Working with "educationally disadvantaged" young people seemed urgent to us because they are disproportionately represented in right-wing-oriented youth scenes. They are considered particularly susceptible to dichotomous world views and right-wing extremist and xenophobic arguments. There are very few projects that address the specifics of these young people. Therefore, it was important to support the local educators in their very committed work and to develop and communicate new methodological approaches in their work.
Young people with learning disabilities usually have a negative self-image due to their experiences with rejecting and stigmatizing processes. All too often, this leads to them not being able to draw on their positive resources, not being able to perceive them at all. They have little confidence in themselves and consider their abilities to be poor. This is where our work comes in: in the promotion of social skills and creative competencies. Last but not least, the support of the colleges in their efforts to counteract the stigmatization of the school and students is part of the project work.
The aim was to carry out systematic long-term work with people with learning disabilities in a few selected locations with groups of young people that were as fixed as possible. The focus was on methods of constructive conflict resolution as well as theater pedagogy, especially the Theater of the Oppressed, in combination with improvisational theater as well as play and peace pedagogy.
The main focus was on project work with the young people on various topics as well as the development and testing of methods for pedagogical work with the learning disabled. However, the use of the developed methods also has another very practical aspect: it means a participatory, democratic practice, within the framework of which the young people self-determine the rules of cooperation, in the course of which decisions are made in a consensus-oriented and democratic manner. Thus, the methods combine a purposeful, creative group activity with a high degree of self-determination and decision-making latitude. The young people experience how democracy can function in practice and practice mutual respect and consideration as a necessary criterion for a joint project to come to fruition.
Theater pedagogical methods
Theater pedagogical methods were the main focus in the methodical work with the young people. They are very well suited for this target group. Theater pedagogy is holistic and especially suitable for young people with learning disabilities who are less receptive to cognitive learning methods. It starts with the adolescents' experiences, enables method changes in rapid succession without "long talk," and can encourage adolescents to try unusual and unfamiliar approaches. The range of alternative actions in difficult situations is expanded in a playful way - tested in the protective space of theater and yet experienced in a real way.
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