In this year, 2018, we have continued our cooperation with schools in Bujanovac through “We and the Others”, a professional development seminar. The seminar is intended for teachers of social and humanistic sciences and languages, is accredited for the competences of intercultural and interethnic cooperation, and is particularly adapted to the cultural characteristics of this community. The program has so far encompassed eight elementary and high schools, while all elementary and high schools in the municipality of Bujanovac will be included in the school year 2018/2019. This year, we held to seminars for teachers.
The initial idea of the seminar is to present to the participants that the topic of interculturalism can be addressed through the prism of local social history and the history of everyday life. The training includes 2 days of lectures, after which the participants apply the acquired knowledge and skills in working with school students, through a research or an experimental class.
On the first day, the psychologist Vera Erac holds the introductory workshop with participants in order to problematise stereotypes, as well as relationships with the “others”. Through dialogue, the seminar participants question prejudice, positive and negative stereotypes, accessing different concepts, social phenomena, as well as culture, religion and race through some of the ingrained attitudes in our communities.
Historian Sanja Petrović Todosijević, in her lecture, provides the participants with a theoretical framework that includes the methodology of researching local (social) history. She also talks about why it is important to research the lives of ordinary people in multicultural communities through various school subjects.
In the next presentation, artist Ivana Bogićević Leko presents the participants with examples of mini research of high school students in other multinational communities in Serbia conducted within the Group 484 practice, while Tamara Cvetković, from the Group 484 Educational Program, presents a Bujanovac example of family history in photographs, as well as the topics that could be researched based on photographs, but also the ways of examining family history in literature and visual arts.
On the second day of the seminar, Ivana Bogićević Leko runs a workshop “From a family album”. Within the workshop, photographs and old items from family houses, brought by both the participants and the team of lecturers, become a cause for discussion about the habits, customs and consequences of social changes on everyday lives of people. The aim of the workshop is to suggest that photographs and old items can serve as relevant historical sources.
After the workshop, a team of teachers from “Vuk Karadžić” elementary school from Levosoje conveys their experiences from the seminar, as well as experiences in conducting mini research work with the school students.
The second part of the day is planned for the work of teachers in small groups where they design extracurricular activities for their students. The task for teachers is to, with the help of the team of lecturers, select topics and design the research work with school students, as well as the form of presentation of research results.
After the two-day seminar, teachers carry out the designed research in working with school students and, at the end they present the obtained results. The idea is for the research presentations to have a form of a public event that enriches the life of school and involves its students, teachers and the community. Such events encourage interaction between students and teachers within a school and among different schools, communities are informed about local topics and creative approaches to teaching are instigated.
“Branko Radičević” elementary school can be emphasised as an example of good practice, since its teachers held a public presentation of their research called “When Hands Speak” in the Cultural Centre in Bujanovac. The aim of the research was to draw attention to the situation of people with hearing impairment, as well as to the problems and challenges they faced. School students were introduced with both the Braille Alphabet and sign language, and they applied the learnt skills through dramatisation of a fairy tale and the performance of a song adapted to hearing impaired persons. In the hall of the Cultural Centre there was an exhibition of works of school students created in the research process.
Another group of teachers from “Branko Radičević” school presented their research “Hop Hop”, during which school students mapped the most influential musical directions of the last decades, but also their influence on local bands and musicians they had interviewed. All students from the school, as well as all teachers and the local population participated in the presentation, since the gathering had a humanitarian character.
Teachers from “Sezai Suroi” school, together with their students, conducted a research “Fashion in my town, now and then”. By using photographs from family albums, school students reviewed the culture of dressing of their parents and grandparents, defining the various social and economic influences that led to increased freedom in dressing.
Pastry cooks from “Sveti Sava” vocational school joined the research of pastry craftsmanship in Bujanovac. At the presentation named “Sugar, you are so sweet”, school students presented interviews with employees in the two oldest pastry shops in Bujanovac, about the shopping habits of their fellow citizens but also about making sweets, which changed over the years. School students demonstrated how cakes and pastry were made now and then, pointing to the influence of technology development on pastry craftsmanship, which also manifested itself in the change in the form of recipes collection and exchange.
Teachers of “Vuk Karadzic” elementary school researched a very demanding and comprehensive topic: “The position of women in my town, now and then”. While studying folk poetry, school students presented the women’s image of that time, as well as their position and role in relation to the poetry; then, through the works of Bora Stankovic, they reflected on the breakthrough of female characters, as well as women’s topics in Serbian literature; at the end, through the experiences of grandmothers and mothers they made a parallel between the lives of women before and after the liberalisation of society, reflected in their expectations, possibilities, as well as realised freedoms, all in relation to origin, culture, religion, etc.
The second group from “Vuk Karadzic” elementary school in Levosoje and group from “Bora Stankovic” elementary school in Klenike presented cultural monuments, shops, bakeries, youth gathering places, as well as public institutions and other places of their town, underlining their significance and influence on lives of the local population. By using photographs taken by school students and teachers from family albums, they presented how town architecture changed social life, and vice versa – how social changes led to changes in public spaces.
“Naim Frašeri” elementary school had an excellent presentation “Games, now and then”. The final grade students presented interviews with older fellow citizens about games from their childhood and compared them with the current games, highlighting similarities among different generations and among children of different religious, cultural and national identities. The presentation was also attended by younger school students, which was also an experimental class as a good example of implementation of this type of research in teaching.
Project: Our town, our schools
Objective: Contribution to the development of interculturalism, both in the school environment and in the everyday life of children and adults in Bujanovac.
Implementers: Group 484 (“We and the Others” Educational Program) and the Government of Serbia Coordination Body for the Municipalities of Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa
Support: Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation