Learning to do things differently

One of the best ways of learning is seeing how other people do things. For the 33 education professionals from the Russian Federation who attended the recent seminar in the Practicing Citizenship programme, a visit to a Montenegrin school was a welcome source of inspiration.

EWC organized the seminar in partnership with the Association of the Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe in Montenegro April 2-7, 2017.

Participants in the programme have clearly expressed the need for practical knowledge. A planned visit to the “Veljko Drobnjaković“primary school in Risan – was therefore highly anticipated.

Although relatively small with 185 pupils and 26 employees, 20 of whom are teachers, the school actively participates in various innovative educational initiatives, especially in the field of communication and collaboration with the local community, NGOs, public institutions and companies. The school is also an alumnus from the South-East Europe Regional Summer Academy.

Vidosava Kascelan, senior advisor at the Bureau for Education Services of Montenegro, gave a presentation on how Montenegro has implemented citizenship and human rights education. Afterwards, the director of the school, Dragutin Šćekić, told the group more about the practicalities, the challenges and the benefits of embedding civic and human rights education in all spheres of the school’s activities through the whole school approach. He also gave some examples of cooperation with the local community.

One example, the school had invited residents of a local home for the elderly to act as councillors of professional orientation for the pupils, sharing their experience and advise with them. It was also interesting to hear that the pupils were involved in planning and preparing for the visit. They were asked, rather than told, how and if they would like to contribute. As a result, two students volunteered to welcome the participants with a speech and a piano performance.

It was also underlined that to implement real positive change it is important that everyone involved understand and support the need for change, and that the taken action allow real learning by doing rather than just being conducted for the sake of activity implementation.

The participants of the seminar felt that the community of the “Veljko Drobnjaković” succeeded in doing just that, for example mentioning that “an active student council exits in the school, and it seems it is not only there for decorative purposes”.

During the closing session of the seminar one of the participants noted “I realised that it is not about doing more, but rather doing things differently” – there can be no doubt that the last day spent at the school and the immersion into the Montenegrin experience in civic education served as an inspiration and a practical example of the fact that “differently” does not mean “more difficult” but can be implemented in simple everyday actions both in education institutions and the local communities.

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