposed it was the reaction to the task of working with the word of liberty.
Let's begin with the analysis of the first activity that we have chosen as a kind of warming up for each day.
Write down and translate sentences or utterances concerning freedom on a big sheet of paper lying on the floor and then put them on the walls to favour the reading.
Here are three photos that can indicate our attitude, our proposals as animators and the participants' answers and the folowing interaction that in a certain way have influenced our behaviors (photos 1-2-3)
The task was given and only one of the participants began to write on the paper, while the others went on chatting and were not taking much care of our suggested task. We thought this could be the not giving the task with the right clearness. So we believed it to be better, to write down some sentences and translate others on the papers trying to involve other people on what we did.
As we can see from the photos people then were deeply invoved and a result was the writing of three or four big wall papers on each morning with a lot of sentences on the topic of freedom in many languages.
The co-operate management of the atelier
I think this is one of the most important aspects of the Freinet ateliers and as well on of the difficult ones, when Walter an me are planning a new atelier the cooperate management is one of the aspects that we try to consider as fundamental in all process, but it's not easy to develop.
In the case of this atelier we have tried at the end of each morning sessions to analyse together the dynamics and the needs of coming to a further investigation of what happened. There were several moments like this one in the seven days of work and it was not easy to manage it.
The general talking about what to do was the freedom of everybody.
Let's have a look at the photos.
the group is deeply involved, is well sat and watchful, all are trying and ready to find a solution given by one of the assembly.
The solution is still far away, one of the animateur. In the middle of the photo is going with his body towards the other people trying to find a slution in a statement situation.
But the group is not yet accessibleto go on and the hands and leg shows a closing attitude to given solutions.
The thing changed when a disapproving attitude, in a first moment repressed, came out and finanally one of the group find the way to express all her exigencies and, in spite of a provoking attitude at the beginning, it has helped the group to better understanding some utterances that hadn*t find the right place in the work done before.
Photo n. 7: the group accepts the provocation, feels a little better and relieved,
The Forum Theatre
photo n. 8 - In my opinion the activity of the Forum Theatre can be considered as the turning point of all our works done at the atelier. Till then working and facing words of liberty brought to a crescendo of feeling and refection that we are going from the post most personal point of view to the relationship of the other personal and collective idea of liberty and all has to developed in a very softly and quiet way as each one was walking silently in some unknown paths to discover new horizons.
But we expected that a certain time conflicts will arise and that was stimulated by the Forum Theatre.
As in this kind of theatre people have to act in the shown situation to try to solve the conflicts.it was almost natural that the hidden conflicts suddenly will come out and show all its evidence.
That was the case when we performed the situation there in RIDEF about the missunderstanding of the languages and communications in many of the public assemblies and at the same time the role played and lived by the Polish member of the Freinet movement.
As we can see in the photo attention und concentration were at their climax. People began
to involve themselves deeply in the situation.
At that moment came the explosion of conflicts when one of the Polish girls expressed all
her deep sufference for the stuation that was her living there.
As the problem was tried to be solved in a typical way o Forum Theatre by the action of one
spectator who became an actor, it encouraged the coming out of the different perceptions of
the ideas of liberty.
Photo n 10 shows the end of the process of trying to solve the problem: to live, also if only for a performance of troubles that others are living , mayoffer us the conciousness of the status we have to face in other different countries and consequently way of living.
The group is now more relaxed and can go easily to the planning of the final performance.
The final performance and the evaluation
At last the final task had arrived all the group together had to decide on modalties of final performance.
We did so, and looked back to all the things done together and tried to choose the most meaningful and at the same time we have tried an evaluation of our atelier.
It was difficult at the beginning to find an activity for everyone and then we had to do, in a circle-time, a sort of flashlight as Walter as well described in his article, in order to arrive to a final decision with the feeling of not having oppressed any minority.
As the photo n. 11 well shows all the group has taken in the final performance to show the most important steps of the work done and in the atelier and the main achievment.
Everyone holds the other ones forming an imagenary circle and the hands up attest the created feeling of unity and identity and to give a shape to the sentiment of belonging that is in each one.
Looking back at our atelier withnthe medium of photos and trying to match them with our activities has given me the chance to focus some of the non verbal behavoir that often escapes with a more superficial view.
I 'm convinced that a more careful attention to the non verbal behavior can give a better perception and cnnciousness of how people are living the circumstances in this atelier where we had to face many languages and different cultures, maybe the non verbal behavior were a little stressed and everyone has tried to give his best of information in short meaningful sentences and to use other ways of expressing feelings or emotions; probably this is the reason wha the photos are so significent. Maybe it's another way of watching our work, but I like to end these notes again with words that collect the feelings lived in that atmosphere of searching freedom.
Words in the water
Three swans on the water
drawing circles of thoughts
looking through them
hidden colours arouse.
They shaped nature
of people there living
remind me of these pictures
and sounds of feelings
„Give me your hand
Give me your blanket
Give me your smile
Give me the feeling of being taken ...“
„look at me … touch my belt
look at me … catch my stick
look at me … put on my bandage
look at me … when taking my chain“
So that claims to freedom
dancing with the stream
slipped in to a river
searching a new way
in the clear water.
Marta and me worked together in this atelier in Crakow, Poland „How much freedom can we express“?“ Before we worked together in Vila Vicosa, Portugal about „My body talks“. We prepared together „Masqavant“, which Marta did in Spain. We twice made seminars in Naples, Italy with groups of teachers on Teaching English and in a school. Marta visied me and i visited her. We still, after 30 years - in 2022 - write emails.