The possibilities of working with arts – Every person has potentials
A reflection on the project meeting in Portugal in
September 2022 within the framework of the European project "Culture of Solidarity".
Miriam Weinzierl
Workshop participant, Theatre Pedagogue
What is Culture of Solidarity Project?
The project unites five organisatios from Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Netherlands.
All partner organisations are involved in using non-formal education activities based on the use of creative methods. That is what this project aims to
explore. Through the exchange of practice, we want to increase the capacity of each project partner through a joint learning journey throughout the project by visiting each other's institutions. There have already been two meetings, one in Poland and
one in Italy in 2022. One meeting in Romania and the Netherland will follow soon.
During our recent visit to Matosinhos, Porto (Portugal), we had the privilege of exploring the vibrant environment of the Association for Second Chance Education, also known as the "Escola de Segunda Oportunidade de Matosinhos." This remarkable institution is dedicated to providing second chance education to vulnerable groups of students, including those with low educational and professional qualifications who are at risk of social exclusion. Established in 2008, the school operates in close collaboration with the municipality of Matosinhos and the Ministry of Education, serving as a beacon of hope and opportunity for individuals seeking a fresh start. Embracing a multidisciplinary approach, the school goes beyond theater and incorporates various art disciplines to support students in discovering their untapped potential, exploring their passions, and igniting their intrinsic motivation. By recognizing and nurturing their unique talents, the school empowers students who may have felt marginalized within the traditional education system, offering them the tools and encouragement needed to thrive in their educational journey.
To learn to value every person and see them in their potentials is an essential notion we have to support in our society. This is important because schools still teach individualistic and not collective narratives where everybody struggles for themselves in a dog-eat-dog situation. This school makes an attempt to change that. We need more of these approaches. And we need them now.
— Miriam
During the stay in Porto we visited different institutions linked to the school such
as the local theater institution "Grupo Dramático e Musical Flor de Infesta" which is
an artspace for music and theater (, the university of Porto
in the department of education or a primary school that organizes together with
second chance school different art classes. There students of the second chance
school can be involved in preparing and implementing art classes for the primary

As visitor and part of the CWM team it was interesting to learn about the program and
get some time to explore with the project partners the topics. The session in each
institution were held with a good balance of information about the program and
practical exercises to learn how the school works with their students. We tried out
different theater exercises mainly from Theater of the Oppressed, which is a theater
methodology that works a lot with political aspects and individual reflections. We
also experienced exercises from the visual arts classes and received the honor to
enjoy the food of the cooking class of the school.

The highlight of the whole week was for me a sensory theater parkour where every
person was taken individually on a journey blindfolded. The journey worked with all
senses, except visuals to tell a story and let the participant explore things in a
new way. Our daily life is often very focused on visual impulses. Other senses are
used but not focused. Therefore, it was a very beautiful experience to shift this
focus to other possibilities of perception. During this journey different stories
were told that are connected to the topic of school with a negative connotation. The
idea was to make clear that everybody can have negative experience with school but at
the same time they wanted to point out that this school works with different means
and provides an alternative to find ones potentials in life and to value the
individual and their experience. This parkour is one of the first activities of the
school to welcome newcomers with the aim to show them that this school has a
different approach towards learning.

To sum up the whole experience in Porto....
I have to say that this encounter pointed out the potential of artistic disciplines for education. Arts provide the individual a mean of self-expression and support in finding one's potentials. To find something that people enjoy doing is essential in this work especially with a target group that has been told a lot about their faults and incapacities. Especially the target group of the school hears about this a lot I would assume. Besides individual processes, arts can also provide the opportunity for social learning with a holistic and resource-oriented gaze upon the group.
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