|When: April-May 2020
Where: Remote (Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil)
Facilitator: Matheus Batalha
Matheus Batalha Moreira Nery
It was the early hours of the morning. A hot cup of coffee helped me to dispel the fatigue accumulated by the avalanche of work that arose since the beginning of the pandemic. On the screen, about twenty small balls represented the students present in the remote classroom. My students, in general, are not in the habit of turning on their cameras. So, because I can’t see them, I only hear them, regardless of the subject to be dealt with in class, I always start looking to see if they are well. It is a kind of “round of good”, in which I try to be empathetic to know how they are surviving in these pandemic times. After the initial games and the collective distribution of empathy, we started the activity scheduled for that class. Everyone had received a message the day before stating that we would work with art as a vehicle for the construction of knowledge. We would read a basic text and do a small artistic production that would serve as an inducer of questions. In that discipline, in particular, we studied methodologies for teaching art in the educational context. I also requested in advance that everyone had the basic materials needed for the activity, including blank cardboard or sheet of paper, colored pencils, glue, magazines, and whatever else they wanted to add to a playful activity. To facilitate the virtual work, I recorded the reading audio and distributed it as soon as we started the virtual activities.
“If you don’t want to get sick – talk about your feelings,” my voice rang out loudly through the headphones I use for my classes. Before pressing play to hear the audio, I asked them to draw, artistically, freely, a “book cover” for the text that would be read. When I finally played, in addition to my voice, there was only silence. At the end of the first audition, I asked if everyone would like to hear it again. They said yes, and so I repeated it twice. Before the third hearing, I placed a new command. I told them that I would like them, while listening to the text, to ask a question about it. A few seconds after the last hearing, questions started to appear on my computer screen. “The audio talks about not getting sick! To be happy, but many times the problems and concerns come to try to afflict us, wanting to be greater than our happiness, what to do to be resilient at that moment, where to look for strength, because we know that not everything is a sea of roses?” asked one of the students. At the same time, another student asked that “would the solution to all problems be to put what we really feel out there?”. Once everyone proposed their questions, I asked each to choose one of their colleagues’ questions to answer. Like a trigger, my proposition awoke them to an important sense of community commitment. “My strength comes from God, and, indeed, life is not a bed of roses, but resilience exists precisely for us to know how to cope, to reinvent ourselves in these difficult moments”, said a student in response to the question about where to look for strength”. Another student answered the question about feelings by stating that “first you have to understand, control and reframe bad feelings. If not, new problems will be created, perhaps not for you, but others. I believe that the answer based on the text is to have the courage to free yourself from bad feelings, anguish, negativity, and live, in humility, accepting yourself as you are ”.
Unlike what we have experienced in our daily lives recently, in which authoritarianism has been proposed as the best solution to the most varied problems we have, I learned, a long time ago, that an efficient mechanism to make students collaborate with their processes of learning is precise to make them become an active part of the whole process. Instead of having my students answer authoritarian questions, which often disperse in silence, I always try to create subtle ways of doing it with them, also taking on the responsibility of questioning reality. The questions proposed by them facilitate my teaching work and the initial questions of that day raised a series of other questions in the class. I watched everything patiently, and when I realized that they had built a consensus on the main elements of the text, I proposed a question for analysis. I simply asked them, in suspense, “what did we do?” The students’ responses were eloquent. “For me, it was a very interesting class. We express art in the form of thought and drawings. Expressing our desires and feelings, creating a conversation channel with our colleagues and absorbing good advice to heal the soul, which at the moment is worn out by this daily struggle ”, wrote one of the students in the chat. I believe that the students’ reflections are an important part of the pedagogical process. When questions are asked creatively by them, the level of engagement in academic work increases. In these pandemic times, when we need to be distant from each other, but we need to connect to make the teaching process happen, use dynamic strategies that allow the student to create relationships between what they need to learn and their life, it is a gold coin.
Late that afternoon, while drinking another cup of coffee, I received an email from my mentor in the USA, the person responsible for creating the Pre-Texts, the teaching protocol I had applied in my class that morning. The message only read “Hooray”, a word used in English to express congratulations. We had just been awarded a small grant from Harvard University through the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, in partnership with the Lemann Foundation, to promote training in the use of this protocol in schools in northeastern Brazil. A single word was able to boost me much more than caffeine.
By Matheus Batalha Moreira Nery
Nataly Lorena Do Nascimento Oliveira
Eloá Alves Barbosa
We were all sitting in the early hours of the morning. The hot cup was next to my computer. On the screen, just small balls that represented the students present in that online room. They are not in the habit of turning on their cameras. Therefore, regardless of the theme, I always start our meetings asking them if everything is all right. It is a kind of “round of good”, in which I try to be empathetic with everyone to know how they are surviving in these pandemic times. After the initial collective distribution of empathy, we passed the activity scheduled for that morning’s class. All students had received a message through the WhatsApp about carrying out an activity called Pre-Texts during class. In it, the students, mostly women, were informed that that morning they would receive audio with the reading of a text chosen for the activity, as well as the written text and all instructions. In the same message, there was an instruction so they could organize all the necessary materials for the activity, namely: cardboard or blank sheet, paper, markers, pencils, glue, magazines, and whatever else they wished to add in the face of playful activity.
The twenty students in that session are part of the Pedagogy major at Uninassau, in Aracaju, State of Sergipe, northeast of Brazil. In that course, they study methodologies for teaching art. Early in the session, I asked them to tidy up all the materials on their desk. I also informed them that the full text and the audio were already available, and as soon as possible we could start working. “With the audio, you received from Nataly Lorena, in which I am the narrator, you can start working on your book covers while listening to the audio”, I spoke in an assertive tone, which all confirmed objectively through the small chat box of the video conferencing system. At the end of the first hearing, I asked if they would like to hear the text again. Given affirmative answers, I indicated that we would give five minutes between one hearing and another so that everyone could organize the development of their materials. After the third hearing, we introduced a new instruction. I told them, “in this third hearing, I would like you, when you hear the text, to ask a question about it. Any question that interests you.”
A few minutes later, the questions came up on my computer screen. “The audio talks about not getting sick! To be happy, but many times the problems and concerns come to try to afflict us, wanting to be greater than our happiness, what to do to be resilient at that moment, where to look for strength, because we know that not everything is a bed of roses?”, asked one of the students. While another student asked the following question: “Could the solution to all problems be to put what we really feel out there?” Once everyone asked their questions, we asked each participant to choose one of their colleagues’ questions to answer. This proposition aroused in the participants an important sense of commitment to respond to colleagues, differently from what we experience daily.
In response to the proposed questions, especially those highlighted on where to look for strength and talking about feelings would be the solution to the problems, two other students proposed answers as “my strength comes from God, it is true that life is not a bed of roses, but resilience exists precisely for us to know how to deal with reinventing ourselves in these difficult moments”, and “first we need to understand, control and reframe bad feelings, if this does not happen, new problems will be created, maybe not for you and yes for others. I believe that the answer based on the text is to have the courage to free yourself from bad feelings, anguish, negativity, and live in the humility of accepting yourself as you are.” It is important to note that putting them to reflect on the activities of other colleagues was a big step in the evolution of this group. Generally, they find it difficult to present ideas or discuss topics when they are raised in classes using the traditional teaching approach. Since the questions were raised by their colleagues, and not by the instructor, the level of engagement in academic work was much higher than normal, seen daily.
At the end of this part of the session, we posed the key question that makes up the Pre-Texts program: “What did we do?” I asked the students in a suspense tone. The answers were given simply and eloquently: “For me, it was a very interesting class… we expressed art in the form of thought and drawings. Expressing our desires and feelings, creating a channel of conversation with our colleagues and absorbing good advice to heal the soul that is currently worn out by this daily struggle ”, wrote one of the students. Another participant wrote “we try to understand, critically, Dr. Dráuzio’s audio and present it artistically through a drawing. It also tries to make each one of us reflect through a question, answering it later according to the text.” Emphasizing the artistic and academic work produced with the art done by reading the text “The art of not getting sick” written by the doctor Dr. Drauzio Varella was an important part of the session.
A week later, we held another online Pre-Texts session using the same text with high school students from public schools in the State of Sergipe. It is important to note that, due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19, all public schools are closed. All contact with students was made through WhatsApp and the session conducted by the Zoom Cloud Meetings. Eight students participated in this session, but only six were actively engaged in the activities. The proposed work dynamics have undergone only a small change. Instead of students asking questions, we ask them to work with artistic representations of figures of speech in the text. The expressions chosen for free design were “do not live in appearance”, “make a decision”, “accept yourself”, and “joy cures any disease”, all present in Dr. Drauzio Varella’s text. We respect the pace of each participant for their artistic productions and when everyone reported having completed their drawings, we asked the key question of Pre-Texts, “what did we do?”
The result was equally surprising with high school students, given that the reflection helped to increase engagement in the session itself. “We made a reflection on the text through drawings, putting our feelings and ways of thinking in the drawings”, said one of the students. Another pointed out that “we work with the main figure of speech, also thinking a little, not to be pessimistic in order not to bring negative energy and also about living in appearance, which unfortunately is very common”, said one of the students.
Like the pedagogy students, everything worked very well with high school students. All students were very engaged in all the activities we proposed. The engagement was surprisingly greater than in other classes, as well as the quality of the academic material that all participants presented. Even though the dynamics of questions and answers, higher education students have focused their answers on their own experiences, and not on the text, this is a very common movement among Brazilian students, at least mines. But, I think the session was very useful to show them a different path.
With high school students, they showed a lot of interest and determination to learn and express their creativity, surprising us with their materials created during the session. Although in the search for the figure of speech, not everyone wanted to express their language, often because they feared to make mistakes, the session was very useful for them to express themselves, communicate, and see the texts differently, taking pleasure in their interpretation. Most of these students will take an entrance exam for universities later this year.
A very interesting point was how close the interpretations of the text were in the two groups. The participants of both groups did not know each other, but, in general, through the Pre-Texts protocol, they reached very close conclusions about different passages of the same text proposed for both sessions. We realized that the result of the expression of free drawing in the two groups had many similarities. Each participant drew differently, however, they matched their similarities in the idea, expression, meaning, and purpose of the activity.
The pre-text session helped us to show participants a new look at text interpretation, expression and communication for the formation of conscious subjects in their choices in a democratic country. The session with high school students and university students was a success here in Brazil. Many liked it and asked for more classes similar to the Pre-Texts Protocol.
At the end of each session, we promoted an online collective exhibition of the drawings. Here are some artistic productions to enjoy:
Alunos de Sétimo Semestre de Pedagogia
Disciplina – Metodologia do Ensino da Arte
Texto: A arte de não adoecer
Autor: Dr. Dráuzio Varella
Participantes: 19 alunas e 01 aluno
Coordenado por Prof. Matheus Batalha Moreira Nery, com a ajuda de Nataly Lorena Do Nascimento Oliveira.
As estudantes receberam uma mensagem em seu grupo de Whatsapp sobre a realização de uma atividade chamada Pre-Texts durante o horário da aula. Na mesma mensagem, as estudantes foram informadas que usaríamos a plataforma Teams, disponibilizada pela universidade para o encontro virtual. Na plataforma, bem como Whatsapp ,elas receberiam o áudio com a leitura com a leitura do texto escolhido, bem como o texto em si e todas as instruções. Eles também receberam na mesma mensagem a instrução que deveriam providenciar, a seu critério, os materiais necessários para atividade, a saber: papelão ou folha em branco, papel colorido, marcadores, lápis de cor, cola, revistas e o que mais desejassem adicionar.
Logo no início da sessão, pedimos que elas arrumassem todos os materiais em sua mesa de trabalho. Informamos também que o texto completo, em especial o áudio, já estava disponível, e assim que possível poderíamos iniciar os trabalhos.
“Com o áudio que vocês receberam de Nataly Lorena Do Nascimento Oliveira , no qual eu sou o narrador, vocês podem começar a trabalhar cada um em suas capas de livros enquanto escutam os áudio.”
Em sequência, perguntamos se elas gostariam de ouvir o texto novamente.
“Vamos dar 5 mim entre uma audição e outra para vocês poderem organizar o desenvolvimento de seus material.”
Para a terceira audição, incluímos uma nova atividade ao processo:
“Nesta terceira audição, gostaria que vocês, ao ouvirem o texto, formulassem uma questão sobre ele. Qualquer questão que lhe seja de interesse.”
As questões que sugiram foram as seguintes (Tal qual eles escreveram, sem edição). Nota, dos 20 estudantes, somente 16 participaram nesta etapa, mesmo a gente solicitando que todos os colegas validassem os presentes na turma, como fazemos na sessão presencial (alguns saíram com problemas de internet):
Pedimos então que cada uma das participantes escolhesse uma pergunta de um colega que gostaria de responder. Eis as perguntas e respostas:
Nesta parte da sessão, algumas estudantes responderam mais do que uma pergunta. A conexão de internet não estava muito boa neste momento, e algumas respostas demoravam a chegar, por isso as alunas se voluntariaram a responder mais de uma perguntas.
Em sequência, como fazemos nos workshops, eu fiz uma pergunta sobre o que fizemos;
“O que nós fizemos?”. Eis as respostas das participantes (sem edição, ou correção de linguagem):
Durante a apresentação dos desenhos (capas dos livros), fizemos um momento de apreciação e solicitamos que as alunas escolhessem o desenho que elas consideraram ter maior relação com a oficina e o texto estudando. O desenho vencedor, escolhido pela grande maioria das alunas, foi o seguinte:
Após o momento de apreciação, explicamos a dinâmica de sair pela tangente. Todas as alunas participantes contribuirão com um texto para o nosso próximo encontro, nesta próxima semana. Apresentamos também o site www.pre-texts.org.
De modo geral, tudo funcionou muito bem e as alunas ficaram muito engajadas em todas as atividades que propomos. Na verdade, o engajamento foi surpreendentemente maior do que nas outras aulas, bem como a qualidade do material acadêmico que elas apresentaram. Muito embora na dinâmica de perguntas e respostas elas tenham centrado as respostas em suas próprias experiências, e não no texto, este é um movimento bem comum entre os meus alunos. Elas acreditam, literalmente, que a leitura deve servir a suas próprias ideias e não ajudá-los a transformar seu pensamento. Mas, penso que a oficina foi muito útil para lhe mostrar um caminho diferente.