We’re from the neighbourhood! New “Neighbourhood Projects” during the 2013-14 course

This 2013-14 academic year, at the Department of Education and Activities we have once again worked with the schools of Ciutat Vella, within the framework of our “Neighbourhood Projects”. As in the previous projects that we have carried out, the objectives have been to widen our services beyond the school visit, turning ourselves into a useful tool for the schools in the surrounding area, and above all to get closer to the children in our neighbourhood: that the museum (and the people that work there) is for them a familiar place, where they have a significant and valuable experience.

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Project made from the works of Picasso acrobats. Escola Ciutadella

We created a new project, associated with the process of change of methodology and the internal training that we have been carrying out during the last two courses: a new project that is centered on ‘reading’ or understanding the work of art, dialoguing in front of the works, encouraging the students to observe, to reach conclusions, to share them and to debate and revise ideas, by means of longer term work and more continual sessions, which we usally can’t have with the students that visit the museum for just one day.

To develop the project, we met last June with the management of two schools from the neighbourhood, Escola Cervantes and Escola Parc de la Ciutadella. We presented the initial idea to both of them, and in various working meetings itwas modified so as to respond to the needs and organisation of each school. The final proposals were two parallel projects in terms of contents, but at the same time with major differences regarding the format, the activities to be carried out, the size of the groups, the duration, etc.

Escola Cervantes

With the Escola Cervantes it has been a work that has lasted throughout the whole acadèmic year. We adapted the project so that it formed part of the workshops already being carried out in the school: 4 sessions per workshop, in reduced groups in which students were mixed from various courses, according to the educational cycle. This allowed the possibility of deeply enjoying the dialogues in front of the paintings, given that groups of 12 to 15 students enabled the creation of very enriching and participative debates. The time left for the art workshop itself was not very extensive, and we worked on some artistic proposals that adapted to this format.

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Project made ??from the works of Picasso on pigeons | Diptych. Escola Cervantes

After an initial introductory session to the visual thinking strategies for all the teachers, we held four sessions with a group from 4th to 6th of Primary (9 to 11 years old), and another group from 1st to 3rd (6 to 8 years old) . In accordance with the philosophy of the “Neighbourhood Projects”, three sessions took place in the school (with an initial dialogue based around two works by Picasso and an art workshop related to one of the works) and a final session in the museum (with a dialogue in front of four works).

The sessions were created in common with the two teachers that intervened directly in the workshops, which made the adaptations (which are always necessary in specific projects) much easier.. This common task facilitated at the same time that two teachers from the school went deeper into the visual thinking strategies and that little by little, with the continual backing of the staff from the Department of Education and Activities, it was they themselves who led the dialogues.

From here on, these teachers repeated the process with the rest of the students from the school, and visited the museum in one of the sessions, in which we received them to do the visit. Therefore, during this course ALL of the primary students of the school have visited and participated in the project.

Escola Ciutadella

In the Escola Ciutadella the project was carried out during the second term of the course with the students of 1st and 2nd of primary (6 and 7 tears-old, respectively), and had a very different format from that of the Escola Cervantes.

These students did two sessions in the museum and eight in the school. In the sessions in the museum, the students did a workshop after the visit. In those that took place in the school, the model of initial dialogue on a work, followed by a workshop, was also applied. In this instance, the workshop time was four hours, over two days, with individual work, class and group work, and in which the artistic process was a priority. We, as staff of the museum, went to the school once a week to lead the dialogue in front of the work with the children and to propose the workshop.

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Projects from Picassos on pigeons and swimmers. Escola Ciutadella

This allowed us to work with more than ten works of art by Picasso and that the students involved felt comfortable with the method, and contributed ideas, narratives, dialogues, concerns, debate, vocabulary, etc. So as to see the effect it could have on the students working in these fields by means of visual thought strategies during multiple sessions, we proposed a written exercise to the schools, in which we asked them, at the beginning and the end of the term, to answer the question “What do you think is happening in this work?”. Contrasting the same exercise, done before and after the project, provided us with a clear example of the growth process that had taken place.

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Being able to do the project in two different contexts and adapting to the different circumstances of the schools has given us a very clear idea of what works better and we are very keen to repeat the experience next year. Making the project flexible, and working with various professionals, groups, realities and settings, has been a very enriching experience at a personal and professional level.

Maria Alcover and Anna Guarro

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