"Drama & Sailing" in Rome

The sunny weather of October second week has been the perfect climate for the third workshop of the Evalt project. The location, Lake of Bracciano, has been kissed by a bright and warm sun that facilitated all the outdoor activities of the transnational team of the project.

In Rome from 3 to 7 of October 2012, after 2 days of cultural exchange the group moved to Trevignano for the methodological practice of the workshop delivered by Tecnopras. The topic was Drama & Sailing.

The workshop combined the two activities in a continuuous base on the same educational metaphors, firstly developed by the Drama session (in the morning) and implemented afterwards by the Sailing session (in the afternoon). With the project management of Cristina Miliacca (psychologist, trainer, Tecnopras project coordinator), the training activities were delivered by Sabrina Lilli (educator, theatre director, actress), as regards Drama, and Stefano Bertoldi (trainer, sociologist, skipper), for what concerns Sailing.

Clicking HERE it is possible to download the educational materials of the workshop from Evalt website.

The initial briefing of the workshop

Dramatization of sailing metaphors

Dramatization of sailing metaphors

Sailing session


Preparing for the meeting in Rome, 3-7 October 2012

Giovanni Paolo Pannini "Capriccio panoramico di Roma con il Colosseo,l'Arco di Costantino e il Tempio di Castore e Polluce"

Canaletto "Veduta di Piazza Navona, Roma"

William Turner "Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino"

  Ettore Roesler Franz "Ponte rotto"


Meeting in Siauliai, June 2012

The third meeting of Evalt project has been held in Siauliai from 6 to 10 of June 2012. The agenda foresaw moments of discussion - in order to monitor what has been accomplished until now and to agree the next actions to take - and two workshop on expressive arts (decoupage and painting) and crafts (making soaps, bread, etc.) as tools for education of disadvantaged adults.

 The group at the opening moment of the meeting

The workshop on expressive arts: in blue jersey, the trainer

Liuda Radzeviciene (in red) and Lina Miliuniene (in black) of the Lithuanian team, coordinator of the meeting

Moments of the workshop

 Moments of the workshop


Developing the Innovative Mind

From 20 to 23 September 2012, in Coronado, CA (San Diego), Marriott Coronado Island, the 2012 EdTA Annual Conference will take place. The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) is a national nonprofit organization (with approximately 90,000 student and professional members) whose mission is shaping lives through theatre education.

The 4Cs of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication are the cornerstone 21st century skills that every college- and career-ready student needs to possess. A professional theatre educator has the "job" to cultivate and model these lifelong traits. To do so, he/she must be innovative, in the classroom and on the stage. In the 2012 EdTA Conference it will be explored the broad challenges that today’s theatre teacher educator must meet in order to succeed in our ever-changing world.
Conference 2012 will feature:
• Opening keynote speaker, Ben Cameron, known for his dynamic and compelling presentations on the value of the arts.
• Presentation of findings from the first national landscape study in more than twenty years of theatre teachers and school administrators on the state of theatre education, conducted by EdTA and Utah State University.
• Overview of the Next Generation Arts Standards Project.
• Practical workshops and educational opportunities to augment educator's skills for the classroom.
• Opportunities to network and exchange ideas with other educators. 
• Inspiration from the newest class of EdTA Hall of Fame inductees.
To see what else the conference has to offer or to find out more about the host city, explore the link: http://schooltheatre.org/events/edta-conference/


Which key to educational success?

New research carried out by Newcastle University challenges the idea that raising aspirations is the key to improving the education of children from low-income families. Liz Todd, Professor of Educational Inclusion at Newcastle University, led a multi-disciplinary team that reviewed projects designed to raise aspirations and change attitudes as part of a Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded study. 

The project looked at whether the issue of low educational attainment by children from poorer backgrounds can be solved by schemes that aim to change aspirations and attitudes. 

The review found that while some interventions showed some change in attitudes and had an impact on educational attainment, there was no evidence that one led to the other.Importantly, the review found that low-income families already have aspirations for their children to go on to higher education but often other barriers can get in the way of them realising these ambitions. Liz Todd also found that teachers, policy makers and other education professionals underestimate the ambitions of young people and the aspirations that families have for their children.

Professor Todd said: “For more than 10 years national and local policy has focused attention on raising aspirations. But there is no evidence that if you want to impact on the attainment of lower-income pupils that changing attitudes and aspirations is the way to go. There is an urgent need to change direction.” She added: “It’s not that aspirations aren’t important. It’s not about turning them on but keeping them on track. It’s highly unlikely that any child starts school wanting to be unemployed.”

The research identified a number of programmes where there are strong indicators of success. It found that the most effective way of helping children from low-income households to achieve their ambitions is engaging parents in their children’s learning and in their own learning and in providing a range of support for children such as mentoring. Parents need to understand how the education system works and what choices are available for their children and, critically, how they can work with schools to help their children reach their full potential. It also stated that we need to develop approaches that don’t blame families and children for the effects of poverty on their education.

Professor Todd said: “If our education system is to give children and young people the best chance of achieving their goals, it is essential that they and their parents are offered different kinds of support when needed and not simply encouraged to have higher aspirations.We know that most young people value their education and want it to continue in order to get a good job when they leave school. The barrier for many is realising their ambitions."

Source: Phys.org


Metaskills: bringing learnt skills to life

What about Skills?

Skills are specific things we know how to do, like how to make origami, how to weave, how to paint, and so on. They are generally things you learn by doing, rather than by reading about in abstract. Sure, you can gain knowledge about them by reading general theory, but you have to actually get your hands dirty to get any level of mastery at all. The more skills you have, the more intelligent you become: the subconscious mind is always searching for patterns and analogies, and the more skills you have, the more sources there are for the subconscious mind to find these things. Thus, proficiency in one skill lends itself to solving unexpected problems, sometimes even without our being explicitly aware of it.

Metaskills are abstract skills which have to do with other skills. For example, an autodidact is a person who has the metaskill of being able to self-teach him or herself new skills without an outside teacher. A teacher is a person who has the metatalent to teach skills to others; here I speak of someone who is a teacher of a wide variety of things, not necessarily a teacher who focuses on one single topic. Teaching one single topic, like calculus, is a skill, but the ability to learn an arbitrary skill and then teach it to others, that is a meta-skill. Generalization is a metaskill where you look at a wide variety of skills and figure out the common underlying patterns. Specialization is one where you can take a skill and focus it more precisely, to get a new skill which is a special case of the broader original skill.

Skills Training and Metaskills Training

Skills training involves performing a skill over and over. As you perform a skill, your subconscious mind constantly tries to figure out how it can help you. At first, it doesn’t know how to help you at all, and you have to consciously think about every littlest detail. In time, the subconscious takes over more and more of the workload, allowing you to perform the skill with less and less conscious attention. This is sometimes referred to as muscle memory; you can do the skill without even thinking about it. To get to this point, you have to perform the skill quite a bit. Each time, it comes a little easier. Once your subconscious has completely taken over the performance of the skill, it shifts toward finding ways to optimize and improve the skill, and that’s how you evolve from a mere expert into a master.

Training a metaskill is the same. Just because a skill is meta, doesn’t make it any different from any other skill. The difference is that we don’t usually consciously train our meta-skills because most people don’t even recognize them as skills. Besides that, training a meta-talent is more difficult than training a skill, because you can’t as easily fall into a pattern of repetition. Whereas you can do basketball training by throwing a basketball through a hoop a whole lot of times, you can’t, for example, teach yourself calculus a whole lot of times. In order to train the meta ability of being an autodidact, you must consciously seek out new things to teach yourself. If mastering chess requires playing ten thousand games, then mastering autodidacticism requires teaching yourself ten thousand different skills.

The benefit of mastering a skill is that you get to use that one skill. It makes a contribution to your overall intelligence by giving you that much more referential material from which to draw patterns and analogies. By learning Japanese, I’ve gained the ability to talk to Japanese people in their native tongue. The benefit of mastering a metaskill is that you can get new regular skills more easily, or make better use of the regular skills you already have. When you train a skill, you are making a long term investment; when you train a meta-skill, you are making a “long long term” investment. You’re making an investment into your ability to make or profit from other long term investments.

The Reflexive Nature of Metaskills

The great thing about a meta-skill is that it’s reflexive. It’s something you apply to skills; but it is a skill, therefore, you can apply it to itself. For example, consider a master teacher who can skilfully teach every skill she possesses: in particular, she can teach how to teach. A master autodidact can, in principle, teach himself any skill: in particular, he can teach himself any metaskill. (In a very real sense, master autodidacts are like gods. They can do basically anything. I consider myself something of an intermediate level autodidact.)

Here’s another example of a metaskill. Skills analysis is the ability to take any skills you know, and break them down, analyzing them and figuring out exactly how they work. For different skills, it requires a different mastery of skills analysis to break them down. For example, just about anyone can analyze the “skill” of flipping coins. But it would take a very good skills analyst to analyze the skill of playing the harp. Skills analysis is itself just another skill, so in theory, a good enough skills analyst could break it down and analyze it.

The novel “Cheaper By The Dozen” tells the tale of the family of Frank Gilbreth, a self-described “Efficiency Expert”. He devoted his life to finding ways to make various tasks more efficient. He even invented a general system of “therbligs”, small undecomposable units of work, for analyzing general tasks. In fact, he was pioneering the “time and motion study” metaskill, which takes skills and finds ways to make them more efficient. What if someone was so good at time and motion study that they could apply it to itself, and find ways to make time and motion study itself more efficient? Then they could apply it to itself more efficiently, and make it even more efficient, and so on. How efficient could it get?

The Continuum Between Skills and Metaskills

I’ve actually been speaking of just “skills” and “meta skills” to simplify the discussion. There’s actually an entire continuous spectrum between the two. Take computer programming, for example. Programming computer games in Java is a specific skill. Programming arbitrary java applets is a slightly more meta skill, which includes the ability to program games, if you’re so inclined. Being able to program websites in arbitrary languages, learning the languages as you need ‘em, is a more meta skill. Going even more meta, you have the skill of programming any program, not just websites, in any language, learning the languages as you go.

One way to train a metaskill is to figure out the spectrum below it, and start low on the spectrum and work your way up. For example, if you want to learn to be a master teacher, you might start by simply learning how to teach your favorite subject, say, singing. Once you’re good at teaching people how to sing, you might generalize it to teaching people performance art in general. And from there, it’s not as big a jump to teaching people any arbitrary skill that you yourself possess. The master of a meta-ability probably got that way by applying the technique “by accident”, without actually being consciously aware of what was going on.

(published with kind permission of the Author, Sam Alexander, www.xamuel.com)


Turkish delights

Here is the video reporting moments from the meeting in Turkey (29 February-5 March 2012): work, culture and leisure time in Istanbul and Sapanca.

Thanks to Jesùs de la Fuente from Guadalajara, who shot the movie.


Break the chains

This is the second short movie shot in Istanbul during the 1st workshop of the EVALT projects and produced by the participating educators (acting, direction, shooting, editing): Time of crisis.

Topic: problems can be overcome when the person reacts proactively and changes his/her own mental and behavioral stereotypes that reduce the possibility to grow.

Synopsis: a teacher has lost his job and is in a depressive mood. Everything is black and there are no future perspectives in his mind. But he has the strength to react and expresses publicly his will to go beyond the crisis.

Galatasaray Hamam

During the workshop held in Istanbul in March this year, the participants - all volunteers working in education with disadvantaged groups of adults in Italy, Lithuania, Portugal and Spain - experienced the methodology of movies applied to adult education for empowerment and for the development of soft skills.

After having attended a theorical introduction about the method and a presentation on the methodological guidelines, delivered by the hosting partner Şişli Teknik ve Endüstri Meslek Lisesi, the participants were divided in two groups and had the opportunity to create a short movie for education, from the elaboration of an idea and a scenario, to shooting the movie. Time to play around with was not so much, but at the end two short movies were produced.They are not professional, on the technical point of view, because everything (acting, directing, shooting, editing) has been done by the participants, who are educators in sectors other than filming.

Here is the first one: Hammam is glue for friendship.

Topic: the difference among languages is not a barrier if persons have good attitude towards each other, have a will to understand other people and try to use other channels to communicate.

Synopsis: tourists from Lithuania, Italy, Spain and Portugal are in Istanbul and want to go to Galatasary Hamam. They don't speak English and ask information to a Turkish person, who is not willing to help. Second scenario: same situation but with different attitude by the Turkish person.


Meeting in Istanbul, 29 Feb-5 Mar 2012

From 29 of February to 5 of March 2012, the EVALT partners have met to attend the 1st workshop of the project, coordinated by Şişli Teknik ve Endüstri Meslek Lisesi.

The workshop was about the use of movies in adult education, in particular movie-therapy and shooting short films. The participants have had the possibility to experiment personally how to elaborate a scenario and to produce a short movie with educational purpose. The movies will be soon available in EVALT website.

Below some pictures from the meeting.

Tolga Vuranok presenting the workshops and the Turkish colleagues

The Portuguese team

The Spanish team and part of the Italian team

The Lithuanian team


Creative Growth through Art

Creative Growth Art Center is an organization, located in California, that serves adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities, providing a professional studio environment for artistic development, gallery exhibition and representation and a social atmosphere among peers.
For more information, news, activities, artists, click here!


Is there a hidden bias against creativity?

CEOs, teachers, and leaders claim they want creative ideas to solve problems. But creative ideas are rejected all the time. A new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people have a hidden bias against creativity. We claim to like creativity, but when we’re feeling uncertain and anxious—just the way you might feel when you’re trying to come up with a creative solution to a problem—we cannot recognize the creative ideas we so desire.

Generally, people think creativity is good. Before starting this study, the researchers checked that with a group of college students. “Overwhelmingly, the data showed that students had positive implicit and explicit associations with creativity,” says Jennifer Mueller of the University of Pennsylvania. She carried out the new study with Shimul Melwani of the University of Pennsylvania and Jack A. Goncalo of Cornell University.

But in experiments, people’s perceptions changed. In one experiment, the researchers made some people think about uncertainty—by telling them they might get some extra money after the study based on a random lottery. Other participants went into the study without that priming. They were all given a test that shows how they group concepts together. The people who had been made to think about uncertainty were more likely to subconsciously associate words like “creative,” “inventive,” and “original” with bad concepts like “hell,” “rotten,” and “poison.” In the other condition people associated creativity words with things like “rainbow,” “cake,” and “sunshine.”

“If I ask you right now to estimate whether or not you can generate a creative idea to solve a problem, you’re not going to know,” Mueller says. That feeling of uncertainty might be the root of the problem. When you’re trying to come up with a creative solution to a problem, you worry that you can’t come up with a good idea, that what you do come up with might not be practical, or that your idea might make you look stupid. “It feels so bad sometimes trying to be creative in a social context,” Mueller says.

This uncertainty may make leaders reject creative ideas. “But sometimes we need creative ideas. If you’re a company that makes radios and suddenly nobody’s buying them anymore, you don’t have a choice,” Mueller says—you have to come up with something new. Her research suggests that rather than focusing on the process of coming up with ideas, companies may need to pay more attention to what makes them reject creative ideas.

Source: Association for Psychological Science


Experiencing different cultures enhances creativity

Creativity can be enhanced by experiencing cultures different from one's own, according to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (published by SAGE).

Three studies looked at students who had lived abroad and those who hadn't, testing them on different aspects of creativity. Relative to a control group, which hadn't experienced a different culture, participants in the different culture group provided more evidence of creativity in various standard tests of the trait. Those results suggest that multicultural learning is a critical component of the adaptation process, acting as a creativity catalyst.
The researchers believe that the key to the enhanced creativity was related to the students' open-minded approach in adapting to the new culture. In a global world, where more people are able to acquire multicultural experiences than ever before, this research indicates that living abroad can be even more beneficial than previously thought.
"Given the literature on structural changes in the brain that occur during intensive learning experiences, it would be worthwhile to explore whether neurological changes occur within the creative process during intensive foreign culture experiences," write the authors, William W. Maddux, Hajo Adam, and Adam D. Galinsky. "That can help paint a more nuanced picture of how foreign culture experiences may not only enhance creativity but also, perhaps literally, as well as figuratively, broaden the mind.

Source: EurekAlert!

Complete article: When in Rome… Learn Why the Romans Do What They Do: How Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity