Eybar Insuasty Alvarado describes a Colombian educational programme with a particular approach. This is a vision of another world which people can create together: a world where it is not only economics that matters but where people can realize their cultural and social ideas and dreams in an unspoilt environment. The author is on the staff of the IIZ/DVV Colombian partner organization “Asociación para el Desarrollo Campesino” and Area Coordinator Organization and Management Good Local Living.
“Unless we know one another we cannot love or protect one another.”
In order to describe the School and its role in the community development of the south-west of Colombia, we need to explain that a “disoñador” is a person who dares in his or her everyday life to look for the creative possibilities of life and the world. A disoñador is a realizer of dreams, that is to say, someone who uses his or her abilities to bring about what we dream of. We disoñadores are all convinced, wherever we live, that other worlds are possible, and we are committed to building them together.
Good local living is the utopia that can be created, the place that we are building day by day where our dreams can come true, where we are together making it possible to satisfy all our basic needs – where food can be cultivated for both body and mind, where we raise typical native animals such as chickens, pigs and cattle, and where we conserve the countryside so that it grows green again and provides us with potatoes, onions, yuccas and mulberries. In short, it is our larder, but it is also a place where we see the growth of affection, tenderness, solidarity, friendship, and where we seek to be happy with our own especial way of living and doing, in harmony with what we have wherever we may be.
It was an obvious, palpable challenge to create the School for Disoñadores for Good Local Living. Not only have we become disoñadores, turning into makers of our own local good living, but it also gives us the opportunity to develop further. An alternative view of education provides us with our framework, or rather our liberation, in the sense that it offers us new choices, so that we can face life with new tools of reflection and forward-looking visions of society, politics and education itself. Leisure is given its appropriate place, in which to glimpse the best ideas. The School is a place to itself, which acknowledges former ancestral knowledge, combining it with what is told by others to create a new discourse, leading ultimately towards coherence and commitment. This process has become a major project, aiming ever higher in its achievements, learning, experience and encounters and leading to continual revision through periodic meetings of all those who are part of it, meetings that open up new directions in which ideas and encounters govern what emerges.
The School for Disoñadores, which is associated with the purpose, utopianism and principles of the Association for Rural Development (ADC), makes space for what is possible, where we begin the creation process with what is uncertain, absurd and risky, and it also encourages us to listen to the silence so that we take in what no one has yet said and start from what we feel.
The area of work of ADC concerned with “Management for Good Local Living” aims at involving the grassroots in the administration, planning, organization, monitoring and evaluation of activities. Training has been given in social rights, political education and civic participation in the communities of La Cocha, Yacuanquer, Chachagüí, Buesaco and Pasto.
Education is needed if the community is to be able to go on creating Good Local Living freely, a concept which places the emphasis on the continuous construction of life rather than accumulation: education understood as the “Ascent of Humanity” and the enrichment of the critical, creative mind. The keynote is the finding that the formal education offered in official schools demonstrates various shortcomings. The dream of an education with autonomous learners and communities capable of creating human destinies through learning, which interprets and enriches events with the aid of local histories, has remained the constant challenge. This means that having learnt by going back over the past and noting the gaps in normal provision, it becomes necessary to resort to the imagination to strengthen the “School for Disoñadores for Good Local Living”.
Our criteria for learning at the School are:
The School sets out to provide a place where we can find the basic knowledge and skills to become the builders of our own worlds.
The School therefore supports the Disoñadores for Good Local Living with the aim of:
Creating an educational process that uses reflection on issues affecting our lives to enable rural cooperative groupings (“mingas” ) and their associated families to act to build their own realities and dreams, enhancing present and future Good Local Living that is based on rural identity, solidarity, autonomy and respect for diversity.
The methodology results from the fact that the School is not a formal educational institution. In the School for Disoñadores, freedom is the watchword: there is no place for dogmatism, and teaching is an exercise which gives up its power but gains in effectiveness. Priority is given to enquiry in the learning process, and recognition is given to the worth of learners’ own thinking and their responsibility for their commitment; we are supported by the local research group, which enables us to revisit and to encounter new knowledge and to test it creatively in our daily lives.
Encouraging Disoñadores therefore involves:
As topics are explored, a workshop methodology makes it possible:
“More important than the journey are the footsteps which make the journey.
A fuerza de Huella”
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