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Information about anthony russell

Published on January 10, 2008

Author: Silvestre


Slide1:  Using Digital Technology in a Creative Manner to Further Meaningful Cross Community Contact in a Divided Society - A Northern Ireland Experience Anthony Russell and Martin Doherty Slide2:  In Northern Ireland we are very aware that culture has a spatial expression and that the zones of contact can be zones of conflict. We are aware that whilst we have shared the same time and space our stories about that shared experience are very different. Peaceline Graffiti We are aware that culture is capable of being transformed and very often we fear transformation. Slide3:  One way to avoid transformation is to try and maintain territorial integrity - to keep our culture behind borders. Available at Slide4:  Ethnicity may have its roots deep in history but it is a subjective dynamic thing that is capable of transformation. Perhaps it is the fear of transformation, that essential weakness in our ethnic identity that unleashes severe retribution against those who would seek change. Mixed marriages in both Rwanda and Northern Ireland have been singled out for bitter attack. Slide5:  How then when the education system is as divided as the society and contact is viewed with suspicion can you promote a greater understanding and tolerance? Within schools the 1990 common curriculum offered an opportunity for all to share a comon approach to learning By 1992 all schools in Northern Ireland had to introduce a common theme into their studies - Slide6:  Education for Mutual Understanding or EMU Education for Mutual Understanding is about self-respect, and respect for others, and the improvement of relationships between people of differing cultural traditions. (NICC, 1990) To learn to respect and value themselves and others; to appreciate the interdependence of people within society; to know about and understand what is shared as well as what is different about their cultural traditions; and to appreciate how conflict may be handled in non-violent ways. (NICC, 1990) Objective: Slide7:  In the short term, however, a survey Indicated that most schools would rely heavily on a strategy which concentrates on generating more contact between Catholic and Protestant pupils from different schools. This is reflected in the number of schools involved in Department of Education, Cross Community Contact Scheme which has grown steadily since its introduction in 1987. Slide8:  The challenge now is whether such initiatives can help young people move beyond the 'polite exchange' so that they engage with each other in meaningful discussion of controversial social, cultural, religious and political issues. Published 1996 Slide9:  More recently at the ‘Challenge of Change Conference’ Dan McCaul, NI Department of Education Inspector, said that given the investment in EMU the “benefits were very limited”. 52% of primary schools were involved in cross community work 50% of secondary schools were involved in cross community wor 50% of secondary schools were involved in community work Slide11:  We wanted to try a different approach. One that would bring children from either side of the divide together to be involved in a creative activity where the task in would be more important than ethic origins. Hopefully they would work and learn about the task, their own potential and each other. Slide12:  In a deprived society, and especially in an ethnically divided society, it is young males who are mainly involved in street conflict and who are more likely than girls to under achieve. “Our ongoing work with these secondary schools suggests that some boys underachieve academically because they identify with concepts of masculinitywhich are in conflict with the ethos of the school.” Younger and Warrington (2005). BBC Picture Slide13:  However there is a gender divide that suggests young males are comfortable with ICT and have positive perceptions of their abilities with new technologies. BECTA (2001) There was a hope among the Ultralab team - stemming from our practical experiences elsewhere - that this would be the case in Northern Ireland. Even if it is based on playing computer games (Guardian 29/09/05) Slide14:  We contacted three youth groups and initiated a series of meetings: It was quickly agreed that Ultralab’s original idea of focusing on the Twelfth of July was not appropriate but after watching the English summer school’s work on ‘Points of View’ this was adopted as the theme for the work in Belfast. Forthspring Inter Community Group (Inter-community right against the peace wall) Mornington Community Project (Catholic Lower Ormeau) Ballysillan Youth for Christ (Protestant) Slide15:  The Existing Ultralab summer schools were: The Belfast summer school would: School based • Aimed at the gifted and talented • Took several months to complete Be based on a highly experimental three day model • Involve children from both sides of the ethnic divide • Include those alienated from traditional learning Slide16:  The Equipment Six Apple Mac G3s shipped over from Ultralab Six Canon video cameras The People 5 from Ultralab 17 children from either side of the divide 11 youth workers Slide17:  The event took place on July 8th 2003 in the City Church The first learning task was introduced: · Make a movie called, ‘The Lost Romance between two Shoes”. · It should be 60 seconds long · You should work in your groups (up to 4) The making of the movie involved planning, a story board, filming, editing and a presentation of the work to the whole group. It involved the youth leaders in the hope they would acquire the technical skills to carry the work forward after the Ultralab team left. Day One Slide18:  At the end of the first day the second learning task was introduced: · Make a movie exactly 100 seconds long · Work in the same groups · Dialogue, in the movie, was not permitted · Music was encouraged The day ended with planning for ‘Points if View”. Slide19:  After meeting the groups went to different parts of the city to film. This time the youth leaders did not form a separate group but went with their children. At various stages in the afternoon afternoon they returned and began editing. Day Two Slide20:  Editing continued and in the afternoon there were performances of: Day Three · A day in the Life of a Child · Biker Boy · Kiss my Grass · Mouseview · Why me? Please select two movies Slide21:  Why me? Slide22:  Kiss my Grass Slide23:  Throughout the event a series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with the participants - 6 children (3 boys and 3 girls) and 3 youth leaders (one from each group). The interviews highlighted the backgrounds of the children whose ages ranged from 13 to 16. One member of the Ultralab Team kept a learning journal. Data Collection Slide24:  “They live up against a 50 foot high wall between Woodvale and the Sprinfield Road itself. Their houses are small and they struggle with education.” ( Forthspring Youth worker) “ They run the streets till early in the morning. School isn’t really impressed with them.” (Mornington Youth Worker) “Our kids come from a single identity area. It’s tough for them. Some stay with us, some drop in and out. We know what is happening when they aren’t with us.” (Ballysillan - Youth worker) Background Slide25:  The boys talked about waiting for the peelers to appear. Although these direct quotes (from the learning journal) are from catholic youths they applied to both sides:- “Once they come into the street we know we’ll have fun. The word goes out - we shout at them – like throw things”. They talked about the power of the paramilitaries: “You see them on the street. Big men. You know who to avoid.” Background Slide26:  “I have enjoyed seeing the kids use their creative side. They don’t get the chance to be involved in a project like this where they have to think outside their box. It has been very positive to see them use their imagination – especially with this project. It has caused them to think. They enjoy it” (Youth worker Ballysillan). On the event the three youth workers interviewed made similar comments about improved bahaviour creativity and enjoyment. “The kids usually run a round and go nuts – I have seen them work and come up with ideas – it is so exciting to seem them change when they have the camera or are involved in editing. It is cool… They got on beautifully I didn’t hear one word of protest from either side” (Youth worker- Mornington) Background Slide27:  “We have four here and they are younger. It is really brilliant to see than get a chance. They are encouraged to be creative. They are here at 10 in the morning and they don’t want to leave until 9 at night. It shows that there is something really enticing and attractive about it. This project is really grabbing their attention.” (Youth worker – Forthspring) and Slide28:  The children were less forthcoming. They agreed, “It was a good laugh” “It was … learning new things.” Slide29:  The youth workers had agreed on an initial setting the boundaries session. Both they and the children liked it. “ I liked when Noelle (Youth leader from another group) asked us about making the rules. It was better.” (Female – Ballysilan) Noelle agreed, “The talk at the start setting ground rules and boundaries was really important. If you don’t set ground rules and boundaries they’ll push and push to find out where their boundaries are.” Slide30:  There was a nervousness about losing control. “It was difficult going out in groups. It is hard to let the kids take control of it. I had ideas but I had to pull myself back. It is going to be really interesting to see what they come up with. This was the hardest thing I had to do. I think I succeeded.” (Youth Worker – Ballysillan) Slide31:  The KIDS took control! Slide32:  But the process had its own internal ‘discipline’. “You guys at Ultralab were very keen that they took responsibility for the creativity and development of their own particular project – by allowing the young people to set the parameter and decide what time they finish in the evening is good.” (Youth worker - Forthspring) Slide33:  Both the children and the youth leaders felt that when it got down to editing a team of four was too big. “It worked better when there were just two of us. When there are four everybody wants to do things and they can’t.” (Male - Ballysillan) One youth leader from Mornington thought that other social and team activities could be included. One criticism emerged from the interviews. Slide34:  “It has been really good working with new people. I would like to work more with other groups. My kids worked with two boys from the catholic community.” (Youth worker Ballysillan) This prompted her to add that it had, “ probably more to do with raging hormones.” One youth worker from Forthspring summed it up as follows:- “It has been enriching … there was mixing but not as much as you would like on tasks. It was good. It shows what happens when we allow kids the space – when we don’t expect perfection” Mixing Mixing Slide35:  A young male used the camera and initial filming as an opportunity to try and engage young females in obscene dialogue.and filming. At a meeting of the adults it was suggested that he be expelled from the group. He hated school and had been suspended seven times that year. However some felt that we invited them as they are and he deserved a chance to change. This view prevailed. Although never quiet he participated fully in a group, lead an impromptu, vernacular debate on different practices and traditions and suggested meeting new friends afterwards. He took great pride in showing his group’s movie. He took humourous pride in receiving his certificate. Anecdote Slide36:  • All participants were presented with certificates • 5 original movies were created. • It was the first time the youth leaders had worked together. • Ultralab pioneered a three day model where the children remained motivated. • To some extent the summer school justified the idea that cross community contact is more meaningful if the focus is not contact but a task based on the creative use of technology. • The boys were as fully committed to the project as the girls. Outcomes Slide37:  • Community groups with no previous record of meaningful contact came together to use creatively use digital technology. • Children who were alienated by the formalities of the classroom and who found text based learning difficult were strongly motivated. • Their behaviour, as noted by their youth leaders, improved. In teams they produced imaginative work they were proud of. • Although at team level cross community mixing was limited the atmosphere within the City Church was relaxed and friendly. • Both the children and the youth leaders enjoyed the experience. Outcomes Slide38:  • The Mornington and Ballysillan groups continued to work together and in 2005 used the films as the centre piece of X-Plore Film Festival they ran jointly to raise funds for a trip to South Africa. • In July 2005 Mornington and Ballysillan went to South Africa together. • The following year the model was modified for a summer school in Derry • The experience and model were used to good effect by Ultralab in Singapore and the BBC Blast bus that is now touring the country Follow up Slide39:  Belfast Summer school was a one off due to a lack of funding but we ran the event in Derry in 2005. There were some differences:- In Derry we experimented with the task and introduced Garage Band to get some original music. Slide40:  We had:- two mixed religion groups from Donegal two groups from the Bogside One group from the Fountain On the day of the event we lost the Fountain group due to on-going community tensions in the area. We had the Nerve Centre as partners and the completed movies were show as part of the Foyle Festival as well being part of the world-wide dvd. Slide41:  The Two Sides of Derry Slide42:  These were small scale events carried out at a times of seasonal tension. Protestants were under represented because at this time the streets are exciting places. Final Thoughts But it does suggest • Young people respond to digitally creative opportunities • General behaviour improves • Boys are as engaged as girls • Children from either side will work constructively together and learn …? Slide43:  Would EMU money be best spent: In schools? In COMMUNITY GROUPS with young adults under age 30? In Youth groups on Troublesome interfaces? Reducing the proposed water charges? Now..Millionaire

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