WHAT IS STREET EDUCATION?

The street is the umbilical cord that links individual to society.   | VICTOR HUGO

Often, the participants of our street education activities are asking us why we are working in the street, and our answer is always the same: to meet you.

Indeed, after several experiences of classical events (debate, conference, movie etc..) of education to citizenship and solidarities we noticed that it was always the same kind of participants (relatives and friends from other associations) who are already aware and “convinced”. We also noticed that we were fewer and fewer. Our objective was to stimulate the participation of the citizens, so we decided to not wait for them anymore in our “activist space”, but to go where the citizens are. And where can we easily find people?

DIVERSITY & PLURALITY IN THE STREETS

To go where the people are, means in the geographical sense, to move and occupy the street but also in  the psychological sense to move to some common fields with the citizens. In that sense, the public space (and not only the street) should be seen as a common space,  one that belongs to all of us.

Our educational work in the street allows us to come in contact, interact with and get closer to a mixed group of people. In the street we’re meeting the social, cultural, political, generational diversity of our society. The street allows us in particular to touch a public far from the classical space of participation such as workers, minorities, youth and other marginalised groups. A large part of the population is out of the democratic life and the street education is proposing an alternative space of participation for them.

THE AGORA FUNCTION & TO QUESTION OUR WORLD

The public space has a physical dimension, but also a philosophical one. It is the space where ideas and debates about society emerge, what we call the public opinion. The street education permits to give back to the public space its ancestral social and political function of AGORA.

To re-appropriate the street is an efficient way of fighting individualism, to favour intercultural exchanges and to contribute to new social links. The street can become not only a place of movement (more and more privatized) but a space of meeting, sharing where citizens can meet each other and discuss about how the world is going on.

DIFFERENTS TOOLS FOR DIFFERENT PEOPLE

To create such spaces in the street, the association co-developed some innovative methodology of citizen’s participation based on social interaction in public space. In the street, we can find and reach a large panel of citizens that reflect the diversity of our society (heterogeneous public) and our approach is including these diversities. We developed different tools as a different way to interact with different people and to make ourselves more accessible.

 

OUR STREET DEVICES

We experimented with a tool composed of three spaces:

  • a place for listening and express: the word carrier
  • a place for documentaries: the street exhibition
  • a playful place: street game

This tool permits the citizens to choose three ways to participate: for those tired of hearing certain ideas, who want to share their feelings and ideas about a subject, there is the Word Carrier, for others who do not want to speak, they are welcome to discover the original exhibition (and understand what it is about) and finally for some people that are allergic to all kinds of messages, they will be more attracted by the game.

Thanks to our project, the street education methodology and philosophy will be adapted to the Global Education thematic in order to bring the global issues closer to the citizens.

 | BASTIEN FILLON