Social Circus is a pedagogy for personal and social development, applying circus arts as tool for mainly disadvantaged and marginalized children and youth. This innovative pedagogy creates and utilizes joy, enthusiasm, and fun to energize, stimulate and drive its participants. It focuses on the positive resources, talents and interests in each individual and develops them collectively through fun and joy.
Very often people mistakenly identify and measure our work with its artistic, athletic and cultural or entertaining aspects and values although for us those are only tools for personal and collective development and healing. Our Pedagogy of Social Circus is result of 17 years of passionate work with literally millions of children who mostly effected by war. As we had no pedagogic background we became observing researchers fully listening to the children and learning from them. Our centers became the paradise of possibilities, and laboratory of crazy ideas, and a source of fun and inspiration. We gradually structured our accumulated experiences and knowledge to a comprehensive pedagogy and later along the way after a few years we were told by some visitor artists that what we do is actually a pedagogy called Social Circus.
Some of the main unique specifications of our pedagogy are as follow:
- Focusing on the positive and possibilities instead of the problems and insufficiency
- Inclusiveness as there are always some arts, skills, and acts for any child to be fascinated by and participate with
- Joy and enthusiasm is the main drive instead of any hard disciplines and obligations
- Amazing, fantastic, visible and still easily, achievable triumphs in different skills which motivates participants to continue and follow up
- Reaching extremely many children with minimum resources and our multiplication system
- Fully Integrated in the local cultures and therefor sustainable such as our now traditional annual festivals
Our EDU-Performances are developed to not only convey a life supporting and often essential message to the audience but also to engineer the perfect behavior and response toward the subjects of the performances. The pedagogy of our shows transform the information to a concrete set of feelings, attitudes and reactions in children. For example instead of accumulating information about the landmines in children’s brain we simply focus on the perfect reaction to the hazardous situation. Then during the performance stimulate children’s feelings and encourage them to identify and respond accordingly with that perfect reactions. For polio, malaria or drug for example the problem are visualized as the “bad guy” in the shows where children not only cognitively “understand” them but also emotionally obtain a healthy attitude to avoid them.
Note: all the performances with or without any educational messages have many other psychosocial and therapeutic benefits for children and the entire community which are extremely valuable in a country in a war for ages.
MMCC started with its popular Hand-washing show which continues to be one of the most essential shows and valid anywhere in the world. This performance has just been performed and enjoyed by and for Rohingya children in their refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Following is some of the popular MMCC’s EDU-Performances which are developed and performed in different provinces of Afghanistan:
- Landmine Awareness
- Hand Wash (Hygiene)
- Peace Education
- Back to School (importance of Education)
- Drug Abuse
- Child Labor
- Malaria Prevention
- Polio Vaccination
- Nutrition and Mother’s Milk
The Social Circus and the joy and fun it brings is not just an entertainment or cultural activity. The way activities and performances developed with our pedagogy is a pure collective therapy in its best.
Multiplication means always keeping an eye on the horizon. It means always making sure the activities reach far beyond those directly involved – who obviously benefit by both learning and having fun. The formula and the system developed by MMCC has brought our performances to 3.8 million children in Afghanistan.
- 2-3 trained kids or youth is enough to organize a social circus session
- 40 is a good size of a team of children to play and learn basic circus skills
- 15 is a good size of an average performance team of the most active of these children and youth
- 500 is a good average number of audience, fx in a school
- 3 is a minimum number of shows a team with only small support can make in a school season
- 2 is the normal number of school seasons in most countries
2 x 3 x 500 = 3,000 is the minimum number of children reached by one social circus team in a year
Add a couple of local and national events a year – and the audience reached by the shows soon become 5,000 or more. By ONE team of 15 kids and youth – selected among a Social Circus team of 40 trained by 2-3 other kids or youth – who learned from being part of a circus.
Social Circus is a perfect tool for engaging huge numbers of children and youth – because it is fun and everyone can join. Because it is easy to learn the basic and from there, it is endless how long and how much you can improve.
Any kid and youth who join Social Circus obviously benefits by both learning and having fun. It is good, but they are few and in war zones there are MANY children and youth with same needs.
If you grow up in a war zone you learn to share. Circus is a perfect tool for sharing – because it is simple and because it is fun to show your skills. Because it is healing to feel the energy from a big cheering, clapping and laughing audience.
In Afghanistan 1,500 kids and youth juggle and practice social circus every day or several days each week. 1500 kids in teams of average 40 – always with an eye on the horizon. This means more than 35 performance teams x 5000 = 175,000 audiences per year. For and by children and youth, with only very little support.
Multiplication is an ideology of reaching as many as possible rather than focusing only on few. The few, those who obviously benefit directly from learning and having fun each time they meet, play and practice, are thereby not the actual and final target or beneficiaries. By facilitating these children and youth to share what they learn, they soon become Joy Makers – providers of Joy.
The real focus of multiplication is following the entire community. It is the families, the schools, the children who live in the refugee camps and the general public who all need a moment of smile.
Where every child is acknowledged, a community can blossom. A primary target group and main concern of the MMCC are the challenged children and youth including orphans, handicapped, street working- and internally displaced children living in refugee camps. These are the most vulnerable in society. Through comprehensive outreach programs, children from all different backgrounds are involved in the activities. Our direct work with our children as participants, artists and audience is a practical advocacy for children and their rights. All the positive promotions of children rights including incorporated messages in the shows and medias produced by professionals and children are other results of our advocacy.
MMCC has developed very cost effective semi-permanent bases of activities by modifying shipping containers into colorful multi functional rehearsal and performance spaces. Equipped with circus, media- and play equipment, the Funtainers serve as activity bases for children in local communities to meet, practice and participate in different activities on their own with only very little practical support of adults. At the moment we have 28 Funtainers in different provinces of Afghanistan in public places such as refugee camps, orphanages and schools.