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    REPORTS - POLAND - 1st report

    Cultural Vehicles in Education

    Grodzki Theatre Association

    6th February 2008

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

    Profile of learners: people with physical and mental disabilities and senior citizens, aged 23-75, men and women (in equal proportions). They include beneficiaries with motor skill disabilities, mild mental disabilities, blind people, mentally-ill people as well as elderly citizens.16 participants were recruited in October, but only 7 decided to commit themselves to attend the course. Other participants stayed for a few classes as to see how they felt about the course, but due to their mental and psychological constraints did not decide to stay. Two new participants joined the group in December and three participants in January. The total number of participants is 12.Some beneficiaries work at our Vocational Rehabilitation Unit (a Printing House and Bookbindery), others are unemployed. They are people who feel socially excluded and often lack motivation to introduce changes into their lives. They spend their free time at home with little to do and no-one to visit. Most of them have a low level of education and no experience of further education courses. The few that finished universities or did A-levels bring their knowledge and expertise into the class, giving encouragement to the rest of the group.Expectations: they want to spend their free time in an interesting way, learn things useful in life, gain some knowledge and find friendsWe recruited beneficiaries from our Vocational Rehabilitation Unit, from daily care centres for mentally-disabled people and from senior citizens clubs. At the recruitment stage we decided to mix the educational activities with the artistic ones so that the educator and the artist were both present at the first few workshops. On 15t October we organized our first recruitment workshop - a combined education and theatre class with Piotr and Jan, our instructors, assisted by our monitoring expert, Renata. It was attended by 10 beneficiaries (out of 16 on the registration list). The next recruitment workshop took place on 29th October, and regular classes started on 5th November 2007. We also recruited in December to achieve the planned size of the group.

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

    1) recruitment (two pilot workshops in October - see above)

    2) employing project staff (October)

    3) organizing and running 1st partners' meeting in Bielsko-Biała on 22-24th November

    4) writing the programme and key competences for pilot workshops (November, modified in January)

    5) implementing pilot workshops: November, December, January - two separate modules: the educational one (4 hours a week) and the artistic one (4 hours a week), closely related

    6) designing and establishing project's website - (at the beginning operating at before the registration of the web address)

    7) generating key documents (reports structure, structure for pilot workshops documentation)

    8) A monitoring visit to Ostrava (24th January) - a meeting of the Polish and Czech team, including monitoring experts/researchers

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

    The main problems was the low frequency of beneficiaries in the first month of pilot workshops (November). Only 3-4 beneficiaries attended some classes. This problem was overcome through organizing some group events (celebrating St Andrew's Day, preparing for the Christmas Eve for the group) and adjusting the programme of the course to the needs and expectations of beneficiaries (introducing the elements of local traditions, for example St Andrew's Day and combining them with the previously introduced European heritage, for example writing the story of the meeting between St Andrew and Christ). The numbers increased and from December onwards there have been 8-10 beneficiaries at most classes (out of 12).A serious problem was generated by expectations of beneficiaries, who wanted the course to last longer than 8 months. This issue was given some time and thought during the workshops - beneficiaries expressed some fears of parting, losing the group, of loneliness. The instructors tried to point out to various possibilities of continuing such meetings by beneficiaries themselves, for example informally. One participant expressed an interest in taking up a further education course in art, which is a very positive step. Another difficulty is the diversification of the group in terms of their knowledge and skills as well as constraints. To address this problem, the instructors adopted a person-centered approach in teaching, encouraging the participants to do individual presentations and praising any positive developments to improve self-confidence of all members of the group.

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

    1. During one educational unit the participants listened to a fragment of Beethoven's IX symphony and practiced reciting "Ode to Joy" (the Polish translation of Schiller's poem). It helped them to interpret the meaning of the poem and made them more involved in learning about German and European history (Beethoven's times) and the literary genre of ode (8th key competency - Cultural awareness and expression - The ability to understand and respond emotionally to some European cultural works)

    2. Drawing and designing buildings in different styles (for example the Gothic style) enabled the participants to learn basic information about European architecture and discover how we can draw inspiration from the past (5th key competency - Learning to learn - The ability to combine old information with new and with one's own experience)

    3. Artistic activities made the participants more open towards learning and more interested in acquiring information. Discussing the literary figures of Svejk and Faust introduced good atmosphere for learning about heritage buildings in the Czech Republic and Germany. Acting out theatrical scenes about the Lithuanian Prince Giedymin made the group more interested in the history of Lithuania.

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

    a) acquire certain competences and skills

    b) facilitate knowledge assimilation (learning specific information)Please give some specific examples.

    a) Cultural, social and civic competences were developed as well as communication in the mother tongue (Lisbon key competences no 1, 6 and 8). In terms of cultural competences, for example expressive skills, beneficiaries created some theatrical etudes, literary stories, theatre scripts, and paintings. They developed the ability to understand and be involved in European culture (drawings based on traditional architectural styles, reading and listening to Ode to Joy and composing their own version of the text). As for communication in their mother tongue, they were able to do individual and group presentations during the workshops (talking about themselves and their interests). The most successful activity concerning presentational skills was the public performance of the group in front of the local Town Council during the annual Christmas Event organized by Grodzki Theatre on 11th December 2007. The workshops group sung a Polish Christmas carol for about 100 citizens of Bielsko-Biała. The participants named themselves as the Artists of the United Vehicle, which shows an involvement in the project. Also, social and civic competences were developed - the group designed some logos for the project in the context of life-long learning and the EU.

    b) Arts-based educational activities helped the participants to learn about European cultural heritage. Through creative writing (dialogues between historical figures), they learned how to do background research (using the internet) and acquired some information on European history (the lives of St Andrew and St Catherine). In their stories the participants managed to maintain historical realism as well as psychological credibility of the characters. They also obtained some knowledge on European architectural styles and were able to draw designs of buildings in a given style. The participants discussed current culture of post-modernism and were able to write their own protest against some negative social implications of it (against relativism).

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

    One of the participants - a reluctant learner, living in his own world (a mentally-ill person), who claimed that he couldn't do anything, was encouraged by the arts instructor to do some puppet animation. To his great surprise he managed to do an etude and the group understood it. He turned out be very good at fencing (with a toy sword), while practicing for a theatrical scene about the Lithuanian Prince Gediminas, which made him more active and involved. He was encouraged to present his favourite music and left his own world for some time. A shy and intimidated person (in his twenties), mentally-disabled, who felt very inferior in the group, started speaking up and volunteering to do presentations. A middle-aged participant, physically disabled (on a wheel-chair), who felt her contributions were not interesting, became more active and started arguing her point of view. A very dominant and loud member of the group (an artist, who suffers from a mental illness), noticed his hyperactivity and entered into the role of a host, who looks after the other members of the group (makes them tea and coffee). A retired person, who was very reluctant towards artistic, expressive activities and never drew before, started doing so and claimed that it made him feel better.


    - Workshops - 17.01 and 31.01.2008 >>>

    - Photos/Videos from pilot workshops >>>

    - Curriculum >>>

    - Competences of pilot workshops beneficiaries >>>

    The Bielskie Artistic Association Grodzki Theatre
    Premises - contact address: ul. Sempołowskiej 13, 43-300 Bielsko-Biala, Poland
    Office:ul.Sempołowskiej 13, 43-300 Bielsko-Biala, Poland ,
    Phone: +48 33 497 56 55, 496 52 19Fax: +48 33 497 56 55, mailto: