Guilherme Fraenkel
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

To think about the evasion of young people from spiritist centers, which is a demand that has existed for some time in our spiritist education efforts, leads us to think about the expectations we have built on our loved ones who have been led with great joy to the “kids lessons” since they were little. It is perhaps to think about the role that spiritism and the Spiritist House play in our lives at the various stages of our incarnational opportunities and beyond.

Since I got involved with the activities of children and youth Spiritist education at the end of the last century, around 1998, and more intensely after I joined movements of reflection on the role of Spiritist education in the spiritist movement, I have heard intense concerns about the high rates of young people dropping out of Spiritist education classes. 

As coordinator of a Spiritist education center for children and youth in Rio de Janeiro, I have been working on this issue with a lot of intensity and attention in order to build a systemic vision that can be useful for the maturing of our activities of support to the doctrinal dissemination, but mainly of support to the incarnate and disincarnate spirits who walk with us for several years during this very important period of life where we build knowledge and establish habits in a meaningful way for the entire incarnational process.

From my experience, the evasion of young people is perceived informally in many spiritist centers in the regions of Rio de Janeiro and adjacent cities as something significant. Some centers manage to obtain better statistics, but always essential when we compare the number of children in the final cycles of child evangelization and the number of teenagers and young adults who keep regularly attending the evangelization activities offered.

In our observations, we noticed that besides the great evasion, there are two important aspects that can help us think about the integration of the youth into the spiritist movement and that should not leave our attention.

First, we notice that the movement of admission into the spiritist house through the Spiritist education centers for youth is small when compared to the entry into childhood and adulthood. 

A second phenomenon that we consider interesting is the great interest of this age group in digital initiatives through social networks and profiles that debate matters in the light of the spiritist doctrine using structures of dialogue and production of knowledge quite characteristic and distinct from the usual means practiced in spiritist houses.

When I observe these three phenomena, the high dropout rate, the small entry rates, and the large adherence to digital channels that speak about spiritualism with dynamic language and with fewer layers of formal control, I notice connections that invite me to think not only about the causes of evasion, but effectively about the reasons that lead young people into the spiritist centers.

Unfortunately we have not yet been able to address systematized efforts of data collection on these movements of arrival and departure of young people in the Spiritist education centers and the lack of a directed research on the subject leads us to think about the subject of the evasion of young people from the Spiritist education in a superficial way, directed by our individual impressions and isolated perceptions of each spiritist center without being able to apply much science to better understand the phenomenon.

Even in the face of so many difficulties in thinking in the light of science about youth dropout, I learned about the need to consider the relationship we build with the people who attend the spiritist house, a perspective that is also pointed out by writer Álvaro Chrispino in his book ‘Família, Juventude e Educação’ (Family, Youth and Education), when he shows us that the relational space is very important for a significant portion of young people who attend spiritist centers. 

But do we understand the expectations of the one who decides to walk with us on this journey of overcoming, of self-knowledge, and of self-improvement through Spiritism? 

What can we offer to the incarnate and disincarnate spirits who seek the spiritist center? What do they want? What are they looking for?

What can we offer to the babies, the parents, uncles and grandparents of our Children Spiritist Education, to children of kindergarten age, and to children in their first more conscious experiences in the first stage of elementary school when they are literate? 

What contributions can we offer to the immortal spirit that is beginning to feel the intensity of life through its school dives of discovery of the world through the second stage of elementary and high school? 

What tools do we offer to incarnate spirits in their early adult years when they are engaged in building their own family cells and need to enter the labor market?

I think that in each phase of life, the subject brings priority issues that naturally attract his gaze, triggering him to choose the paths of solution of these issues over others.

When we established the concept of a gospel practice laboratory in our Spiritist Education center with the idea of bringing human relationships, its conquests and conflicts to the centrality of our effort of Spiritist philosophy dissemination, we began to realize that we had great difficulty in listening to and perceiving the expectations of children, young people, and their families. Consequently, our offering was poor and often lacked connection to the individual, the family, and society.

Today, I think that this difficulty in listening to those in attendance may be an important factor in the establishment of weak relational ties that contribute in some way to the higher dropout rates in youth.

It is exactly in youth that the individual gains more freedom of coming and going and power of choice. It is also at this stage that he begins to detach himself from relationships that, in his view, do not contribute or conflict with his well-being in an objective way. Perhaps it is not by chance that at this stage we notice higher dropout rates.

I am not sure if the departure of a young person from the spiritist house is cause for alarm or for celebration. Perhaps the young student has captured all the knowledge he has found useful and is only moving on to new flights by recognizing the need for further experiences.

Perhaps the future of the spiritist house, contrary to what many say, is not the spiritist youth, but rather the incarnate spirits who acknowledge in the spiritist teachings a valid and important offer of reasoned tools for the resolution of their intimate conflicts and to support their spiritual growth.

From my personal experience, I often ask myself if, as Spiritist educators and those responsible for Spiritist education centers, we are prepared to offer spaces of relationship with young people through which they can perceive the possibility of practical application of everything they learned in childhood.

Are we being able to offer a laboratory where life technologies and new knowledge can be dynamically generated and applied to meet the active and entrepreneurial capacity of young people?

Today, more than twenty years after my first flirts with Children Spiritist Education, I think that we cannot treat the young person’s avoidance of the activities in an isolation way. We need to integrate more deeply the sectors of spiritist houses and even the spiritist houses themselves into the spiritist movement.

We need to engage in more dialogue with society and the trends it follows so that our offer comes closer to the public’s expectations and can offer Spiritism in all its potential as a tool for decision-making and for guiding the subject’s maturing processes.

Bibliographic References:

– O Progresso – Léon Denis – editor CELD (PT)

– O Grande Enigma – Léon Denis – editor FEB (PT/EN/FR/ES)

– Blessed are the Poor in Spirit – The Gospel According to Spiritism – chapter VII – Allan Kardec – editor FEB (PT/EN/FR/ES)

– Conviver para amar e servir – Sonia Regina Hierro Parolin e Reinaldo Nobre Ponte – editor FEB (PT)

– Modernidade Líquida – Zygmunt Bauman – editor‎ Zahar (PT/EN/FR/ES)

– Você Quer o que Deseja? – Jorge Forbes – editor Manole (PT)

– A metacognição como estratégia reguladora da aprendizagem – Graciela Inchausti de Jou e Tania Mara Sperb (PT/EN)
https://www.scielo.br/j/prc/a/sSCMC3HhLZ5vV3pSKM9ycqc/?lang=pt

– Learnability: uma habilidade para a vida – Patricia Dalpra (PT/EN)
https://ofuturodascoisas.com/learnability-uma-habilidade-para-a-vida/

– Esclarecimento, educação e autonomia em Kant – Paulo César Nodari e Fernando Saugo
http://www.ucs.br/etc/revistas/index.php/conjectura/article/view/892 (PT)

– Mundo BANI: Conheça o conceito e esteja preparo para ele (PT)
https://menvie.com.br/mundo-bani/

– Facing the Age of Chaos – Jamais Cascio (EN)
https://medium.com/@cascio/facing-the-age-of-chaos-b00687b1f51d

Guilherme Fraenkel, carioca from 1976, systems analyst, Family Constellation and psychotherapist in training, is a Spiritist speaker and coordinator of the nucleus of Children and Youth Spiritist Education at Casa Espírita Cristã Maria de Nazaré in Rio de Janeiro/RJ. 

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