Living heritage in formal education: students and teachers share experiences in three short videos
1.Teaching with living heritage in a culturally diverse classroom: Hanga printing in art and math classes
Campus Comenius in Brussels, Belgium, is a young school striving for innovation in education, where traditional teaching methods are combined with self-regulated learning. Cultural diversity is a daily reality for the school. Therefore Rembert, the project’s leading teacher, proposed to first conduct an online survey with his students to get a better understanding of their cultural backgrounds. The result was surprising: the school’s 140 students have identified having their roots in 37 countries around the globe and speak 35 different languages at home.
The next step was to organize a school exhibition for which students were asked to bring objects reflecting, in their view, the living heritage of their families – objects related to practices, customs and know-how passed down from generation to generation, close to their hearts. From this exhibition, the Japanese Hanga printing presented by Maori (12) was selected to be part of the school project.
Children with a migration background often feel that there is no space for them to express themselves, to share where they come from. By integrating living heritage into our teaching, students were so happy that the school provided a space for their culture.
Rembert Jonckheere (Belgium), pilot project teacher
Arts and math teachers worked closely with a UNESCO-trained facilitator and Maori’s grandfather – a practitioner of Hanga printing, living in Japan – to find the best ways to integrate this practice in their lessons. As a result, students learnt this traditional printing technique in art classes, where they created prints integrating their own cultural references. In mathematics, they used the prints to learn about geometric transformation, reflection, translation and rotation.
2. Using new technologies to teach with living heritage: “Glöcklerlauf” in physics and computer-aided design classes
Welterbe Mittelschule in Bad Goisern, Austria. is a small school where students come from different villages in the Hallstättersee region in Salzkammergut. The school project on teaching and learning with living heritage was inspired by the Glöcklerlauf celebration, which takes place every year on the eve of the Epiphany, on 5 January.
I never thought I would be interested in living heritage or that I could integrate it in my teaching. After this experience, as teachers, we understood that living heritage can be combined with any school subject.
Florian Englbretch (Austria), pilot project teacher
Designing the traditional Glöcklerlauf caps during the CAD lesson was much more complex and challenging than drawing the simple geometric patterns we usually do, but students found it more interesting and meaningful, as it was related to a practice they all knew.
Martin (14), a young Glöckler, worked with his teacher, Florian, to develop the project. Martin and other more experienced Glöcklerlauf practitioners helped teachers and students to better understand the tradition, its meaning, and the craft that goes into its costumes. Visiting the workshop of an experienced practitioner showed everyone how the paper and lights decorating the caps are prepared, how the wood structures are built or the way in which the cow bells are used. The Glöcklerlauf practice was integrated in different subjects and school grades: Handicraft (7th grade), computer-aided design (CAD; 8th grade), German language (5th grade), physics (6th grade) and an extra-curricular talent course (5th – 8th grade).
3. Teaching about environment and economy with living heritage: O Merdeiro in geography, music and art classes
Colexio Eduardo Pondal in Cangas, Spain, is a school on the Galician coast, a region with strong agricultural and fishing traditions and a language of its own. The Carnival in Galicia is celebrated every February across the region. People dress up and get together to celebrate the end of winter. Although the main characteristics of the celebration are common, there are particularities in customs and costumes that each community takes pride in. “O Merdeiro” is one of them, as the most expressive character in Vigo, a city on the Galician seashore.
By having to first understand living heritage, everyone spoke to their grandparents, teachers, associations and then shared with the group. These activities provided us with a point of view from different perspectives and we liked it.
With living heritage, learning becomes more interesting, meaningful and motivating for students. And, as teachers, we know that when students are motivated, they achieve better results.
María Isabel Bión Caíño (Spain), pilot project teacher
Sabela together with her student Sara (15) decided to integrate the carnival figure O Merdeiro and connected traditions in different subjects. O Merdeiro was thus integrated in art classes (masks), Galician language and literature (traditional sayings and oral poetry “regueifas”), music (songs), but also geography for its connection to the environment and the local traditional economy based on fishing and farming.
To learn more about the history of the carnival, O Merdeiro and the fishing- and farming-led economy, students interviewed parents and grandparents, attended a lecture given by the Ethnographic association “A Merdeira”, visited an association of women fish net-makers and took part in a music workshop held by the local association “Peisd´hos”.