• 1st report
  • 2nd report
  • 3rd report
  • Lithuania
  • 1st report
  • 2nd report
  • 3rd report
  • Germany
  • 1st report
  • 2nd report
  • 3rd report
  • The Czech Republic
  • 1st report
  • 2nd report
  • 3rd report

  • Evaluation report
  • Final report


    REPORTS - POLAND - 2nd report

    Cultural Vehicles in Education

    Grodzki Theatre Association

    15th April 2008

    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 friends.

    We 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) implementing pilot workshops: February, March up to 15th April - two separate modules: the educational one (4 hours a week) and the artistic one (4 hours a week), closely related

    2) holding progress meetings of CVE team: instructors, monitoring experts, project coordinator

    3) updating the project's website - (partner reports, photos, descriptions)

    4) A monitoring visit to Ostrava (3rd March) - a meeting of the Polish and Czech team, including monitoring experts/researchers

    5) Working on the programme of the CVE conference together with Babilonas, Lithuania

    6) Monitoring the implementation of pilot workshops in partner countries (reports, phone enquiries, e-mails, visit to Ostrava).

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

    The main problem was the diversity of the group - different mental abilities of participants. The beneficiaries with mental disabilities and mental illnesses sometimes withdrew from group activities, especially if they involved gathering information (looking for specific information in a text or comprehension exercises). Instructors tried to introduce pair work or work in small groups, which improved the situation. Special tasks were devised to interest and motivate those learners, for example doing puzzles - putting together pictures of 10 famous lovers in European history, which was entertaining and relatively easy for people with mental constraints, and made them more focused. Slides were used very often during educational classes to illustrate some pieces of information and help with knowledge assimilation. Physical exercises were introduced during theatre workshops - games, fencing, marching, etc. They made all participants more active and improved their self-esteem. This method was especially effective for the participants with mental disabilities and mental illnesses, who were as good at physical tasks as the others and therefore felt encouraged to try other tasks. Another way of motivating vulnerable learners was to present their past and present achievements to the group. An animated film "Romeo and Juliet" made a few years ago during our Socrates project "Animated Debate" by one of the participants with mental disabilities was shown during an educational workshop, and it boosted his self-esteem. A mentally ill person read his own poems to great applause of the group. Another person with mental disability, who is quite quiet, performed a lead role in a play presented to the group by the Occupational Therapy Workshop (she attends a theatre class there). This made an impact on her position within the group who became more interested in her theatre skills and experience.There is also a visually impaired participant in the group, but she is always accompanied by her friend, another participant, who reads texts to her and explains the pictures. She is an active and outspoken member of the group, who makes interesting comments and gives feedback to the instructor.

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

    1. A common theme was developed to co-ordinate the educational units with the artistic units (knowledge on our partner country Lithuania). The instructors decided to prepare a play on the history of the foundation of Vilnius in the Middle Ages and the educational units provided information used in the artistic ones - material for the performance. Thanks to the work on the play, the participants acquired some specific information on Lithuania, which was revised every week through theatre rehearsals.

    2. Other subjects studied during the educational units were always revised during the artistic units (the instructor asked the group to sum up what they had learned).

    3. Elements of art were often introduced into the educational workshops to make the information discussed interesting for the participants, especially those with mental constraints - for example slides were used to present drawings of Bruno Schultz - the Polish writer and artist, when the group was learning about his literary work. Also, pictures of European paintings were often shown, for example with the connection to famous European figures (Romeo and Juliet, Dante and Beatrice, Tristan and Isolde, Chopin and George Sand, Sigfrid and Brunhilda and others).

    4. Preparing the play on Lithuania made the participants more sensitive to the historical truth and political sensitivity in the context of Polish-Lithuanian relations, which had a great educational role.

    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.

    The development of learning, social and cultural competences was maintained - Lisbon Key Competences no 5, 6 and 8, as planned in the project. In terms of learning to learn, all adult learners developed their self-belief and self-value, curiosity towards the world, the ability to summarize information and they focused on goals and aims. Even during reading and understanding the prose of Bruno Schulz, Polish early 20th century writer and artist, which turned out to be a difficult task for most of them, they remained open-minded and curious about his work and were able to point out some positive aspects of it: "surprising, rich language, poetic, interesting, full of colours, light, shadows, and sounds". All group members have spoken publicly during discussions at the educational workshops and have taken part in theatre exercises, and most are not afraid of asking for support, if they need it. As for social competences, an understanding of codes of conduct and customs in the Middle Ages enabled them to reflect on the norms in their own society. Through preparing a theatre production on Lithuania, which will be presented on the main square of Bielsko-Biala in May during the International Festival of Puppetry Art, they started to see themselves more as parts of their community and society as well as Europeans. They developed particular skills such as: the ability to negotiate, participating in different groups and taking on different roles, the ability to relate current events to historical ones and the ability to show some common heritage in the EU. Cultural competences were acquired during numerous theatre activities in which every single member of the group has participated. Even reluctant participants (persons with mental disabilities, elderly people) were persuaded to work on their self-expression and performed various scenes. The ability to make use of culture to learn some information and present it publicly was acquired during many rehearsals of the play on Lithuania. The readiness of the group to do a performance during the International Puppetry Festival shows a high level of cultural competences. The beneficiaries were involved in all stages of preparing and planning out their performance - writing the script, acting out individual scenes, rehearsals, discussions on the historical realism versus symbolism and on humorous convention versus a serious one, organizing the space in the performance, designing and preparing puppets, stage decorations, props and costumes.

    Also, additional Lisbon competences no 1, 3 and 4 were developed: communication in the mother tongue (participating in discussion, public presentations, making notes, creating literary works: prose and drama, better understanding of a variety of texts), basic competences in science and technology (seeing science as a foundation of technology, being able to recognize some advantages and threats of scientific progress, for example TV and internet) and digital competences (the ability to edit materials). The most interesting way of developing the understanding of science as a foundation of technology (basic competences in science and technology) was learning about the Great Discoveries and sailing. Through watching illustrations and discussing different types of European ships from different centuries the group could see how much knowledge was needed to build them and to improve their technology. By charting their own sailing courses in the sea they also grasped how much mathematical and geometrical knowledge is necessary for navigation.

    b) The participants learned some historical, geographical and social facts on Lithuania and used the acquired knowledge to write the script for their production. Certain information which was incorporated into the final text of the script rehearsed every week will be well remembered by everyone: the change of the Lithuanian capital from Trakai to Vilnius, the legend on the archpriest Lisdejko, including the role of an archpriest in the Middle Ages, the life of prince Gedyminas, the Lithuanian name "Vilnius" (as opposed to the Polish name "Wilno" used by Poles), the historical costumes worn in the Middle Ages. The group also acquired information, used in the theatre production, about animals, which lived in the Middle Ages, especially aurochs (wild, forest animals from the ox family, protected in the Middle Ages in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which died out in 17th century). This knowledge was essential for the play they were working on and made it possible to make the performance more historically true.

    Another way of helping with knowledge assimilation was to ask the participants to tell different literary stories in their own words, making up new versions, for example each member of the group devised one sentence of a story of Romeo and Juliet (based on Shakespeare but with creative changes, some relating the events to nowadays). Historical maps were used to present the Great Discoveries in the 16th century, which allowed the group to understand how much there was to discover. During the same unit they learned to chart their own sailing course in the sea, which was a very challenging task with symbolic significance - sailing and great discoveries relate to the self-discoveries and efforts undertaken by the workshop participants. Although at the beginning of the task the group panicked, through pair work supervised by the instructor, every single person drew their own sailing course and the atmosphere at the end of the task was euphoric.In preparation for the performance, fencing was practiced and learned by all members of the group, which improved the physical and psychological well-being of mentally-ill participants suffering from periods of depression.

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

    The workshops increased the motivation to learn of all participants, which is the greatest success - at the moment 100% of participants declare that they will complete the course (there are still 2,5 months of workshops ahead of them). The average attendance from 1st February to 1st April was 76%. A few new people from socially vulnerable groups came to the workshops as observers, but they did not decide to join the course.

    A physically disabled lady on a wheelchair and a visually-impaired lady became more physically active during the theatre workshops. They both fenced skillfully with the instructor to a great applause of the group, which boosted up their confidence and self-belief. A mentally-disabled young person, who sometimes gets a bit behind with the activities, mastered the art of fencing very well through practicing it at home, and performed his skills in front of the group getting lots of positive feedback.

    The educational classes used the elements of art to develop positive attitudes towards learning: being open to the world, curiosity, courage to express oneself, creativity, self-confidence and communication skills. This manifested itself through stories, scripts, poems, drawings and music created by the participants. The exercise of thinking up other episodes to the legend about the foundation of Vilnius (the story of archpriest Lisdejko and Prince Gedyminas) got three senior citizens so involved that after the class they walked home together developing and creating the story all the way. Two of them are elderly people, who never attended further education classes before, and one attended a psychiatric centre and feels a bit "different" from other people, so their involvement marks significant progress in their willingness to learn, to communicate with others and be creative (social and cultural competences and learning to learn).

    Workshops - 07.02 and 11.02.2008 >>>

    Photos/Videos from pilot workshops >>>

    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: