The circus is not just what happens inside a spectacular tent. A powerful socio-cultural tool capable of influencing the learning and development of children, a movement that still has much to develop.
Let’s close our eyes. Now let’s imagine several coloured maces scattered on the floor, a trapeze still swinging, some red fabrics hanging from the ceiling and a pair of unicycles leaning against the wall. What comes to mind?
The vast majority will have thought of entertainment, of large circus tents and artists capable of doing implausible things. Very few could think of children and the use that can be given to all these elements in the field of community and socio-cultural revitalization.
The circus stands as a pedagogical proposal in which physical, relational and psychological aspects are included. Through the different disciplines not only physical condition and motor skills are developed, but also creativity and diverse social skills such as communication or cooperation.
This concept of the circus, beyond the show and mere entertainment, is still relatively unknown for those who are not curious about this world, despite the fact that the first social circus projects and schools began to appear. There is the figure of the circus educator, and the circus is seen as an important tool from a pedagogical point of view.
How the circus contributes to the physical and mental development of children and young people is also reflected in the long list of aspects that are dealt with indirectly in the practice of the different disciplines, such as cooperation, teamwork, taking responsibility, mutual respect, assertiveness, conflict resolution, self-improvement and acceptance of one’s own limitations.
On the other hand, working through art encourages creativity, and the fact that children and young people see what they are capable of increases their confidence, which also works on their self-esteem.
The circus is an excellent critical and integrating tool. The spirit of the circus is based on the group and on diversity: if the group does not work, nothing can be carried out satisfactorily, one must work together and collaborate, not compete.
With respect to diversity, the circus allows young people to express themselves freely, regardless of the social context they come from or their age. All this means that more and more education professionals are deciding to use one of the circus disciplines as a teaching tool.
Within this field, we also find the great benefits of carrying out this type of activity with children and young people at risk of exclusion who, due to this situation, often suffer from a lack of affection and are unable to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence (whether physical or verbal), which has a negative impact on other aspects of their lives, such as their self-esteem or personal undervaluation.
There are more and more groups and associations that, from self-financing, decide to go out on the streets and carry out this type of initiative.
When we close our eyes again and think about the image described at the beginning, it will be difficult to conceive the circus only as a show. There is much more behind the final performance than the hours of rehearsal, and in this case, the most important thing is not the result, but the whole learning process.