Paolo Freire, the Brazilian educator and author, in his “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” says “People develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves. They come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation.”
I personally find that this idea of a teacher or a facilitator not presenting something finished but instead inviting people to join this always on-going and evolving process, is one of the reasons I feel constantly challenged and motivated in this field. Regardless of the amount of knowledge one has, academic as well as experiential, one is always working towards something, and that any session or workshop I am facilitating or am a part of should ideally embody this attitude of being dynamic, even after we’ve achieved our set goals.
During lockdown, I chanced upon the wondrous opportunity of working with a handful of other people who are now called Aagaaz Facilitators (on whatsapp) who feel similarly, and actually so much more that their levels of feelings are now aspirational for me, and suddenly I feel a sense of home, of validation and solidarity that I haven’t felt for really long now.
Each week we meet, we dig deep into our dreams and find pieces to share with each other and synchronously reflect together. While most of the team has been working together for years, some of us are about a month old in this new set up, and yet the process that has been entirely democratic, has skillfully tied us all together in ways that we can’t even see yet.
This week, we discussed who a facilitator is, what are the qualities one aspires to have as a facilitator. We remembered people in our experiences, and reimagined things about them and then reflected thoroughly on how we work with this concept of facilitating.
In my head, the facilitator was merely a catalyst that enters an on-going chemical reaction between different thoughts and ideas and culminates in a product. But I started realising that we actually never leave this reaction unchanged, do we? We end up becoming a part of this reaction (only if we allow for this to happen of course), sometimes without even knowing we emerge a little different from our earlier selves.
So how do we BE ourselves and yet find ways to allow ourselves to change, how we give to the process as well as take from it? When do we learn to stop apologising (or apologise lesser) for things that are not in our hands, for things that are not our fault and yet are things that we feel somehow responsible and apologetic for. How do we create spaces for exploration and exchange while ensuring the process continues even after we remove ourselves from it? How do we find the perfect balance of pride in our work, and humility?
Somewhere this chain of questions led me back to the idea of a “reality in transformation”, and once I embrace that, all these questions turn from niggling doubts to empowering assertions, assertions that will ideally remain interrogative in some way for a long time to come.
Subhadra aka Subu is a musician, theatre practitioner and facilitator, who has been working with young people using music and theatre (and whatever else she can lay her hands on) for the past decade or so. She eats and sleeps like a monster and loves cats and dogs and birds and other such cute creatures.
Illustrations by Devika