Danilo Dolci (1924-1997) was a peacemaker and sociologist who first came to Sicily from the north of Italy in the beginning of the 1950s in order to study the conditions of society and try to find the possible elements of change. He organized the peasants in groups and with them fought with nonviolent actions against the government who didn’t do enough in order to change the tragic situation of people living in poor and violent conditions. Dolci and the peasants had a lot of success, they won a lot of civic battles and got new schools, new streets, a dam to irrigate the farms, new life conditions for the population.
In order to involve and empower people, Dolci developed the so called reciprocal maieutic, that is a method in which a group of persons (or at least 2 persons) meet and communicate in a way that allows the full and free participation of all the involved people. The encounter has educative aims and is based in the active listening of what everyone says, in the idea that cooperation is the base to the creative and positive achievements of the encounter (and in life), in the idea of personal responsibility and participation. Is also based in everyone’s personal experience and knowledge. This way all people are valorised and contributes actively to attain the operational objectives of the encounter.
In the context of education and training we see this method as a great resource that allow to discuss contents, to learn competencies and to reflect on specific issues. It can be used specially to develop creativity, communication skills, relationship skills, cooperation skills and active participation skills. At content level it is possible to discuss contents from the perspective of the personal experience each one has and to elaborate them from the perspectives of all reaching new insights and inputs. Reciprocal maieutic approach creates the safe context for people to express themselves, to discover, to be creative, to learn relational and communicational competencies, to feel valorised in their self as a human creature.
RMA was developed from the Socratic concept of maieutic. Is common to the concept of maieutic and reciprocal maieutic the idea that all human beings has the knowledge inside themselves. What differentiates both concepts is the fact that in Danilo Dolci knowledge comes from experience and it is necessary a reciprocal relationship to make this knowledge grow. There is not the maieut that brings out the pupils knowledge, they both learn from each other.
Danilo Dolci wrote over 50 books, some of them translated into more than ten different languages. He won the Lenin price for peace in 1957, and the Ghandi price in 1989; he was also a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for 3 times.
Before the day assimilates the stars, every morning I keep searching in my silence. I engage myself in the active initiatives. I know we have just began to comprehend that human beings can really learn only if they want to research and know how to do it together, and it is always risky to forget what one knows.
Danilo Dolci, 1984, The World is only one creature.