Orlando Fals Borda, one of the fathers of participatory research, led the way to the development of a participatory methodology, through his study of Afro-Colombian people from the coastal regions of Colombia. Fals Borda dedicated most of his life to the study of comunidades campesinas. He was inspired and moved by the stories of the people and realized that knowledge should be created with the participation of common people, giving validity, voice and agency to their dreams and hopes, leading to social emancipation. Furthermore, Fals Borda held the view that participatory research should not just be a channel for research, but a way of life. Reflecting on the First World Congress on Participatory Research held in 1977, Fals Borda said,
“Una vivencia necesaria para progresar en democracia, como un complejo de actitudes y valores, y como un método de trabajo que dan sentido a la praxis en el terreno. A partir de aquel Simposio, había que ver a la IP no sólo como una metodología de investigación sino al mismo tiempo como una filosofía de la vida que convierte a sus practicantes en personas sentipensantes. Y de allí en adelante, nuestro movimiento creció y tomó dimensiones universals (Fals Borda quoted in Colmenares, 2011).
The word “sentipensante” brilliantly encapsulates the idea that thought and feeling merge into one as we embrace Dreamscaping and Lovescaping as a way of life. Sentir and pensar are still segregated, especially in academia, and Fals Borda was one of the first to push against the conventional establishment in giving voice and value and legitimizing other forms of knowledge. Eduardo Galeano beautifully expresses this further: “El lenguaje que dice la verdad, es el lenguaje Sentipensante. El que es capaz de pensar sintiendo y sentir pensando” (Galeano, 2008).
If we conceive of education as a way to teach the Sentipensante language, in which love is taught in terms of thought and feeling, we would be changing the way we think and act in the world. We spend so much time in academia asking the questions “what do you think?” But we never ask “how do you feel?” which I would argue is more important. Why do we refuse to talk about feelings, when they drive most of our actions? By ignoring this essential question, we fall into a trap of denial or dismissal. By ignoring any conversation about love as a feeling, love as an emotion, and love as action, we are missing the most important ingredient in our recipe.
Transferred to an education setting, through teaching the Sentipensante language, we would allow each student to strive at their own pace, in their own way and to explore their interests. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all model that can equally benefit everyone. By adopting Dreamscaping and Lovescaping, we allow for creativity and critical thinking to flourish. In the process, we develop a social conscience that makes us more aware of our neighbors’ needs and allows us to live in harmony within our community where our collective meaning and reality are shared through a “we.” Ubuntu.
Christian what are your thoughts on the Sentipensante?
Hi Irene, Sentipensante is a necessary component of Dreamscaping and Lovescaping. It sums up one of our central themes, – intentionality through awareness. In order to be fully conscious of not only our own dreams, but also the dreams of our friends and neighbors, we need to develop the social conscience of Sentipensante. When we speak our dreams into existence, it has to come from the place of love. When we are aware, we begin to live differently, and when that awareness is grounded in love, harmony follows.
Sentipensante is the internal dialogue that arises from our reflection and leads to intentionality. In education, Sentipensante fosters the internal dialogue necessary for Dreamscaping and Lovescaping. We must educate ourselves to speak with our self. If we are to communicate with one another, we must fist learn to communicate with ourselves. Sentipensante leads us to the place where we will be able to love. It teaches us that to love is to communicate, to understand, to share. Education centered on Sentipensante teaches us how to be with each other.
Education rooted in Sentipensante is the first step on the path of Dreamscaping and Lovescaping our world.