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    REPORTS - GERMANY - 1st report

    Cultural Vehicles in Education - assisting the needs of vulnerable social groups

    Die Wille gGmbH

    15.02.2008/ revised 13.03.2008

    Pilot workshops. Please describe the profile of the group and the recruitment process

    Profile of learners: 13 women, 3 men, migration background: 5, German citizens: 10, non-German citizens: 1. Aged under 25: 2; between 25-29: 1; between 30-39: 3; between 40-49: 6; between 50-54: 3; between 55-65: 1.
    Education: Hauptschule (secondary school minor level): 1 m(ale)/7 f(emale); Realschule (secondary school higher level): 2 m/3 f; Abitur (university entrance diploma): 2 f; university: 1 f; without vocational training: 5 f; vocational training: 2 m/6 f.
    The participants are in a project which is carried out by Die Wille gGmbH, department "Arbeitsförderung" with a duration of half a year to one year maximum and which assists the needs of unemployed people. The reasons for the participants's unemployment are different; many of the women are mothers, some of them single parents. The project has the goal to help the participants to develop strategies for their further personal growth, self confidence and integration into a normal working process. It is not at all a formal training for a special job!
    During the project the participants work in kindergartens and day care centers, helping the staff in training the children`s verbal competences in German and in assisting them with their homework. The age of the children ranges from half a year to approximately 8 years. The institutions are located in Berlin`s district Neukoelln, with a high ratio of socially disadvantaged groups; approx. 50 % of the population has a migration background (Turkish, Arabian or other backgrounds).
    In addition to this project, the participants learn in the frame of the Grundtvig- CVE-Project to reflect upon their life, to enhance their competences, personal and social skills by creative methods and subjects. The workshops are oriented partly on the work with children and the connected problems, but transgress this field in targeting the participants's own vital issues and their reflection in their individual and cultural background. (according to the attached list of issues, Attachment 1)

    Please describe the main activities taken at this stage of the project

    At this stage of the project the learners have participated in the following activities:
    A course in which they learned training methods for practicing correct German usage with the children in the institutions in question. This course had a duration of 5 weeks, once a week on Mondays and is now completed. The participants learned how to use word games and poems, playing with language and pronunciation, which also helped them to express themselves better than before.

    The language deficits of the children result from the fact that in many migrant families, no German is spoken, or, if so, with a very limited vocabulary. Moreover, there is a general problem that exists in migrant families as in German ones: There is not enough verbal communication between the parents and the children bordering on neclect. The parents are simply not aware of the importance of communication for the development of a small child. This course was taught by the director of a day care center, who has developed the method, which is already published in a book.
    The CVE-workshops take place once a week on Fridays and will be supplemented by 3 workshops of several days' duration. (a four-days' workshop in April "The Art of Story-Telling - From Myth, Fairy Tales to Rap"; a two-weeks' workshop in May "Theatre and Role-Playing"; and a four-days workshop in July).The topics are described in Attachment 1.
    As yet, 3 sessions have taken place, the first in December 2007, the second on February 8th and the third on February 15th 2008. The topics are described in Attachment 1 - Curriculum, Point 1 and 2; and attachment 2 - Learning sequence "Inner Child".

    Please describe any problems or difficulties at this stage of the project and the actions taken to overcome them

    As the participants have been mostly long time unemployed, they are pleased to be needed at their momentarily working place in the kindergartens and Day care centres. They sometimes feel they are wasting their time with other theoretical and practical  courses situated in the life-long-learning field. It is important to motivate them, to help them understand and accept that it is necessary for them to become familiar with the previously unknown methods and strategies, which they do not know from their previous "formal" vocational education experiences. The motivation consists mainly in giving them the feeling they are being estimated and respected. The focus is upon their competences and skills, not upon their deficits. The creative approach is not only designed to teach the learners issue related facts from the field of pedagogics, but to enable them to adopt as their own the methods that are taught in a vivid communication process within the group. ("Themenzentrierte Interaktion" by Ruth Cohn).

    In what way did the educational and artistic activities interact? Please give some specific examples.

    To get in touch and to introduce themselves, partner interviews, based on questionnaires, were used at the beginning:
    The partners introduce one another to the group. The group gives positive feedback: What did we like about the way the interview was conducted? This creative method enables the learners to get to know one another and to communicate on varying levels. Initial insecurity is overcome by working with the partner, communication techniques are learned and consciously realized by the participants.
    The topic "childhood" was worked on by using games, brainstorming, discussion and reflection about one's own experience, with ones own and with other children, implementing poetry of several authors dealing with the topic childhood. (See attachment 3)

    How did the arts-based educational activities help the participants to:

    1. acquire certain competences and skills
    2. facilitate knowledge assimilation (learning specific information)

    Please give some specific examples.

    The arts-based educational activities helped the participants to develop their creative potentials, to enhance their social and communication competences; they learned to reflect upon their own learning strategies and different techniques of communication.
    Knowledge assimilation happens in many ways, e.g. information on cultural assets, like poetry and on the principles which have to be observed in education and bringing up children.

    Please reflect on progress made by individual persons (for example, increased motivation of a reluctant learner or better social skills of a shy participant).

    Shy people acquired enough self-confidence and trust in the group to be able to speak freely in front of several people - for the first time in their lives. Encouraged by the positive feedbacks, they ventured, more and more often, to express themselves in front of and within their peer group. Among other things, they learn that it can be helpful to articulate ones fears publicly ("I am excited/ nervous....) and that this is by no means "embarrassing".
    Two participants with severe physical handicaps (epilepsy and severe rheumatism) learned to trust in their own resources; they gained more self-esteem by experiencing the sympathy and the support of the group.


    Attachment 1: Curriculum >>>
    Attachment 2: Workshops >>>
    Attachment 3: Poetry, which was used in the workshop "Childhood" >>>

    The Bielskie Artistic Association Grodzki Theatre
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