From 15 to 18 April, 2016 I could take part in my first (!) School of Public Life training. For years I have been a regular (one might say excessive) participant in various training courses, commuting between Budapest, Pécs and Kunbábony, so I have picked up the knowledge and methodological skills which I can rely on in the course of my activities. The critical pedagogy training of the School fit well in this process.
3 days of intensive learning, dialogue, practice and constant thinking can be demanding, but for me it was this intensity that inspired me so much that I wasn't going home stumbling and dozing each night after 8 hours of training. On the contrary, I was full of ideas and ready for action. I realized with satisfaction that I was involved in something useful despite the fact that I had spent the whole day between four walls, not even noticing the summer weather outside.
As a few of us emphasized at the beginning of the training, critical pedagogy was actually what we had been doing for a long time, although not consciously. Therefore, we considered the training essential, as it is difficult to achieve things without a solid basis. A methodologically diverse and flexible, philosophically solid and commitment-demanding theory was disclosed to us by our “trainers”, who were actually our companions in the discussion. Principles cannot be learned. Understanding, developing, tasting, rejecting some parts and highlighting the hidden aspects: that was the process we went through during the three day discussion. We were assisted by the methodology our trainers used to guide the conversation. We were learning how we were learning.
Over the three days we outlined the theory of critical pedagogy, the characteristics of its "game master", examples from Hungary (because certainly there are some, past and present as well), we talked about the social reality around us and finally about the most feared part for us, the practice lesson teaching. The practical nature of the last day's syllabus frightened and at the same time reinforced us: it proved not to be an impossible task.
That evening on the way home I could not focus on the book in front of me, or on my highly incomplete papers to be submitted at university. My thoughts were spinning while my body strongly objected to staying awake after three demanding days. So I drifted into troubled dreams, of course about the practical implementation that is ahead of me. We can say, therefore, that my deliverable practice teaching will be the result of a nightmare, hopefully not of the worst kind.
Thanks for the inspiration to our educators, to my companions and to the nice weather! It is never too early to realize what it takes to achieve real change. But it is not enough to know, you must dare to act on it.
Therefore I wish all of you a lot of courage and good work!
Fanni Sarolta Aradi
Activist of The City Is For All, Pécs