I have the great pleasure of announcing that Wikiakademia is a part of Non-Formal Education is My Power! project lead by Polski Związek Głuchych Oddział Opolski (Opole Branch of Polish Association of Deaf) with Erasmus+ funds. This venture is very special since the first time it brings together people working with youth, not only from different organizations but also from schools. This is an invitation for formal educational institutions to incorporate non-formal method.
Project consists 3 parts: preparatory, training course and evaluation. The first and the third one is taken on the e-learning platform. At the beginning we had chance to learn about ourselves and course subject using internet tools. We tried defining what is non-formal education, basing on our own experiences and thoughts. We discussed how to use this method. Since it is international project we also had time to rethink our approach to national stereotypes after solving the quiz based on materials sent by participants of each nation. In the end we tried to judge how young people we work with are motivated to develop themselves, in what extend they try to make their dreams come true.
Second part of this project was the training, which happened from 1 to 5 of December in Teresin, near Warsaw. We welcomed participants from 7 countries: Spain, Romania, Greece, Portugal, Finland, Bulgaria and Poland. Maria Carbunaru from Romania, Katarzyna Głozak from Poland and Jo Caeys from Portugal were our trainers.
Jo, experienced Non-Formal Education trainer, said that workshops in national groups can be lead much faster. Communication is natural since everyone speaks same, national language. It is much easier to gain knowledge and develop new skills. But it does not have international impact, so important nowadays. So this time we had course lead in English and some people were deaf. It forced us to see communication process from different perspective and change our behaviours. Not only did we had to listen carefully to each other and check if we understand properly, we also had to consider hard-of-hearing people needs. People could speak by turns and had to wait for translator to finish. Very sensitizing experience.
Another moving experience was when everybody was given name in the sign language, created basing on our appearance, interests and behaviour. The evening spent in smaller groups was very important part of building trust and partnership for longer period than training, as we hope to continue cooperation in future. We were also invited by Polish families for dinner, to meet local communities and to get know more about Poland. Then they visited us in Teresin, so we could welcome them with our national treats. We had Portuguese lupine and chestnut liquor, Romanian zakuska, Greek olives, Spanish sangria and paella, Finnish reindeer meat, Bulgarian yoghurt and cucumber beverage, Polish lard, herring, mead, and many other delicious food. We also had some national traditional music and dancing.
Training was conducted according to rule “less is more”. Trainers were constantly adjusting their schedules to group’s needs and work speed. Every task, according to non-formal education rules, was divided into exercise, debriefing and reflections. We had chance to define subject of the training, learn some tools, apply them to our conditions and even prepare preliminary work schedule which would include non-formal methods. We achieved every goal while having great, great fun.
Now there is last step ahead of us, work on the final schedule, use it in our schools and organisations and share results with others, again using e-learning platform.
Finally, few words what is non-formal education. In contrast to informal education, which is aimless, happens often by accident in many situations every day – at home, in the street, at work – non-formal education has a goal and is planned and to some level structured. It is aimed towards specific groups and is organized in different environments and situations. It can be lead by professional trainers and volunteers. What is important in comparison with formal education is that – it is not included to school curriculum, is voluntary, and does not end with exam or test, is not formally graded. Young people, with whom we work using this method, are part of planned experience and thanks to debriefing and reflection they can not only acquire knowledge but also train some skills and change attitude.
Important tip: If you organise something using non-formal methods, leave initiative to the youth, let them look for answers, plan and act. Take at least one step back. Your role is simply to support, not to do the job for them. If you work very hard, stop and look what is going wrong.
The specific examples, which will be applicable in work with young people coming soon! You are welcome to follow our posts.