22 June 2021
We combine conflict management with art in schools

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During the third term of the school year 2020/2021 we are working with students of the 4th and 5th of primary to carry out the educational proposals of the ApS.

We understand by service learning (ApS) any educational proposal that, apart from looking for the learning of contents, competences, abilities or values, pretends at the same time to be useful in the social field by means of the realization of actions that cover needs. realities of the community, with the purpose of improving it.

The ApS, therefore, invite us to work in schools providing learning and, on the other hand, return services that have been promoted by the students themselves. It is a very enriching exchange for both organizations and students, as they become active agents of change.

This year, the service is developed in parallel in two different schools in Barcelona: the Porxos School and the Bosc de Montjuïc School, and has been developed during six work sessions, each session of approximately one and a half hours. Throughout these classroom work sessions, students have developed small projects from a playful, creative and participatory approach.  

In our first meeting in the classroom we developed a proposal for a script of the service with guidelines to follow, which would help us to organize the actions, to make a small reflection of the process and a proposal for a final self-evaluation.  

The first session begins with open-ended questions to bring us closer to abstract concepts such as well-being, justice, solidarity and non-violence. We invite students to a space for dialogue where they can reflect on their meanings and on the place that these concepts occupy in their own lives. We all think about what we can do so that there is more justice, more well-being, and more solidarity in the world that is closest to us.

The next step is to set up working groups and take action. Each group is formed at random, and consists of 3 or 4 students. In small groups, this is where the issues they want to address and the areas of intervention of each service have just been decided and agreed upon. Students explore the many forms that the culture of peace takes through artistic languages ​​such as theater, poetry, drawing, origami, audiovisual creation, picture books, calligraphy. Active listening, cooperation, empathy and dialogue play a very important role in this creative process.

At all times, the protagonists are the students. While working in small groups, adults (mediators and teachers) focus on supporting them to discover what they would most like to do or learn. Each adult accompanies two groups. From neutrality and observation, our role is that of facilitators. Through questions, we help them land their ideas, open dialogue, and ensure the participation of everyone in the development of the project, we talk about listening to the diversity of opinions. In order for students to achieve maximum autonomy, we seek to lead them towards co-responsibility in each phase of work.

How do we think of a project from scratch?
How can we shape our ideas?
Can we easily reach a consensus?
How do we plan the work phases and how do we distribute the tasks?
What resources do we need to take action?
How do we manage time?
Do we know how to make a group?
How do we deal with small obstacles
Why do we get angry?
Do we know how to listen to each other?
Is it easy to work together?
How do we address conflicts that may arise within work teams?
And if there’s one person in my group I don’t feel like working with, what do I do?  
And we reach the final phase of the projects. The students have already decided on their projects. Geriatrics, the homeless community, the world of sports with their conflicts, endangered animals or the school itself are some of the areas of concern and therefore intervention, and where children and girls want to lead their projects to seek improvement. On the one hand, many of the proposed projects encourage solidarity, and have to do with creating handmade objects (bracelets, origami figures, necklaces, T-shirts, postcards) to sell. The goal of these sales is to make money and get it to organizations that work in these areas. On the other hand, we see that ideas also emerge such as the creation of a listening bench for the school yard, the creation of a play for a home for the elderly, and some poems that they will be sent to a nursing home or a chain of favors that will be extended to the whole school, large and varied ideas that have been proposed by the two class groups.

We would like to thank all the children who have been waiting for us in the classroom every Tuesday to share with us their view of the world.

We want to thank the teachers for the support they have given us. Without his complicity our work would not have been possible. After this new experience in the classrooms, we are a little more aware of the complexity of the work of teachers. We send them a thank you from our heart.