For almost two centuries, cigar workers in Cuba hired professionals to read aloud as workers rolled cigars. The books were chosen by the committees: novels, theater, philosophy, even revolutionary or daily posters. This is why some famous cigar brands have names like “Romeo and Juliet” or “Montecristo”. This intellectual environment of literate and illiterate colleagues has generated the first labor unions in the Americas, including The United Cigar Workers Union.
During the International Conference Day “Theatre, Health and Inequalities”, the professor at the IULM and Harvard Pier Luigi Sacco illustrated the Pre-texts project, which stems from an idea of Harvard professor Doris Sommer and is based on the Latin American model for the promotion of a holistic and inclusive education through the arts.
Pre-texts combines the pedagogy of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal with the approach of Friedrich Schiller, Maria Montessori and John Dewey. Books and texts are not sacred, but they are raw material with which to make art and create a new form of inclusive education, aimed above all at contexts of cultural deprivation such as the suburbs of Latin-American megalopolis, but also in Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, in Zimbabwe and China.
Pre-Texts is a pedagogical protocol that uses texts as “pretexts” to develop critical thinking. Re-evaluate texts that are considered difficult and reinterpret them by turning them into a rap or in a dance, in a fashion show or in a menu. The goal is not the knowledge of the contents of the text, but the acquisition of new skills such as the ability to analyze content, to perform it, to work in groups and create an artistic product.