The Bridge Group
Our team in school number 10 formed quite quickly, already in the first week when we had to find materials. We found ourselves inspired by the idea of an Art Bridge. For us, a bridge could be the symbol that through art it is possible to connect people from all over the world. Just as we in the group experienced that we got to know each other through our joint interest and passion for art, we wanted to bring this feeling of friendship to our pupils in school number 10.
Even though we didn’t have as many pedagogical discussions as I expected in the beginning of this exchange, I still learned a lot about the way of teaching in Sukhum throughout our lessons. I was also a bit surprised that I didn’t have any other Swiss student from Art Education in my team. I would have liked that in order to have some exchange with more experienced students of my university. Anyway, I felt really comfortable in my team, and we felt that over time we became really good in working with each other. Everyone of us could speak openly about their wishes, criticism etc.
What is Switzerland?
Our idea of the Art Bridge went through a big change, when we heard about the age of the pupils and the duration of the lessons. We only had 45 min per class (pupils were of an average age of 7 to 11). Unfortunately our ideas of the bridge couldn’t be realised in such short lectures, so we had to break them down to a certain minimum.
I am not sure if we, due to the short time in classes, were showing still a quite stereotypical view of these two places. But in order to keep up with the interest of the pupils in Switzerland it was important for us to keep the topic of the bridge and to do our best to not fall into stereotypical attributions. We tried to question the thoughts that the pupils have about the Swiss Alps and the Southern Caucasus, and also to show the similarities. We showed them similar pictures from both places as well as common music or legends. It was nice to see how engaged the pupils worked and how irritated they were, when the couldn’t distinguish the places anymore. The different classes had to draw, paint or create parts of the bridge, which we put together on the last day in order to create the Art Bridge of school number 10. I am happy with the results and I found it interesting when the pupils started to create something new, like a new place or a new legend.
Teaching and Improvising
If I had to describe my teaching experience in Sukhum with one word it would be: Improvising. First thing that comes to my mind is the language barrier. Even if I had a translator with me, during the lessons he was often helping our Swiss teachers to communicate with the original teachers of our classes. So I found myself often interacting with both the pupils and my classmates in a gestic or mimic way. Even I think we have to prepare better for the language barrier in Switzerland I am still kind of thankful for this experience. It shoed me that language is not just about speaking but includes a lot more and which makes it possible to communicate even without the language. Second is that we couldn’t see the school before our first class teaching. That made it difficult for us to know what we can expect from the school, the pupils and the lessons. We also didn’t know about the age and the time of classes a few days before. So we had to break down our project to a certain minimum so that it was possible to work with it in this circumstances. Even if it made me a bit sad that we had to deal pretty superficial with our topic and maybe created some stereotypical view on Switzerland it was a decision we had to make in order to keep our interest in the topic of the art bridge. Also other points like loosing our classroom spontaneously or classes that didn’t bring their crayons for some reasons required fast decisions and improvising from our team. I am really happy how it worked out and that despite all the problems we faced we grew together as a group where everyone had their influence and importance.
Pupils from Sukhum/i
What surprised me a lot where the pupils themselves in school 10. They were very interested, open and hard working in our classes. Even though we needed some time to learn how to best work with them in order to keep them focused, I felt that they were really enjoying their lessons with us. Also their feedback ”DA” (their answer on if they liked the lesson) or the photos and autographs they wanted at the end to the lessons strengthen this feeling. Even if it became more clear to me, that in the future I want to work with older students, I am really thankful for this experiences. Never before had I considered to teach pupils of the age from 7-11 years, but I can now understand what good sides it has. What I liked the most about the pupils, were the moments when they couldn’t tell the difference between Sukhum/i and Zurich anymore or created steps, figures and drawing that were mixing our inputs in the lessons and created something new.
Now back home I am still thinking a lot about my time in the Caucasus. Not only the teaching, but also the place and the people we met, make me reflect a lot about myself, my school and my home country. I hope that I somehow also left some trace in this places or in people I have met in this time. Hopefully all of them can come to Zürich and have a great time here. I am looking forward to the ideas they bring for the school in Bülach, and to the time we will spend and work together. See you in September!