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Educação & Realidade

versão impressa ISSN 0100-3143versão On-line ISSN 2175-6236

Educ. Real. vol.44 no.3 Porto Alegre  2019  Epub 30-Set-2019 


Towards a Tropical Education: ideas about sociocultural animators formation

Javier Orlando Lozano EscobarI  II

IUniversidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL), Bogotá - Colombia

IIUniversidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), Barcelona - Spain


As cultural management discovers its most communitarian dimension near to Latin American popular Education, the studies on the popular fests and the carnival takes on meaning not only as intangible heritage, but as places for the development of cultural and communicative competences to be included in the profile of cultural managers. I recover the experience of a course on Sociocultural animation - part of an undergraduate course on cultural management. It suggests ways to promote cultural changes that far from disseminate norms and folklorize the diversity, contribute to the survival of peoples that can determine or influence their own destiny, creating it - even though symbolically - again.

Keywords: Cultural Management; Fests Studies; Popular Education; Cultural Agency; Socio-cultural Animation


Conforme la gestión cultural descubre su dimensión más comunitaria en las cercanías de la educación popular latinoamericana, los estudios sobre la fiesta y el carnaval cobran sentido no solo como patrimonio inmaterial, sino como lugares para el desarrollo de competencias culturales y comunicativas a ser incluidas en el perfil de los gestores culturales. Recupero la experiencia de la asignatura Animación sociocultural, impartida a futuros gestores culturales en la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, sugiriendo caminos a seguir para impulsar cambios culturales que lejos diseminar las normas y folclorizar la diversidad, contribuyan a la pervivencia de pueblos que pueden determinar o incidir en su propio destino, creándolo - incluso también simbólicamente - de nuevo.

Palabras-clave: Gestión Cultural; Estudios de la Fiesta; Educación Popular; Agenciamiento Cultural; Animación Sociocultural

The body day, when Krosty was helping me to prepare some very special “arepitas” (diminutive of local type of corn flat cake) -they was penus-shaped, boob-shaped, etc-. Their dedication and carenes while making a vagina and highlighting its clitoris: the problems with corn flour and oil... Then, seeing at my aunt and my mother, between laughing-to-die and being sidekicks. I ask my auntie if she wants penus or boobie and she says, with a funny laughing: penus!, she takes it to her mouth, everybody laugh and make double meaning comments. And Krosty, in the kitchen, a bit sad because the piece of friying flour that shaped the clitoris was always cut and detached from that kind of fried bread, flouting and jumping into the oil and oil-bubbles surrounding it, while sounding. It was a clitoris that sounded weeshshshshshshshsssseeseeseeseeseee (Barragán, 2007, personal e-mail).

It is becoming each time more often to find movements, institutions and dioceses where many youth groups meet […] it is still valid the question that many youth centres, dioceses and organizations make: how to attend that so diverse variety of groups, without making them to lose their originality and falling down into the chaos? How to achieve a level of unity avoiding the danger of impossing an uniformity that youth rejects? (Londoño, 1995, p. 9).

From a critical perspective, coming from youth groups, pastoral neighborhood processes and rural Latinamerican organizations, these quotes show two sides of the formation: 1) an aesthetic side with a tendence to the carnival disruption, and 2) a political side, commonly related to social utopies. Here, I want to explain about some transformations that, since the decade of 1990, are happening in Colombia (possibly also in other Latinamerican countries) among two types of context: 1) low-class urban environments, where cultural agency of neighbors and their organizations had processes that must be researched up to (or down to) the early 1970´s, and 2) rural areas, where the indigenous emergent educational systems (properly named “educación propia”1: our own education) are consolidating themselves, having the effect of much youth and peasant youth jumping from the land into the university system, entering to urban scenes to press for the recovering and enforcement of ancestors tradition and wisdom. These ideas, which I share as a participant, witness, popular educator, community learning facilitator and empirical cultural manager, are settling down to say something about intercultural and transcultural citizen education, as well as the emergent curricula of cultural management, and also for the presence of sociocultural animators formation related to it in several Latinamerican universities.

Many cultural neighborhood organizations emerged towards the end of XXth century warm-covered by the preferential option for the poor and the youth that was cultivated in certain sectors of Latinamerican catholic church, as it can be followed through episcopal conferences of Medellín (CELAM, 1968) and Puebla (CELAM, 1978). However, the dominant sector and its religious communities embraced a development theology, while liberation theology, although reaching some strenght, it was not enough to generate bigger changes or to make the leaders take transcendental decisions and was becoming less visible after the start of new century, maybe because of the ending of “real socialism” and the uneasiness that it meant for the left political wing all over the world, but specially in Latinamerica (Dussel, 1986).

In Bogotá, among many institutional initiatives for the youth animators formation, we can highlight the Curso de animadores juveniles from the Casa de la Juventud, well known as CAJ (a beginners version was called CAJITOS). This highlighting is because of the political sense that accompanied pastoral practices. There, Alejandro Londoño and his collagues formative proposal configures the idea of “formation plan” (plan de formación), which was used to begin by the interior self-knowledge and next interpersonal relations, for continuing with the enforcement of the group and ends in reality analysis and critical consciousness of the society. They grew up also the disposition of participants to make a commitment with the transformation of it (Londoño, 1995; Londoño, 1985).

Formal education generated sometimes appendixes or prolongations that gave strength to it and legitimated it with its attempts and discourse for an integral education. This was the case, since several decades before the physical education entered into the Colombian educational system and also before the processes of formation on recreation. Researchers on leisure, as Esperanza Osorio and Ricardo Lema Álvarez have described these early attempts from Funlibre experience -an institution what trained several generations of recreators-, in Colombia (Osorio, 2008), and from an initiative for training secondary students in 40 Montevidean schools, in Uruguay. Both cases were focusing on prepare youth to participate in volunteer programs. Uruguayan case is more flexible though it has to adapt to each institution times. It starts in third year of secondary stage, having a weekly time that serve to enforce the group cohesion, giving pedagogical elements and co-management of proposals. In fourth year, formation is addressed towards the exterior world of the groups, though still inside the school, through volunteering. Both years there are outbound leisure training activities following the groups processes (Lema Álvarez, 2016).

I remember also, in the Colombian context, the scout groups which appeared in some schools, as well as specific national programs related to Ministry of Education assignments given to every secondary institution to prepare older students for life and being a kind of initial civil service, like “vigías de la salud” (taking care of health of urban or rural neighborhoods), “vigías del patrimonio” (taking care of and making conscience on historical heritage), and alphabetization practices what precede all of these as early as in the 1980’s. Scout groups are not compulsory in formal education, although in some schools they become strong and consequently institutions get used to give them support. While vigías and alphabetization programs where compulsory for every student before getting their high school diploma, having regulated a specific number of hours that must be certificated by non-profit organizations. There are also pastoral programs and social-orientated projects commonly promoted by confessional schools. The institutional initiatives for the integral formation from any concept or practice that stimulate the leadership on youth are very diverse.

There is something that deserves to be explained about some institutions that experimented a strong expansion from the end of welfare policies -in the 80’s and 90’s- and whose antecedents can be followed from the XIX century until current days. Experiences on these institutions seems to configure new concepts and practices on education, having new influences and interdependences what are also increasing in local and regional contexts. These are volunteering organizations, which I will refer as educational volunteering non-governmental organizations.

Philosophically as well as from a functionalistic perspective, the fact of roussounianly thinking formative processes on these organizations makes sense. The preference for the experience instead of precooked theories, the sequential organization of the experiences to facilitate the learning, the virtue formation that comes from experience with nature and the others, and finally the trust on the fact that association with other person can allow us to undertake major tasks of general benefit are themes already clear on this philosophy and they are also with more details in Pestalozzi’s work. Today we find from small independent NGOs up to big ones, like Green Peace, Survival, Oxfam, Ayuda en Acción, even masonic logias, lion clubs, youth wings of communist parties, grey ladies… which, in different territories and from a long time ago, proposed themselves tasks that the States have not yet ended to fully accomplish. Sometimes such works are directly correlated to enlightened rationalism, some other times they are public benefit initiatives that are linked to the charitable perspective of social action, which was dominant until the beginnings of industrial modernity, and which has lost a bit of its influence with the path of independent social and educational voluntariness. About recent times, in Latinamerica it can be observed an increase of youth groups into the protestant and evangelic -or christian- churches, not only in long tradition ones but also in emergent new churches. These can be appointed as charitable initiatives, but they open to a wider range of concepts like self-helping speeches and training, sometimes related to pyramidal or multilevel business systems, which constitutes a rational economical proposal. Into these new scenes on the world of no-formal educational offers, there are notable coincidences that someone more must research, although it is needed to be clear about they are nor proposing neither showing alternative models of society, but more rightly they seem like accommodating with the current capitalist market and consumption society.

The hatching of alternative offer on the self-knowledge is often getting closer to esoteric practices, which have reached certain social importance, although also debates. We can stand a relation with a variety of ways like yoga, tai-chi, zen meditation, temazcal or inhipi experience, capoeira dance, yage or ayahuasca ceremony and much more2. About these new trends and practices, Robert Castel said 40 years ago that they constitute a symptom of risk management, and also symptom of management of human vulnerability (Castel, 1984). When we make the relation between some ethnic practices that arrives to the cities as something exotic, what is its symbolic capital, influencing also on its dissemination among leisure consumption economy, we are pointing at the fact that if this happened in Castel’s 80’s Europe, it get a different color and extension when we think it from origin countries of these practices, where origin communities and peoples live, as proper owners of those knowledges, educational styles and healing procedures related to them. It forces us to problematize the ethnic educations which Colombian anthropologist called ethnoeducation, at the same time that indigenous leaders and peoples are calling educación propia (our own education), and also when the Ministry of Culture -following UNESCO global policies- declares them as non-material culture heritage, giving a way for their institutional protection. All these approaches make difficult to indicate a clear educative -or educational- practice that commit the social animation and popular education. Several possibilities of relation between these elements have been already postulated during the X Meeting for the Promotion and Difusion of Non-material Heritage in Iberoamerican Countries, which shows that patrimonialization processes occult some educative perspective what goes further the school. It is even clearer in south countries, where rituals are being re-meant, sometimes in an intentionally way from their proper characters, and where they are transforming into fests that are marketing a kind of indigenous, origins or ancestors substance, and their territory (Amodio, 2009). Currently, due to indigenous organizations achievements on colombian policies, and also UNESCO’s influence, it was stablished the government obligation to make Indigenous Language and Culture Saveguard Plan. Indigenous authorities from each reserve must be convocated, using public resources and budget, to construct themselves with advisory and commitment of the government to bring it to a complete realization. About the idea of Formation Plan on Indigenous Own Education, they being a variety in Colombia of 102 ethnical groups, a complete systematization became very difficult. Some of them, with major population, most of them in Andes region, did already safeguard plans and linked it to what they call “planes de vida” (Life Plans), concept that emerged as an alternative to development plan. An interesting thing for us, as a part of popular education movement, is that it suggests a neighborhood or similarity relation with the notion “proyecto de vida” (Life Project), what was very frequent in pastoral catholic terminology during the decade of 1980. However, these Life Plans are community plans and engage the whole community, in a sense that remembers German Paul Natorp’s philosophy:

The man only became a man through the human community [...] regarding everything that makes him a man, it does not present itself from the beginning as an individual particular, to entering later within the other in a community, but without this community he can’t be in anyway a man (Natorp, 1990, p. 169).

It must be cleared that the confirmation of a communitarian life, with the participation of everyone, which can be seen in the annual assemblies where the whole indigenous communities in each reserve are invited to make the local policies for the Indigenous Own System Education3, generating the annual educative project, do not generate necessarily practices so different to formal education. The interest to remark a difference in content, name of subjects and a major quantity of practices and outbound activities is clearly visible, it is easier than in the city since indigenous peoples are commonly on the land. Possibly the perception of outbound activities could not be as external to the school, but internal to the community, being every adult responsible in a global systemic sense4.

Disruption and Communitas in and against the Formation Plan

Coming back to the quotes that started our writing, disruptive actions has a main place on the grops formation processes and sociocultural animation. The experience that shaped myself as an educator and theater animator more than 20 years ago, in a Bogota’s south peripherical neighborhood, deeded in the warmth of processes influenced by youth catholic pastoral formation (Alonso; Lozano; Puche, 2005), had on their margins a disruptive experience. What was necessary to happen for a youngsters group from a pastoral process agence a disruptive, iconoclastic and challenging proposal in front of catholic and christian tradition? How to classify the educational aspects of this experience? Which concept can allow us to cover formative proposals so much opposed and at the same time so much close to each other? Why it cost so much to me to think this integration?

To answer the first question, following the classic study about popular fests and medieval and renaissance carnivals, from Mijaíl Bajtín (1990 [1973]), it was not even necessary that it happened something. The seed of transformations was already there, in the diversity of languages, due to its incitation to creativity, due to challenging style of characters, fests and rituals which constitutes a second life for the medieval human being, it means the carnival life, with its irony and comic, burlesque, acute laugh, for what neither abuses of power neither the power itself pass unscathed, and whose mission is to make the land fruitful, to fertilize it to be fruitful again, following a balance logic in accordance with ancestors spirituality, from each time more visible indigenous peoples, at the same time exposing themselves to new risks and getting better conditions to have influence over us.

For the colombian case, Gloria Triana (1986) made the first conceptual explanations 30 years ago. She showed how the Bajtin’s concepts were easy able to what we can find in cultural expressions of peoples in rural areas of Colombia. She developed the concept of popular culture as one oral, diverse, heterogeneous and vital. During the decade of 1990, various authors advanced in the comprehension of popular culture, expressing it in plural, and including in it the atavistic quality of it, which became also massive and mass mediatic (Martín Barbero, 1994). These aproximations were useful for our understanding about the formation of Latinoamerican urban idnetity (Rowe; Schelling, 1993), but they are no writed to facilitate the understanding of educational processes. It is possible, however, to force our interpretation of it, for instance, from the suggestions of Javier Saenz’s writing on misconfidence dispositives for the citizen formation in the final stage of XXth century in Bogota (we follow it later). A second example fits better than Saenz’s: it is in the academic production from Jose Luis Molina on children internship regimen history, which is inspired on the Foucault’s genealogy of surveillance institutions.

Going ahead with a more concrete exemple, I can tell something about the Cultural Expression Center - called CEC - of Fe y Alegría movement, a pastoral and arts formation experience that started in 1988 and flourished during the 90’s. On the margins of this, it occurred a parody of popular religious ritual known as Christmas Novena5. The CEC made events regularly to show the result of arts formation processes, at least two or three every year. Since 1996, a new style of youngsters entered into these celebrating spaces. At that moment, most of the youth was coming from a kind of parish neighborhood style, formed in pastoral processes and catechesis, not contravening norms or calling aggressively the attention of society. As a result of this opening of the scope, the institution opened also to some more challenging artists and youngsters than it was used to be before, some of them came from the urban cultures like hip-hop, which had specific projects starting at the same time. Consequently, the proposal and creation of a challenging ritual became something attractive, as breaking the routine of the institution and giving space to some themes that more advanced students have known in their universities, like Bajtin’s approaches to the fests and popular culture. The alternative novena appears to have some similarities with other group activities, but those academic contents make an original contribution, even practical, like the three ceremonial brays as a password to open the door and enter, as well as to begin and end the ritual. Similarly, as it happens with other symbols and proposals of representing Franciscan poorness, medieval signs result being at the same time transgressive and institutional, what allows sometimes to establish this activity as a heresy game, without constituting itself a breaking off with the catholic church, though it is not what this youngsters looked for with this exercise. Such a mark of heresy ritual can be noticed at the name itself of the novena: Jesús nace feo (Jesus is born ugly)

Oh Jesús! What ugly you are!

Your skin is not yellow and delicate

as that from the kids in the publicity,

but red and fully of bruises.

Mary suffered so much to giving birth to you

How much she cried! How much she moaned!

As if the whole Universe were coming out from her vagina.

Joseph, your father, never saw before what an ugly child as you.

His face contracted in a gesture of paternalistic terror

And he thought about running

Or he had preferred that your mother had an abortion

For not to have to pass that a shame (fragment of Jesús nace feo, 1999).

A more detailed explanation on the sense and contribution or usefulness of this activity for this institution must appeal to the structural anthropology of second half of XXth century. Approaches such as El poder en escenas (Balandier, 1990) or The ritual process (Turner, 1969) show that inversion of status rituals are a liberation mechanism for structural conflicts to be relieved. This means that carnival, the charivari rebellion from premodern Italy (Burke, 1990), and other fests that ironize with power, have an ideological dimension that contributes to keep the social order. However, they can give sometimes guidance to small revolutions in which the power changes its characters, and occasionally generate or contribute to structural changes. If characters understood this, it could be a path to an utopic dimension from these fests and rituals. The possible overlapping of this reflection into the reality could bring us up to some kind of disruptive education what, in its breakings off, give host to day-time dreams, utopia dreams, though this utopia, given the dominant discourse of critic consciousness in this context of youth formation, can address towards aesthetical trends, challenging the establishment on themes like sexuality, creativity and heresy. The first theme is proposed by the “arepitas” joking with sexual organs, creativity is generated by being transgressive on taking non-beautiful materials but rough ones like cow and chicken entrails, the heretical challenge comes from the details taken from bajtinian literature. All of this, during nine days, while other houses celebrated the traditional Chirstmas Novena, and trying to keep the structure of the common ritual for recognizing of it a parody of the official one.

In this ambivalence and contradiction of these ritual proposals, which can be put in favor of friends or enemies according to the circumstances of the field of forces where we can find ourselves, it gets clear that at least, a new and challenging practice contributes with movement, dynamism. On the permanence or maintenance, we learn to live with others on established rules. On the subversion of norms and codes, we make discoveries, we dream and encourage reforms or revolutions what seem like convenient for everyone, even those who have the power, prisoners themselves in the rigidity of their roles. We must remember that during medieval stage not only people participated in popular fests, but clergy people disguise themselves, or they mingled in the crowd, though they also lived within contradictions, and identifying with the anonym equality of the rabble they have the sensation of being part of the same community, but at the same time it masked their true power which rule over the rest of the people all the lasting days of the year (Bajtín, 1990 [1973]).

In the face of pessimism from those dreamers who pointed at other possible world but keep complaining of having risk of losing everything against globalization trends, which emanate from economic and technological unequal power, we have the perspective of showing how rituals and popular fests preserve irreducible wisdom that are not going to be destroyed, even there were much “unique thinking”. This irreducible something emanates from popular cultures, from others memory and perspective and from further than exclusion zones. Then, we must acutely see the reality, laughing at it, ridiculing powerful people, ironizing about our problems and contradictions, unveiling to leave nude the games and traps of power, playing, making fun and animating everybody to participate in this rituals and other new ones which are still to be invented.

To think now the educative side of iconoclastic rituals and other disruptive actions are going to move us towards the structure, the rigidity, in our case conformed not only by the institutions and its hierarchies, but also by symbols that encourage it and prepare participants for the institutional life, for its enrichment and the increasing of consciousness of participants. This has been explained with details and evidences from different places and history all over the world in Turner’s The ritual process.

It is as though there are here two major ‘models’ for human interrelatedness, juxtaposed and alternating. The first is of society as a structured, differentiated, and often hierarquical system of politico-legal-economic positions with many types of evaluation, separating men in terms of “more” or “less”. The second, which emerges recognizably in the lyminal period, is of society as an unstructured or rudimentarily structured and relatively undifferentiated comitatus, community, or even communion or equal individuals who submit together to the general authority of the ritual elders. (Turner, 1969, p. 96).

All of this is to justify the entrance of disruption and communitas rituals into the formation planning: a practical idea that has been used to name the planning document or educative project for a non-formal growing process of a group. It has been used to pass by activities such as common meetings, visits to symbolic or religious places, workshops, art rehearsals, raffles, crafts selling or another small entreprenerships, diverse kind of rituals or fests, excursions and outbound activities, among others, including anything that could be an experience for learning and individuals and group growing.

While a community work project try to board several dimensions or work-lines to transform a problematic reality, the formation plan is more specific. It concentrates on the activities that an animator or an animator group facilitates to a whole youth group that is in a formation process. The practical idea of formation planning gravitating around disruptive rituals could be questioned as not enough technical from a rigid or technological position. It does not fit easy in forms or structured records that, looking for order and good management practices, are useful to institutional educative action. It allows precise measurements of educative processes and the educative decision making to correct the orientation and rule properly the group and its processes.

However, those non-questionable advantages make us blind to a perspective of deep awareness that follows values more than rules. A youngster that passed by a strong communitas experience, in an outbound activity, group traveling, popular fest, disruptive ritual, etc. does not feel necessarily stimulated to be subject to periodic activities that implies effort or separation from his or her obligations. Even, someone could assume that not only filling forms, but comprehending the sense of a rare new ritual and prepare it makes part of his or her duty activities, opting for the generation of disruptive experiences specifically oriented towards the shock -even visceral questioning- of social structure. It strengthens deep values that are the floor and sense of social life and individual alignment processes that each participant is freely choosing. This could happen in events that Wenger has called commissions, it means temporary practice communities in which participants share intensively knowledges and experiences that they bring from different places and communities (Wenger, 2001, p. 145-147). It could be postulated that disruptive rituals are the strongest communitas experiences when they are commission community practice events. Consequently, it would also imply, the design of formative processes that bring forward disruptive rituals as commission events and communitas experiences, making notable changes or participants engagement with social (and cultural) transformations.

This option does not seem like reasonable, though commission experiences also need to be planned at least to a minimum -with the necessary investment of energy, resources and time-, and there is no reason for choosing to plan only a type of action and less other adrift. This could be a technological practical critic, but there can be found a different critic from the other side of thinking education. This other questioning is coming from Joan-Carles Mèlich’s philosophy of education. It is an attack against the planning concept itself that he has resumed on the idea of a non-intentional pedagogy, which he uses to avoid or elude any teleological possibility. From his point of view, any transcendental values orientation occults a fundamentalism, or has a seed of it, like it was the case with German philosophy previous to the second world war, when it was a tool to justify a terrible genocide in what was called concentration fields. This author finds an exit for the dead end that could null any possibility of educational planning through suggesting of a practical theodicy that do not invoke universal values or principles, but feels its foundation on the touch relation between educator and pupil (Mèlich, 1999). This posture seems to be consequent to the Freirian way of generating a program content that do not emerge from any educator purposes but from what he or she collects from students and what they are capable to build together, answering to the needs of group participants (Freire, 1972).

The reading of a friend text that speaks about “current diminishing of the educational institutional action” (Úcar Martínez, 2009, p. 13)6 and my own experience with the changes that have had the community work and socioeducative action since my first experiences with it -when I was still a secondary student- confirms myself in a non-technological way to do things, which allow us to improvise, relativizing general purposes, letting myself be impressed and excited with every new discovery and recognizing territories and communities while learning about society. These manners are collectively built, planning the action, what means that a calculation of resources, effort and necessary time to be successful, and even to express it in a way that achievements can be verified and valued, for the improvement of actions and decisions making in the future. This allowing of improvising must also accept many things that have not been accepted, letting a space to oral memories of deeply meaningful moments, non-predicted answers, rare requirements of participants, and personal reasons for not being recorded that participants in a formation group could have. But this option for improvising is not the only reason for not showing recording tools here, it is also because we know that there are other publications that do it properly (Ventosa Pérez, 1992).

The formation plans

To speak about formation plans, an early modern approach is Pestalozzi’s How Gertrudis educate her children. Typical modern contribution here is the sequentiality of activities that is implicit in the meaning of “plan” and “planning”, with their nuances, which often saturate the school and the whole formal educative system, as well as the technological approach to education and sociocultural animation. Next to us, and more familiar with popular education practices in Latinamerica are Freire’s alphabetization model and liberating education, as well as Augusto Boal’s formation process on theater of the oppressed7. More sociological, there are many writings on Participative-Action-Research method which has been a powerful tool for alternative education processes and it is easy to find Freire’s influence on them. Colombian educators often claimed on the valuing the Orlando Fals Borda’s contribution (for instance, Fals Borda, 1991).

This can be balanced if remembering the correlated raising trend on out-of-school education in Europe, named social pedagogy. In its widest meaning, we find ourselves even Laatinamerican trend of popular education covered by it. Instead of this attempt to ubicating myself in a world map of educative practices, theories and trends, I keep having Freire’s perspective as the most universal, complex and fenomenologically clear approach to facilitating-learning processual relation. It is what I offer to my students, attempting to communicate the soul or the sense of critical formation plans, which ones able to encourage and give emotion for getting engaged in reality transformation processes towards a fairer social system, more equitative world or just making better the current social institutions on satisfying individual and collective necessities.

Pedagogical relation then starts on addressing my attention to quotidian perceptions, including those from nature and those from surrounding people, their presences -not only living beings- print some marks in my body and mind. I am able to evoke them while writing this or while giving an indication to a group on teaching-facilitating a song with theatrical movements that help the memory of everybody -evoking other groups images-, inviting people to dance, dramatize, follow me, express their own way. On this way, we contact my friend who taught me that song and those movements 30 years ago, and who I still admire though lost his trail. I got my own way to dance and facilitate it, looking at the movements of many people who are in my biography, traveling to the origin places of the song that I did not know when I learned it. Another guy from there confirms to me that it is a very traditional song but not the movements my friend taught me… expanssive attitude, joy on the face of this guy connecting to my inner world to favor my educational practices. It allows me to realice that of all of this details are important and they would not be accessible if only thinking on record quickly, not reflexive, reducing everything to the gaps in a form to cover the majority of cases and be able to generalize8.

Freirian method has this reflexive style and opens to our perception of ourselves. In the face of formal education sequentiality -heir of the XX century’s new school movement too- what implies to address first to simple things and then towards composed ones, lessing for the end the values, Freire’s sequentiality is a dialog. It even opposses catholic or christian religious youth animation that was common during the 1980 and 1990 decades, generally teleological (as for instance in Londoño, 1995).

The concept of generator themes -central to the Freire educational practice- appears as the first character in an awakening dialog aimed to facilitate the comprehension of reality as a totality, before starting its analysis, decomposing in its parts, decoding it to make a path to a deeper understanding that bring people again to the initial totality perspective that has now the quality of showing a system, a field of contradictions starting to be unveiled. Now people are able to conceive that we can be more, we can surpass historical situation that limited us before and that impeded to jump into the limit situation to perceive the possibility of change. For facilitating this total comprehension of generator themes, Freire proposes to name them with precision -avoiding generalizing or too evident nominations- but not as precise as looking similar to a guess (Freire, 1972, p. 94 ss.).

We can also understand the totality of the meaningful universe through dialog, letting flourish the different relations between different proposed generator themes, recognizing the main and the secondary, preventing from simplifications and rigid schemes that can avoid verbalization of details, implicit complexity of systemic relations that link every generator theme, exemple or evidence, to the whole system. These Freire’s recommendations, presented whithout schemas, though he did not like to simplify too much. Liberating education become a research process on the selected generating themes, which we can resume in never giving the last word, but challenge group to discover their own problematic words. It means, challenging people to challenge the world, and to do an effort to understand and to stand a challenging dialog, as genuine dialogs must be (Lozano, 2006). Freire proposes five steps, which can be seen as respectful dialog shifts, always acknowledging at the others dignity as from a reasonable and competent interlocutor, not a matter of diplomas or hierarchies, but of a human condition, of someone who feels, thinks and has a point of view for reading, giving meaning to reality and proposing oneself to transform it.

In my sociocultural animation classes, that I give to cultural management students in Manizales since 2009, the steps of Freire’s method have influenced in such manner that several times I proposed to the more motivated students to make a formation plan for an available group process, as the ending work of the course, after a research process on their own generating themes as an university group. In practice, due to they are not a neighborhood or peasant community, but youngsters in a process of academic formation, it is needed to clear that the voluntariness we find among popular education or youth animation is here. There are barriers like the quantitative evaluation system and the hierarchic relation with professors into the institution. Activities that emerge as a result of this dialog into the developing of the subject every year often achieve to emotionally link the students and link with their purposes too. The academic languages is not necesarily a “force shirt” that avoid the giving value to the practical students proposals such as activities, sequency of activities, or small workshop, though they must be accompanied by academical support texts which ideas studens must be able to simplify.

From this kind of work, the following recommendations come. They were proposed for the first time to the student group who took the subject in 2014, when the student movement stopped a political proposal of law that was giving an entrance to the “education with economic profit purposes” into the higher education system. It delayed the ending of the academic period and generated a translaping of classes and Christmas, giving us an opportunity to compose alternative and challenging novenas. This activated creativity on the students, some of them more challenging than others. At a certain moment, after an outbound activity, that was participation in Light Fests, in Salamina -an small town relatively near to Manizales-, I proposed them these orientations for their creative work of composing these novenas. They were at that moment making profit on the whole formation process of the course, where we had our own formation group process, and each of them had facilitated -by shifts- a dynamic or group activity. Each novena must be a formation plan itself for generating desired cultural changes in specific social environments available to each students group9:

  1. The formation plan refers to a group in a growing process, whose participants have consciously and voluntarily accepted to be formed for doing something, a practice, a job or a specific way to do things.

  2. We can comprehend formation as behavior modeling or dialogic tutoring with the helping of a facilitator. The dialog itself can facilitate the superation of formation as behavior modeling. When this kind of process is proposed by a superior or powerful role in the society to be followed by a subaltern character, or by a public server for a community that he or she does not know, this has to be dialog directly and openly with such authority, to avoid authoritarianism.

  3. A formation plan implies a model of person or a set of specific values. An approach to a perspective of the future related to this modeling has been sometimes called “ideal situation”. This idea has also influenced some presenting projects schemas further than for formation plans. This modeling es a first anchorage for the formation plan.

  4. The formation implies to know and recognize the living conditions and proper problems from the communities within the group is itself insert. Following theoretical orientations, this can be understood as contextual analysis, territorial study, situational framework, etc. This must be a second anchorage for the proposal of a formation plan.

  5. Almost always, the formation plan participates, as a part or component, in a major project, from which main anchorages come. It can be that formation plan appears in an advanced moment of the project that includes it. Then we have to be clear on this third anchorage, what is pointing at the most general process.

  6. The qualities, like intensity, duration, specific methods, materials, etc., of a formation plan are contingents and they are dependent on negotiations between facilitators, as work teams and communities, or groups within they are going to work.

Thinking on a possible configuring of “tropical education”, I must assume that these ideas are still in a germinal phase, mixing intuition and provocation to be able to otherwise education thinking. The association between the proposed disruptive style and the exotism of images that western modernity has made on the eastern cultures, southern countries and the tropics, gives also an exotic touch that I hope could be reoriented to suggest any contribution to ideas related to an alternative cultural dimension. De-centering ourselves means to put in the middle the ways of doing things on claimed exotic places, until they become familiar to us. Some of this has been meditated and commented in many northern academic meetings and northern diasporic scenarios that convoke every exotized region on the world as well as southern and eastern research centers and universities. Then concept of colonialism, in a critical perspective, generated also the de-coloniality notion, which become very common in sociology to place the wisdom as one of the ambits in which we can move, know and ubicate the knowledge, as one of the ambits in which an engaged group can generate transformations.

Other quality of disruptiveness is the profusion of shapes, colors, tones what emerge from creative processes that are stimulated when opening a way for the differences to be expressed. Rabeleis intuited this from the antipodes of the medieval stage, in representing the grotesque, laughing and creative characteristics of the carnivals of its time. But in the beginnings of XXIth century, diversity is much more. Equally, we can mention disruption and creativeness in Brazilian Tropicalia movement, during the 70’s. It suggests that thansformations -even on education- maybe are coming more on the hand of aesthetics than on the hand of politics. This was what social movements learned in the 90’s, with effects that we still feel on the present. How to induce our students, citizens of the XXIth century, learn it engaging to the bone to entering in global society and world transformation processes for all of us have welfareness? as we have a Mother Land to share with every life being, it is important to be able to enjoy life, nature, and do what is good for all and everybody. I believe that these dialogs with my students in these recent years are a symptom of a way that can be fruitful on this direction.

For ending these experience-based reflections, I share, as an example, provocation and tasting canape, some fragments of my sociocultural animation students work, within we can see some disruptiveness possibilities to facilitate cultural transformations towards a better world. As you can see, both proposals have sense in the context of cultural management formation professional programs, being related respectively to: 1) the struggle against all forms of segregation or discrimination -in the particular context of a school -, and 2) the cultural heritage very engaged practices in the eastern flat lands of Colombia - called Llanos orientales. I hope the contribution of this concepts and practices of disruptiveness and formation planning, from the fields of popular education and sociocultural animation, to the emergent profession of cultural management, and other similar professions and practices, may be clearer after understanding these stories that I am sharing here.

The martians arrival to the Earth. […] This is a Formation Plan thought to be run in a school community in Manizales, during the traditional religious event known as Christmas Novena. Due to the necessity of strenghten values such as integration, union, respect and tolerance between kids in schools, we presents a beautiful metaphora that we call “Arrival of martians to the Earth”, where the kids will receive a “martians” during Christmas days. These are dates where different people congregates from different ages up to different interests, to celebrate a christian event. However, this Formation Plan is nothing related with religious ideals and is no related to any specific church. [...] ¿Why? Because children need to realize that hate and segregation hurt people and cause pain, because with the metaphore of some martians that come mistreated from another planet they could understand that on the Earth people suffer the same too, and that our world deserves a second chance for mutual understanding and love [...] Creation tensions: Currently in Colombia there are many discrimination cases, by condition, skin color, socioeconomical condition, religion, in many schools. These are violence to the kids living together. Equally, some other tensions affects childhood as inequity, non-tolerance, familiar violence, which impulse us to propose this plan (Castro Daza; González; Ospina, 2014).

Pray to Alfonso Niño. […] ¡Oh sweet child! You was born in Sogamoso, music composer that dedicated your life to sing and compose to your land, with your fruitful 30 years artistic biography. You were always with your arpa, capachos, cuatro and bandola. Please, remember that you said these beautiful words for our unpleasant, painful and stressed hummanity: ‘Joropo barajustao that passes through the horizon, making dust rise and be suspended on air and it can be stopped a marota curtía’. Plenty of confidence on you, oh! My child! Who are the truth itself, we came to expose our few knowledge on llanera culture. Help us to bring our hearth up to the joropo music to find a venturous eternity. Give us, in the name of the merits of your talent, the appreciation towards the traditional colombian music that we need so much [...]. We give us to you, oh! Llanero child! Sure of that our hope will be not frustrated and that you will receive and respond to our petition! (Gallo, 2014)10.

1There has been a long term relation betwenn popular education -or pastoral inspired in liberation theology- and these indigenous attempts to make their own education. Some facilitators from inside de Nasa Indigenous Education System, located in small rural town Páez, Cauca departament, in october 2014, told me about some of the priests and minorities of religious communities that sometimes were very engaged with welfare, and even self-ruling of Nasa people. Though saying that seems to remove merits from indigenous organizations which, anyway have done the majority of the work to gain autonomy, cultural rights, welfare, etc.

2I thought of including in this list, also other religions like Brazilian’s espiritism, Uniao do vegetal, Santo Daime. In november 2010, as a volunteer in a espirita organization in, Salvador, Bahía, Brasil, I saw a trance scene in which the leader has some convulsions as a result of sharing beautiful communitarian experiences. Something similar has been recorded in the film Candeal’s Miracle, that tells a communitarian process in this city, with many spiritual interesting and beautiful elements.

3In 2014 and 2015, I was able to visit friends, and toturing students, for facilitating of short animation activities, in many indigenous communities in such places as Páez (Tierradentro region, Cauca, Nasa people), Nabusimake (Santa Marta Mountains, Ik+ people) and La Chorrera (northwest of Amazonas region; Bora, Murui, Muina and Okaina peoples). I witnessed a high level of participación. I speaks about indigenous peoples referring to these experiences and peoples, adding also the Embera-Chamí people, which lives near to Manizales. Since 2016, I am the professor who mediates between indigenous peoples -represented in the Cabildo Indigena Universitario and the university, through the experience of Indigenous and Afro Intercultural Cathedra.

4I think it is necessary to mention the difference -that I had conceptualized since my PhD thesys- between scared cultures, land cultures y fragmented cultures. Among land cultures it is easier to find a rooted idea of Paul Natorp’s social pedagogy. But, when they get closer to experience fragmentation processes, it becomes needed to set up “[...] cultural saveguard plans” (Lozano Escobar, 2006, p. 61-67).

5Novena” is the feminine ordinal, related to a pray that must be done nine times. It is something traditional in popular catholic religion over the Iberic influence, although it is clear that the older traditions has been kept more than in Latinoamerica than in its original context.

7Being this influence more notable in decades 1970 y 1980, it opened spaces and minds for local movements of popular theater, which were an origin and had influence for the emergency of some of the most well-known today’s groups in Colombia, such as Corporación de Teatro La Candelaria, in Bogotá, Teatro Experimental de Cali, o the already disappeared group Teatro Popular de Bogotá (Arcila, 1992).

8Even, in approaching challenging-objectivity experiences like religious revelation or upper-natural phenomenon, it can be seen that independence between inner world and exterior world of a person can be a prejudice. It can’t be approached as a cientific fact, because the kind of truth that is being played is nearer to an axioma, a philosophical axioma. On education speaking, it is notable that Paulo Freire gives more importance to the comprehension of the totality of the meaningful universe of the community in an oppression situation.

9These orientations were proposed from my own life experiences for a unique situation that was facilitated by the student movement. That political and communitas weather made me at the same time to hurry up myself to finish the academical period looking not to hurt the purposes and interest of the students, and to recognize myself, with my own youth animator experience as a source of legitimate knowledge, though during a long time I did not consider it because of a big lack of information on the original sources of it. It means that I never took a course on animating these group processes or even on how to teach or facilitate. So my declared sources can be just: 1) the pastoral tutors that I have in my last years of school, 2) my vocational Jesuit counsellers during last years of school and first year in university, 3) many readings like book guides and periodical publications that avidly I red during those years, in book shops and libraries like CINEP’s (Centro de Investigación en Educación Popular), Casa de la Juventud and Dimension Educativa, all of them in Bogotá. In most of the cases, I lost the precise references, 4) the long term relation with religious vedruna community of Santa Librada neighborhood during the 90’s, specially with sister Pilar Alonso Fernandez, who became an institution there during more than four decades and 5) the practical experiences with my own generation of youth leaders of the artistic and pastoral processes on the fifth urban district (localidad quinta), called also Usme.

10This article is part of the Thematic Section, Resistances and Reexistences in Educational Social Spaces in Times of Neo-Conservatism, organized by Inês Barbosa de Oliveira (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro) and Rafael Marques Gonçalves (Universidade Federal do Acre).


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Received: July 17, 2018; Accepted: June 06, 2019

Javier Orlando Lozano Escobar is a popular educator, cultural manager, anthropologist from National University of Colombia, PhD in Education and Society by Autonomous University of Barcelona. Currently he works as an associated professor at the National University of Colombia in its Manizales venue, where he is part of a researchers on the emergent profession named Cultural Management. He coordinates the Indigenous and Afrodescendant Intercultural Cathedra and the Formative Youth Researchers Program on Cultural Agency.



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