Building bridges

A Russian team from the Summer Academy in Poland has been busy building bridges between academia and schools – by strengthening the position of human rights education and education for democratic citizenship in teacher training.

The team from Novosibirsk, was composed of Natalya Tyutyunnikova (school head), Varvara Antipenko (teacher) and Lidia Kotovich (associate professor, state pedagogical university).

Before the 1990s, university training and teachers’ training courses did not address issues of education in democratic citizenship or human rights education. The team aimed to put this right, by doing all they could to ensure access to training in democracy and human rights education for future teachers.

How did they do it? The project began with School #186 itself. First, the Council of Europe manuals were introduced to history and social studies teachers at a series of city and district seminars and at the school’s Teachers Council meeting.

Compass materials were used at parent-teachers’ planning meetings. The effect on the parents’ community was immediate. The mother of a 6th-grade student said, “We moved here from Primorsky Krai and it is the first time in our six years experience that parents’ meetings are so interesting and comfortable.”

Next, third- and fifth-year university students were encouraged to incorporate Compass materials into their lesson plans for teaching practice. The Compasito manual was also presented at the Science Days in the Institute of Childhood for Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University graduate school students.

Then the university students had a chance to observe Compass and Compasito being used in the classroom at School #186, before going on to use them themselves on their teaching practice.

The project in Novosibirsk shows just what can be achieved by a small dedicated team when they combine the resources of universities and schools. All together, some 150 teachers, 25 parents, 340 school students and 55 university students had direct involvement in the project.

For one fifth-year student at the university the experience was life-changing: “Compass is a true find for my graduation thesis,” she said.

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