3) Project activity (up until February 2013)
T he activities – all about the common theme “Civil courage” – involved in the project here at Södermöreskolan, started in last September with a forum theater called “blue eyed and brown eyed”. A consult (an actor) came to the school to talk to the pupils in the 9 grade. He told them that he had been invited to the school by the school management as the school was concerned about their behavior and their way of communicating. The pupils (extremely nice and well behaving!) somehow accepted this explanation. The actor then started off his play, a very provocative one with the theme that brown eyed people are better and more valuable than people with blue eyes. The pupils were quite shocked and followed the instructions and orders they got for quite a long time. Finally some of them started to question and protest. This was also the goal with the theatre, that the pupils would find the courage not to accept what they were told to do, to have the civil courage to stop it. Many of the pupils were deeply touched by the experience, some were very angry, some very sad. The play was then followed by group discussions about civil courage and what it takes not just to follow or automatically do what others do. It was amazing to listen to these discussions. The pupils were really opening up and many wise things were said. The pupils also wrote logbooks about how they had experienced the play and the following discussions.
This theatre was during the autumn followed up by different kinds of dilemma exercises/discussions. Different situations/dilemmas were presented to the pupils and they argued and motivated how the thought they would have reacted in these situations.
On the 5 of October all pupils went to cinema to watch “Caddish for a friend”, a film about civil courage.
In October the pupils started working in different workshops. This work was continued during the whole autumn. At one station they had to react on different conflicts that were presented to them by actors from Byteatern. The pupils were taught ways to strengthen their civil courage and not to be stuck in the role of victims and that they always have means to influence their own situation.
At another station, under guidance of experts from Reaktor Sydost, they made short films using their mobil telephones. In the films they presented dilemmas of civil courage.
At the third station the pupils started an art work how to describe civil courage through art. First the pupils watched different films, we used a materiel called “Play role” from “Forum för levande historia”. They watched short films about the “audience roll”, discussed what would be possible to do or not to do in different situations. The pupils also analyzed pictures from the Second World War and discussed why people often remain spectators, what prevents you from intervening. After this inspiration process the pupils were divided in groups and got a task to describe civil courage in steel cubes measuring about 1 cubic meter.
At the fourth station, also using material from “Spelar roll – Play role”, the pupils wrote texts about the “spectator role”.
Later in the autumn the pupils worked parallel in a another project “Act and react – civil courage”, that was connected to the CreatLearn project. The pupils participated in workshops where they created performances in small cubes resulting in short films now being showed in the local buses in Kalmar and at the museum of art in Kalmar.
In January – after much creative thinking and working – the steel cubes were completed and it was also decided that the cubes were to be exposed in the Kalmar city park. Together with pupils from another school in Kalmar, the Lars Kagg School, our pupils designed lightening installations that then were put on place and electrified by the pupils from Lars Kagg.
Last week, February the 13 in the evening, the cubes were presented at a vernissage in the park. The press and all the pupils together with their parents enjoyed a magic experience in a snowy park. The lit cubes made a great impression!
So far we consider the project as a big success. The pupils have been very interested, motivated and engaged.
The fact that they have been in this creative progress for quite a long time has as a result that they have developed a maturity and depth in their thinking that they didn’t have at the beginning of the project. It’s interesting to see that the pupils themselves are aware of this and of the inner journey that they are making.
The main problem during the whole process so far has been the organization of the work. Although the involving teachers have met regularly with the participating art workers much of the organization work has been done by the teachers. The organization of the school itself, with all the 16 different subjects where the pupils are to be assessed in each for itself is another problem. Teachers are feeling stress when pupils are taken away from their normally scheduled lessons and can sometimes have difficulties in seeing the benefits of working in other ways.