In the Peru of the bicentenary, new challenges are opening up and, in this sense, it is a new historical moment where rethinking education is a necessity for those of us who aspire to overcome violence. We know that the Humanist Universalist Pedagogical Current in Peru has been validating in recent years an educational proposal based on the pedagogy of intentionality. We spoke to Jaqueline Mera Alegria, coordinator of COPEHU – Peru to find out what they have found and what the current proposes for public schools in order to face this challenge of overcoming violence and how education can help in this. Writes Doris Balvín
Is it possible to generate nonviolent educational spaces in public schools?
Indeed, the Universalist Humanist Pedagogical Current (COPEHU) in the study developed between 2013 and 2019 under the hypothesis that it is possible to generate nonviolent learning spaces in public schools by applying the pedagogy of intentionality approach concludes that it is possible. Here I will stop for a moment to tell you what this pedagogy and experiential methodology consists of, on the basis of which the “Guide for peace and nonviolence from an experiential methodology” has been published.
COPEHU as a pedagogical movement is inspired by the Universalist Humanism of Silo. In terms of education, this thinking is translated into the Pedagogy of Intentionality, developed in Chile by Mario Aguilar and Rebeca Bize, and includes the progressive contributions of Vygotsky, Freyre, Maturana, neuroscience, phenomenology, existentialism, among others. Contributions to a theory and practice of intentional learning, and in the field, studies carried out by the Copehu teams from 2012 onwards.
How does the so-called pedagogy of intentionality differ from other alternative pedagogies?
This pedagogical proposal assumes the human being as an intentional being; it considers that human consciousness is active and therefore human beings are builders and transformers of realities. It takes into account the functioning of the human psyche in learning. It considers play as a key device in learning (e.g., I cannot direct my interest if I have blocked the emotional center or if I need to move to allow energy to rise to the intellectual center). It assumes that spirituality is part of integral learning and is substantial in the construction of a nonviolent society. It has as its basic tools the keys to learning that enable the intangibles for nonviolent learning to express itself (good humor, atmosphere, relaxed attention, affectivity and intergenerational dialogue). It has an explicit commitment to peace and nonviolence as a way of life and considers that the educator accompanies and enables learning by providing a reference of coherence.
What was the validation of the methodology developed by COPEHU in Peru?
COPEHU – Peru developed various interventions in schools with students and educators between 2013 and 2019 with the aim of validating the methodological proposal in public schools. It was implemented in three types of intervention modalities: 1) the Integral modality; 2) the Human Development workshop for Tutoring; and 3) the transversal modality through the Teacher Training Program in pedagogy of intentionality.
In these three modalities, three blocks of experience are developed: psychophysical, internal experience and self-learning. What varies is the way of approaching the experience. In the case of the integral modality, the three blocks of experience are developed and preferably work with multi-grade groups in a full day. In the tutorial workshop, a central theme is taken as the guiding thread and the experience is based on this; and in the transversal modality – that is, intervention through the teachers of any area – the tools provided by the pedagogy are used depending on the needs of the students; if there is a need for relaxation, a request, an integration game, etc. The application of the 5 keys to learning proposed by Aguilar and Bize: attention, atmosphere, good humor, affectivity, generational dialogue, which are the intangibles that the educator must permanently attend to, can be integrated at any time during the session that the educator considers appropriate.
What discoveries did you make during the application of the pedagogy?
The new generations are ready and in need of pedagogies that value their intentionality. We have been able to appreciate in the students very varied indicators, for example, how the game allows the motor discharge, the emotional contact harmonizing their response centers which is the basis of all learning; how they are enabling their intentionality and potentialities, motivated by self-learning; how they are showing emotional openness with themselves and/or with the group; how they are making contact with their inner world, turning this learning into a tool in their daily life. We were also able to appreciate the progressive reduction of violence by recording relaxation states and simple internalization techniques and how they were enabled in self-regulation and in the taste for learning and investigating, the latter could be appreciated in the development of the integral modality in multi-grade groups.
And in the case of the educators, what discoveries or insights did they come to?
It was very nice to see how the educators reconnected with their mission. They were enabled in the relaxed attention, the register and importance of the atmosphere and good humor; in the affectivity with themselves and with their areas of relationship; in the generational dialogue, with a look of valuation and complementation; and in the methodology of active nonviolence. They incorporated contact with their inner world and personal development as a tool in their daily lives.
What conclusions did you draw from this action-research?
It was very important to consolidate a base team qualified in the tools of the Pedagogy of Intentionality that could follow the whole process. That the role of the educator is key, as he/she is the one who gives reference, enables and sustains the environments and therefore, it is important that the educator goes through the experience of intentional learning so that he/she can transmit it. Another key aspect is the formation of environments that are welcoming so that the experience of intentional learning is expressed and sustained over time; and that the pedagogical proposal can be rethought, attending to the needs of the group, as this is modelled according to the type of intervention that is carried out.
The experience of implementing COPEHU-Peru in public schools shows that the new generations are sensitive to the pedagogical approach. Difficulties were encountered in the structure of today’s schools and society, which limit and pigeonhole the role of educators and in the education system, which still projects a vertical relationship in the school.
After the validation of the methodology, the “Guide for Peace and Nonviolence from an experiential methodology” was developed and published, which arose as a need to provide tools for internalization in the current school environment and can be applied in the virtual space.
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