The green of the landscape and the warmth of the Irish people welcomed the SPACES consortium to yet another Transnational Project Meeting and to Learning, Teaching, Training Activities (26 to 29 September). Edmund Rice College, in the expanding town of Carrigaline, Cork, did the honors, assisting and leading the participants on a trip not only to Irish culture and history, but also to the reality of Irish schools.
Traditional Irish Dances beautifully performed by awarded dancer students and U2 songs sung by talented voices were the highlights of the reception that awaited the SPACES participants at Edmund Rice College, where we were warmly met by the principal, students and our partners of the Irish Erasmus Team.
A visit to the school facilities guided by students revealed ample, modern, well-equipped, classrooms and student/staff areas, connected by wide well-lit corridors, with walls and spaces decorated with student and teacher contributions, colorful informative graphics and motivational quotes and ideas to foster a good learning/teaching environment.
The TPM, held on the 26th of September, clarified pending matters and doubts regarding the development of the Intellectual Outputs and allowed time to discuss the tasks ahead, as proposed by the SPATIA Team, as well as to plan and schedule them.
The three days of LTT (27 to 29 September) introduced the participants to the real, daily practice of learning and teaching in the Irish national educational system, both from a student and a teacher’s perspective and in the specific context of this school.
During the LTT, insightful workshops on professional learning communities, teaching creatively, instructional leadership in the classroom and building learning power in students organized by the host team, were complemented by other valuable opportunities for learning and exchanging of good practices. Such was the case of our visit and attendance of an actual class of our choice, and of the home economics practical group activity led by students, in which a meal was prepared under their supervision and guidance. All participants considered these activities to have been particularly valuable, for they allowed for a privileged close contact with syllabuses, contents, methodologies, activities and classroom management practices other than their own. It also gave participants a chance to interact with Edmund Rice College students at a deeper level and to learn from their perspectives and views. Equally worthy of notice was the visit to the Kinsale College of Further Education, to learn about their off-the-grid creative methodologies for this level of education (resorting, for example, to permaculture or theatrical performances).
And last but never least, recognition is due to our Erasmus+ SPACES partners at the Edmund Rice College, for embarking with us on this trip through the beauty of the green landscapes, the ocean and the picturesque locations of Cork and Kerry Counties, and for sharing the priceless (in the words of Bing Crosby history, traditions and heritage of their country.
GREECE LTT AND TPM
The Third Short-Term Joint Staff Training Transnational Project Meeting
Creative Thinking Through Culture
Culture has the potential to play a distinct and unique role in bringing the ideals of quality education into practice; stimulating cognitive development, encouraging innovative thinking and creativity, engender understanding of the importance of cultural diversity and reinforce behavior patterns underlying social tolerance and understanding.
But has culture, indeed, become a practical tool in teachers’ hands for promoting the creativity of their students?
In general, educational activities typically focus on the importance of gaining skills that are useful in the workforce, and neglect the need to develop the ability to form creative, resilient and conscious behaviors. Under this scope and given the advantages of bringing culture into educational systems, reform is required.
For this reason a 3-day physical training event under the title “Creative Thinking Through Culture” was organized by CulturePolis, in Corfu, Greece on 31 May – 3 June 2022, including the transnational project meeting of the SPACES’s partners. The event addressed partners representatives – many of them were teachers of secondary education – utilizing culture and local cultural stories and examples as a significant tool for transmitting creativity attributes and creative thinking to students. It included theoretical and practical activities in order to motivate teachers and in extent students to stimulate their creative thinking in problem solving through their school education; a fact that will enable them to perceive this ability also into their adult life.
The event started with the Transnational Meeting of the partners (31 May 2022) where all project activities were discussed in detail, as well as the progress made on each of the current deliverables. Particular emphasis was placed on the the third intellectual output (IO3), which had just started. With regards to that IO, an interactive workshop in the form of a brainstorming exercise successfully took place and was led by the project coordinator, SPATIA.
The following days visits in cultural and educational organizations of the island, outdoors activities and city tours, workshops, speeches and presentations from distinguished executives of institutions, academics and experts took place. The places which hosted the training event were not selected by chance; all of them serve a different form of culture (a library, theatre and gallery). Indicatively, partners: ● visited the Central Public Historic Library of Corfu where they attend the workshop “Making Reading Books’ A Creative Learning Process”, ● participated in a guided tour in the Old Fortress given by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Corfu aiming to stimulate their creative teaching effectiveness. ● were hosted in the Municipal and Regional Theatre of Corfu (DI.PE.THE.), where they got informed about the educational theatrical programs the theatre organizes for children and teenagers. ● met local students, talked with them and learned about the Greek secondary educational system.
● attended an illustrating presentation and workshop on “Storytelling and Creative Writing in Museums” which was successfully given by the Curator of the National Gallery – Corfu Annex.
All in all, the training event in Corfu was conducted with great success and triggered the interest of not only the project partners but also the local actors – representatives of museums, galleries, libraries, teachers, students – who got involved and were more than willing to interact with people from other countries by exchanging ideas and thoughts on how to improve the educational system of Europe towards a more creative and innovative direction.