During this month, between quarantines and restrictions, I came back to my books and to research. I really love researching, I became kinda addicted to it during university. I like diving into something that interests me, exploring every detail and dark spot, to eventually learn as much as I can. The experience at Droga Wolna is challenging me everyday. When it comes to education, I discovered myself to be intransigent. I need things to be in order, not left it to chance. I don’t believe in “living the day”, “follow the flow” as a general rule for the entire life. Chaos per se makes people lost and even more lost. I truly believe that chaos can have a shape not rigid or orthodox, but as flexible as people need to design it according to situations. Because, remind, it’s chaos which is giving birth to dancing stars, as Nietzsche says. Is it possibile to be a specialist of chaos?
Being involved in the the life of Droga Wolna made me wonder mostly about adults role. How to be a mentor in such a complex environment and time? Mentor doesn’t mean teaching kids something, because they are already specialists in being kids. I was told that the only thing adults can do is showing kids how to be adult. Kind of “living example”. Totally agreed with that, in scouting it’s the same.
But…example of what? Maybe there isn’t a definitive answer, but for now, in these hard times, I think I found mine. In the school, adults are called to be creative, dynamic, open to cooperate with kids which are the main protagonists of their learning process and actually, they are the only one aware of their own needs.
Okay, but…how to do that? I asked thousand times if mentors have specific methods to support kids. The answers were chaotic for me because I was expecting something defined (for example, Montessori method, Steiner’s one…), you know, I wanted a name and a description!
Only now, I understand how pointless was my question… The answer to all my doubts was in front of me: I realized that the key is improvisation. It is a practice that let people create something new from nothing or out of a boring context. It helps reading the present, remaining open to the future. Risks and things unexpected can be seen as growth opportunities and improvements. Improvisation is a technique and I really believe it’s not for everyone: it requires knowledge background which you can use anywhere, however you like, and, of course, authenticity. If you are not believing in what you are doing, well, people will notice it. Improvising is like giving something that you know, from your heart, using your passions and talents and also employing whatever the environment gives you: do a lot, with little! Supporting kids, improvising, means recalling knowledges, passing them through personal abilities, making the context as fun as it needs to make people happy learning together. Saying or doing something randomly is for amateurs, inspiring happily through playful mode is for specialists of chaos or “improvisers”.
This pandemic taught that world changes faster and it’s better to be prepared: being open to changes, being flexible. I like the concept of fluidity: staying fluid means that our shapes can change, depending on situations. Again, this attitude is already improvising, exploring the context, being open to multiple possibilities.
But one more thing… Being fluid doesn’t mean to lost ourselves continuously: the relationship between adaptation and authenticity is really problematic indeed. When I first arrived in Poland, I let myself adapt to this new context. I followed people observing their lifestyle. I jumped in it and I was playing with it to see if there was something that can fit me. But, eventually, the moment of conflict has come: do I have to change to be comfortable here? Do I have to agree with everything? Do I have to believe in natural medicine, instead of modern one which I truly trust, only because most of the people around me, do? Does practicing free education in the school mean that my way of learning is wrong? I spend so much time arguing with myself and people, that I didn’t see the answer which has been always under my nose. This is Droga Wolna’s biggest lesson: you have the power to disagree and still be part of a community. In my opinion, agreeing with everything is crazy and the risk is to hide yourself or even more dangerous, to model yourself on other’s lifestyle. Improvising as a way of leaving shouldn’t make you loose your true self: just be honest, have fun and disagree, if you need or want to. You can learn from people as much as they can learn from you.
Giulia from Italy, volunteer in Skoła Demokratyczna Droga Wolna in Szczecin.
Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.