“THINK ABOUT YOUR PERCEPTION OF DIVERSITY”
An exhibition is a collection of objects or results in a museum, a gallery or an exhibition of works for the show, providing the public with creative output. Our exhibition of student works under the name ‘Think About Your Perception of Diversity’ took place during mobility in Poland in October 2016. Direct preparations for the event lasted a few weeks before the arrival of our guests. However, we started many months ago. Workshops, trainings, discussions, presentations during extracurricular activities were aimed at preparing young people to understand the problem of differentness, diversity, different types (cultural, linguistic, religious …) – multiculturalism differently understood by students.
Our intention and the main goal was to organize such a show so that the exhibition was received by young participants of the program with all senses. We wanted to depart from the traditional scheme of the exhibition, where, through the use of photographs, pictures or drawings, the problems and issues are presented. We used tools such as multimedia presentations, audio recordings, artwork, creative workshops, art / science classes, and concert of classical music . In the initial stage we have taken a number of extracurricular activities devoted to the analysis of diversity, discussion of this problem. Young people have found examples of differences in our school / environment to understand better this social problem. Discussions on different types of differences in our school and surrounding environment have led to deep reflections. Tasks in the form of situational scenarios, presentations, analysis of written materials developed in them a sense of tolerance and respect for the other person’s innocence. This initial stage was of great importance for further stages of project work. Students had a good foundation and a solid understanding of the problem of linguistic, cultural, social and religious diversity, which made each task come with enthusiasm, knowing how to treat the problem of otherness.
1. Multimedia presentations
Each school prepared a presentation according to its own purpose (according to the topic of the task). Romania presented the folk traditions of the Romanian village, Italy presented the artwork of its own pupils – drawing form, clay and glass works. France has involved the entire project team in developing a scientific model; Greece presented the musical talents of its school, and our students created presentations of national dances and embroidery of particular regions of Poland. This huge variety of shows was a great opportunity to discuss cultural differences, search for common elements but above all, made the students aware that despite all these differences, we are all one and we can understand; that diversity enriches life / country.
2. Audio / video recordings
The ten- minute film created by our group is about the problems of youth. ‘Social Problems’ is an in-depth analysis of young people struggling with the problems of rejection, addiction, escape from home, inability to cope with themselves during difficult adolescence. Our students, on the basis of their own observation and contact with the environment, have created videos that show how loneliness, rejection and lack of acceptance by peers lead to isolation and rebellion against everyone and everything. The video on the problems of Polish youth was an example of different systems of education, parents’ approach to the problems of their children. This is another example of the assumption that exclusion occurs in schools and that weak individuals are not able to cope with problems at the student-student / peer-to-peer level. The English-language film is now a school library and is used by our teachers for classroom activities and educational hours.
3. Artistic work
Each pupil’s artwork contained a detailed description, thus giving a better understanding of the work and enhancing the difference. All the works of the students concerned their perception of diversity in the school and the local environment. Diversity – physical, cultural, social, economic. We showed it through art – this way students can express themselves without taboos and everything is a matter of personal interpretation. Also important is the emotional impact on young artists. This has helped and has led to the elimination or reduction of stress in adolescents, the improvement and growth of self-esteem, confidence and confirmation that there is no room for prejudice. Everyone could present it in any way – the only condition: work had to be about the other and its perception. Students’ presentations, papers, discussions, common tasks involved all participants in active work
4. Creative workshops
Classes at the Gingerbread Interactive Museum in Toruń. English classes focused on the history of Toruń, the tradition of baking gingerbread, learning the ingredients necessary for the production. The students themselves carried out the whole process of baking their own gingerbreads, recognizing typical elements of Polish culture. The students from the partner schools had the opportunity to learn about the flavors of Polish gingerbread, to learn Polish art of baking and to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the medieval Polish city – the whole workshop, historical costumes, traditional equipment of the factory were a small lesson of Polish history for our friends. It is a way to teach tolerance and respect for other cultures.
5. Art classes
Polonez dance and gala at school, closing the visit to our school. Already from the very beginning of our partners in Wąbrzeźno we have conducted a series of dance / music / artistic classes that make up the exhibition of activities within the framework of the results of intellectual work. We began with the presentation of national dance as an element of the beginning of the high school balls in upper secondary schools. The rehearsal, and then we organized a gala show for the authorities of the school, the city, teachers, parents and other students. It was a great opportunity to broaden their knowledge of cultural elements – the ballroom, explain the meaning of the name and describe its tradition. We recorded the whole DVD for all participants of the project. There was also a broadcast on our local television; the project’s website, the international project website, the dissemination platform for the project. Young people have acquired another element of Polish culture, noticed differences in the culture of their own country and returned home richer by more cultural elements.
6. Concerts of classical music
Students participated in music classes at the Fryderyk Chopin Museum in Szafarnia, where young Chopin spent his holidays. Students learned new facts about Chopin’s life and work, took part in a short piano concert, and gave some demonstrations of their own musical skills (Greek-music school students). This kind of music was not difficult in perception, because the youth themselves declared their willingness to participate in such a party, wanted to learn Polish music and to compare it with the music of their own country.
On the basis of direct observations of pupils, discussions and discussions with them, the surveys we have conducted have created a picture of young people actively engaged in social activities, positively oriented to change, diversity, different types. The exhibition highlights the fact that DIVERSITY in different countries is perceived differently from another perspective. By evaluating our work, we learned that by participating in the event, students gained new knowledge of the musical, dance and culinary elements. The encounter with Polish culture, direct participation in organized events made them aware of the diversity of European cultures, the reflection of comparison with their own national culture, the acceptance of otherness. Evaluation of these activities has shown that we have achieved our goals and that the project responded to the actual needs of students and teachers and was implemented correctly. The youngsters were satisfied by claiming that they had increased their knowledge of otherness, resulting in greater awareness of diverse cultures and tolerance for otherness. Preparing expositions of student work on diversity is a full realization of the goal – breaking taboos, respecting others, learning tolerance, overcoming stress, shyness, increasing motivation and self-esteem. This is a turning point in thinking – each nation is different and has a different culture; there are no better and worse, more important and less important. Through interactive play and tasks during the show, participation in training and workshops reinforced the students, added courage, showed that they are as good as their peers to perform tasks and simultaneously self-fulfill and mentally reinforce through active engagement in project work.
Upon completion of this study, we can see and we are convinced that we have reached our goal. This procedure, this way of organizing the task, was a tool for students to enable them to think critically, identify material, and acquire knowledge by interpreting their own perspectives, always allowing for personalized meaning creation. In addition, through these shows, each state has had the opportunity to present its guests with a small portion of local culture. Every time the elements of traditional culture were performed, typical music from each country. In this way diversity is more than obvious.
This whole experience has given students not only the idea of how diversity and respect can be learned through diverse activities and activities. In contrast to studying this transformation through literature, films, books, and tools, it offered the idea of interactive learning, in the form of a variety of interactive exhibits, taking into account the key skills, personality and taste of each student as instrumentalist, singer, dancer, audience member. We believe that engaging in such activities extends creatively superfluous energy to teenagers, makes the value more diverse, and thus increases their visibility, thereby forcing the link between youth, violence, or almost intimidating and cultivating respect for one another. Moreover, it is aware that each country is heterogeneous, different, with different values. We intend to keep conducting activities related to the exhibition: organize exercises and tasks for subsequent youth groups, subsequent classes preparing them and teaching acceptance of differences. For this purpose we will use materials developed in this project – tested in other student groups.
Below you can find a description of the different arts work made by the students of the 5 partners’ countries.
Works made by French students
LA BOULE MAGIQUE