Our Teaching Artist Lindsey Samples is working on her M.Ed. in Youth Development Leadership at the University of Minnesota. In one of her classes, “Performance and Social Change,” she’s currently reading Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Lindsey shared with us a short reflection that she wrote for class, connecting the reading to her work with Upstream Arts. It’s incredibly powerful, rich food for thought as we transition to autumn and begin this new school year; so with Lindsey’s kind permission, we share it with you here.
I teach for Upstream Arts, whose programming teaches youth and adults with disabilities social and communication skills through the arts, and we start each class with 3 “Guidelines for Good Graces.” These 3 “rules” are there to create a safe space for participants to play. After the first two (1. Raise your hand, and 2. Respect) the third one is Risk. The idea of taking a risk, trying something new, is imparative to jumping into our theatre games and activities. Freire refers to taking a risk as defending one’s freedom. Wow. That’s huge. In the context of Upstream Arts classes we are teaching our participants to advocate for themselves, to make their own choices, and certainly exercise their freedom. In advocating for the arts’ place in maintaining a sense of freedom – yes, we are teaching people to think for themselves, step out into the unknown with their thoughts and feelings on their own existence and defend that, take pride in that. This comment from Freire has truly resonated with me as I go into my week of teaching students to take risks, defend their freedom.