Participatory Learning Principles
Participatory Learning as articulated by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, is at the core of our approach to personal and social change. Participatory learning adopts as a starting point the understanding that our personal stories are the most relevant source of knowledge for addressing matters of deep importance in our lives and the lives of our communities.
In our workshops we use exercises and techniques to elicit stories from participants, and then invite participants to reflect on the wisdom embedded in their stories and on ways of using this wisdom to address critical economic, social, and mental health concerns.
Participatory learning is a collective process. Participants are invited to reflect on the broad contexts that shape our lives – contexts defined by culture, history, gender, and socioeconomic and political forces. By considering the wider context in which our life stories unfold, learners gain an expanded understanding of themselves, their families and their communities, as well as an expanded sense of possibilities for change.
The transformative capacity of participatory learning has been widely acknowledged. The approach has found its way into the fields of community development, education, public health promotion, primary health and mental health, trauma recovery, and justice/crime prevention.