08 Oct School in Culture
School in culture
Culture-art education is a very important part of the educational process since it affects the integral development of an individual; this is why we practice it within the class and through numerous extra-curricular activities.
According to my experience, culture-art education is much more effective when performed outside school, since it enables the pupils to experience a fuller, up-to-date, multifaceted and experiential learning of culture and art. However, the teachers are faced with the challenge of selecting, planning and organizing appropriate contents, since they are expected to offer a wide range of activities which are free of charge, suitable for the child’s development phase, interesting, socially topical, cross-curricular, and also encourage and enable pupils to be active themselves.
One of the ways is connecting with cultural institutions which offer suitable culture-art programs or projects, and adapt to the school curriculum and timetable. Within the Theatre Playground project, Bunker (a non-profit organization for realization and organization of cultural events), among other things organizes the project School in Culture, which proved to be suitable and effective in performing culture-art activities outside school premises.
School in Culture is designed as a three-day discovering a city and its culture, following the example of School in Nature (open-air school). The activities are carried out outside school, are completely free of charge, designed with cross-curricular and experiential approaches; they reflect topical social developments and direct the pupils to critical reflection, thinking outside the box and their own creativity. They include attending theatre and music performances, art and other exhibitions, research sightseeing, theatre and creative workshops, and topical conversations.
13 pupils from Valentin Vodnik Primary School participated in School in Culture, which was held from 20th to 22nd February of 2017 in Ljubljana. The year before and the year after that, School in Culture was carried out in Maribor.
The pupils were staying at the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, they ate their meals at different pubs located in the vicinity of the cultural events they attended. The contents of the program had cross-curricular links. Through cultural events, tours and exhibitions the pupils learned different fields. The program included the teacher’s preparation for the cultural event and analysis after it. All tours had professional guidance and were based on experience. Through the program, the pupils also learned about the process of preparing a cultural event and many professions necessary to make a performance or an exhibition happen. They learned about the society, culture and space they live in from different perspectives. We encouraged them to critical reflection and arguing their opinions.
The accommodation at the theatre was a special experience for the pupils. They observed inscriptions on the doors and were able to take a peek behind them, they saw workshops and creators that cannot be seen on the theatre stage.
The head told us about the program, then the director-led theatre workshops. The pupils learned about different acting techniques and tried to improvise themselves. The director showed a great deal of sensibility and enthusiasm in his work. The head and I prepared the pupils through conversation for the evening play Antigona at the Drama National Theatre. Watching an evening show among adults was something the pupils hadn’t experienced before.
After the conversation about the evening performance, we visited the Museum of Architecture and Design at Fužine castle, where a graphic designer led us through her own exhibition. We saw graphically designed posters accompanied by sayings from everyday life of recent history or the socialist period of ex-Yugoslavia.
Then a curator-led us through the exhibition Final Destination: the Sea? where we learned about the ecological problems of plastic waste. The pupils saw a modern exhibition designed with artistic procedures. Not only findings, I find equally important adventures that keep an emotional imprint in us, which influences our behavior more effectively.
This was followed by the workshop Making Notes under the leadership of a designer who presented us her original schedule planners and the work of a graphic designer. She showed us how to make diary notes in the form of images, for example with sketches, drawings, photos, pictures from magazines, etc.
In Nove Fužine we got to know an apartment complex and its surroundings with historical background, interesting features and places. We talked about the first and the second generations of immigrants and their language. We tasted some delicious burek and chevapcici. I hope this was a step towards breaking down prejudice against this city’s area and its inhabitants.
In the center of the capital, a guide showed us some graffiti, stickers and other forms of street art. The pupils learned about different graffiti messages, graffitists, the scope of hip-hop culture and graffiti in Braille. Observing graffiti reveals a completely different view of the city and things that make its inhabitants excited or happy. It is possible to feel an expression of groups of interest, marginalized individuals.
At the cinema, we watched a youth film, Sonita, featuring an eighteen-year-old Afghan girl, a rapper, who manages to win recognition in the society despite numerous complications. In the conversation that followed the pupils were explained the cultural-historical background of the film, geographical and language features of the environment, where the film was made. The pupils were able to identify themselves with the main character, they understood her position, problems, behavior. We also discussed the role of women in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Europe. The pupils were led to critical reflection about the film’s plot.
After the youth theatrical performance Tajno društvo PGC (The Secret Society PGC) at the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre we met the actors and other theatre workers. We talked about the making of the play, theatre professions, the contents and adaptation of the story, unpredictable circumstances and ingenuity in such cases.
The creative supervisor led us through hidden places of the Puppet Theatre, where we saw the creating of puppets, costumes, scenery, as well as the wardrobes, mask room, storage, etc. We were given a special opportunity to attend a rehearsal for a youth performance, where the pupils were allowed to participate – they practiced a rave dance.
The program was rich in topics and contents, it was an intertwined and integrally linked three-day event. The didactic variety and diverse contents encouraged the pupils to develop their cognitive, emotional and sensory abilities, enabling them to entirely experience the topics under consideration, and thus promoting active participation in the “learning process” and its effectiveness. The pupils’ contentment and the feeling they had fun, confirms my findings that they found the learning exciting and entertaining. A very important aspect of this project is developing critical thinking and the pupils’ own activity because today’s society needs such individuals for its progress.
Nataša Arčon Triler
Primary school Valentina Vodnika, Ljubljana