VOICE AND BODY and adult education
The profession of the educator is one of “communication and performance” as the first professional tool of trainers is their own body, and whatever impact or effect they wish to have on their learners will go through their voice and their non-verbal communication. This is particularly true for trainers in certain domains such as language teaching, intercultural trainings, theatre-based trainings, sexuality-education. Following inputs from education science about the needs and specificities of adult learners, new methodological options have appeared in the profession that invite for a more active, engaging, sensorial learning experience. These new approaches imply an even higher importance of the trainer’s posture and quality of presence. Furthermore, an increasing number of trainers are involved with culturally heterogeneous student groups, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds or different cultural backgrounds who are less familiar with Western-style educational practices. Educators become increasingly aware of the need to adjust their communication behaviour, make it more comprehensible, emphasising the use of voice, giving importance to clarity of gestures as well as to creating a relationship, using the group dynamics etc. As a consequence, the need to be more confident and proficient in multimodal communication is gaining in importance, and it is not yet satisfied by current offers: the use of voice and body is rarely part of initial or continuous trainings and very few tools are accessible to adult educators to assess their own performance / behaviour.
Assessing our body and voice performance
What is our presence like in a situation? What does it feel like and what does it look like? During our interventions we rarely focus on how we are in a situation: our posture, sounds, emotions, bodily sensations: we may be centered on our message or the participants.
However, the voice, the body, the presence of the educator are her main tools, everything she does is mediated through her presence. The word presence inevitably evokes a double perspective: internal and external, presence perceived and seen. We have an internal sensation about our body, and at the same time it makes a visual impression on others. The same is true for our voice, our emotional landscapes and our self-presentation strategies. Our video-based method will help bridge this apparent gap between the internal and the external, helping you to be able to use the inner sensations as feedback in a more mindful way, with a little bit of more awareness.
Working on voice and body of adult education professionals
In the development phase of our project we ran 7 pilot sessions using different art forms and different pedagogical strategies to develop our ways of using our voice and our bodies. The case studies below offer an insight on the different approaches we tested.
These were all rather long, 30-40 hours long workshops. Such a long programme requires very strong motivation, engagement and availability. We know everyone cannot commit to such an intense programme. For those who wish to commit for a shorter period we devised our “Two days of voice and body work for educators” session, which is inspired of our longer trainings and gives a compact summary to taste our methods and test wether such a training is for you.
Why is art good for you?
At times being in the present moment proves to be an unexpected challenge: our mind seems always busy either anticipating the future or reflecting on the past. Moments of stress and anxiety in front of a group may reinforce such sensations. Such a sensation of non-presence, it seems, is far from being rare. For author Harari, this is so characteristic of us humans that he speculates that as a species simply we may not be cut out for being in the present.
The great potential of artistic methods, such as theatre, dance, or singing, among others, is that they can help us get anchored to the present moment. In our work with educators, we use those methods taking out the ‘burden’ of necessarily having to be a great artist. Art is a tool to work on the competences and skills that educators not only already have, but also use in their daily profession.
It is a matter of reinforcing them and making educators more aware and confident about the use of their body and voice. The work starts from very simple and accessible exercises that focus on breathing, on the use of voice and space while teaching, as well as on posture, to then pass on to movement, to the relation with the others, and the role(s) of the educator.
According to Marian López-Fernández Cao (2008) , any immersion in artistic creation has the potential to achieve competencies linked to the management of feelings, doubts, decision-making, individual work, as well as collaboration. Through art, it is possible to find a more authentic and immediate way of expressing, connecting with one’s own personal resources, and sharing them with others, creating something new in a collaborative way. For more details download the comparative study
Our team: who are we?
We are a team of 5 organizations, that wish to put together their expertise in movement, singing, theatre, pedagogy, and communication to help volunteers and professionals of adult education gain more proficiency, confidence, and satisfaction in their quality of presence. Our work has three phases: we started with the construction of a tool to analyze our vocal and body performance in front of the learners. Based on this exploration we created workshops for educators using different art forms (dance, movement, theatre, singing..). In the next step, we’ll summarise the results of these parallel workshops and create one mixed-method learning path. We’ll also make video lessons to give a chance to educators to practice their vocal or body communication. The European Commission’s Erasmus+ program is financing our work.
La Xixa Teatre is a non-profit organisation based in Barcelona, Spain, with the aim of researching, developing and multiplying educational and theatrical tools as a means for social transformation. Through its experience, La Xixa has developed its own method combining Theatre of the Oppressed, Clown, Process Work and other creative and participatory methodologies. The activities we carry out include workshops, training, and performances targeting different groups of the population. We are a multi-disciplinary and multicultural group of collaborators, trained in the field of social sciences, pedagogy, and arts, who strongly believe in the embodiment of the experiences and in the amplification of the diverse voices. In our work with educators, facilitators, and trainers, we give special attention to verbal and non-verbal communication, to voice and movement, as they are the most powerful tools that we have to generate processes of individual and collective transformation and reach the impact we aim for.
Elan’s main profile – let’s say our natural habitat – is intercultural trainings, which we adapt and deliver to a variety of professionals from the social, education, and health fields. In the last couple of years, we got more and more involved with adult educators offering courses and learning opportunities for adult learners in difficult situations: French classes for migrants, intercultural training for refugees, etc. While intercultural communication has always been at the center of our attention, how educators communicate, and how they make use of their voice and body only became the center of focus two years ago, when we were filming cultural mediation sessions in museums with migrants, and we were struck by the great differences from one educator to another in terms of the clarity and appeal of their communication style. So we got interested in understanding better: what makes the difference in how we perceive an educator’s communication style, and also what makes the difference in the satisfaction and joy that one educator takes from communicating with learners. The VOICE project offers us a chance to explore these intriguing questions while also offering a chance to develop our vocal and body repertoire. For this adventure, Peter Wilberforce joins our team armed with his experience in voice and movement.
CESIE is a European centre of studies and initiatives based in Palermo (Italy) and established in 2001, inspired by the work and theories of sociologist Danilo Dolci (1924-1997). Our mission is to promote educational innovation, participation and growth. CESIE actively connects research with action through the use of formal and non-formal learning methodologies. The organisational structure is divided into 6 thematic units working in cooperation and managing activities in their specific fields: Higher Education and Research; Rights and Justice; Adult, Migration; School; Youth.
CESIE is committed to promoting art and culture as a tool for education and participation, always valuing diversity. It delivers an extensive portfolio of arts-based projects collaborating with dance, visual arts and theatre experts to develop educational programmes and initiatives at local, European and international level.
In Touch is an Amsterdam based NGO with the aim of fostering healthy relationships at an interpersonal, group and societal level. We help people find connection across cultures, languages, generations, social and cultural background. We develop our projects in the personal domains of life, such as birth, growth, shelter, healing, sexuality (ars erotica), transition, mourning and death. We create and hold all kinds of learning and creative space for our target groups where they feel safe and brave to explore, learn, connect and grow. In the VOICE project we work together with Katharina Conradi dancer/ choreographer, certified movement analyst and somatic movement educator and therapist.
Katharina’s view on dance gives us an explanation how we connect to the VOICE project:
“To me, dance ranges from taking a breath, moving one arm or perform a complex dance performance. Movement allows us to connect to our inner world, to understand that we are part of this world; part of the earth, part of gravity and part of everything and everybody that is alive and to interact and communicate from this embodied place. Our body has many stories to tell. I believe that the life story of a person is reflected in the body. Through dance and movement we can connect with our stories, get aware of our patterns and develop and change ourselves if we wish.”
VoiceLAB is a laboratory of the voice and polyphony, led by Aleksandra Kotecka, Tomasz Wierzbowski and Krzysztof Paździora. Its work focuses on the vertical dimension of music, in order to get the fullest sound out of each harmony. Thanks to such approach, every interval turns out to be a unit that carries a certain feeling, certain tensions and resolutions that by themselves create micro-stories and face the performer with a challenge requiring full engagement into the vocal action.
VoiceLAB is affiliated at the Grotowski Institute in Wrocław, a municipal arts institution whose educational programme encompasses practical, research and outreach activities for both specialist audiences and the general public. It aspires to foster a vibrant intellectual and culture-shaping milieu open to new initiatives, methodologies and subjects.