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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teacher Roundtable: Good Deeds Societies

Welcome to a roundtable discussion with Tadeja Toppolnik, a teacher from a Slovenian school, OŠ dr Ivan Prijatelj Sodražica, which participated in a competition revolving responding to a book, Good Deeds Society, and thinking about how children and the community could collaborate in a good deeds society.

What is your name, your position, and your involvement with your school?

Tadeja Topolnik , Teacher of the Slovene language (Slovene teacher )
Pastoral/ Home Class teacher of Grade 8 pupils, The coordinator of programs for children with special needs and also a member of the School Board

What is your involvement in your school's Good Deeds Society essay contest and in potential future activities regarding a Good Deeds Society?

The principal received an invitation for the school to include itself in a literary competition
from Sodobnost International . As I am one of the Slovene teachers at the school the task was given to me . My colleague Lucija Petelinšek and I discussed the matter and passed on the information to all our students from grade 6 onwards. It was decided then that I would coordinate the activity . Children brought their literary works to view and together we discussed and developed thier views.

Maybe an idea for future work would be to encourage or promote »understanding« between parents-pupils and teachers for specific problems. This could be done in the form of a workshop with all three groups of the population present- giving an opportunity for views to be aired and at the same time listened to, and finally discussed. Institutions like »The Centre for Youth« in Ljubljana or qualified professionals could be invited to give a seminar on themes that are common to this target population.

What are three areas where you can see benefits for students by getting involved in a Good Deeds Society? What problems might it address?

Getting involved in a Good Deeds Society is a positive step toward making the environment we live in more pleasant, understanding and tolerant.

The problems it may address could be involved with the

1) environment,
2) the elderly
3) youth

As far as the environment is concerned it could coordinate or help with the organising of cleaning-up activities in Sodražica ( township-square, river,..) and promoting the sense of pride in having a clean environment to live in.

The elderly could be helped through the Good Deeds Club not only in receiving help but also in sharing their knowledge, handicrafts, story telling, etc,.. with the young. This would develop communication between generations.

Spending quality fun/free -time is a very big problem amongst the youth of Sodražica . It should be made clear that alcohol or drugs are not the central reason for getting together and having fun and in this way dealing with boredom. Maybe doing good deeds or being included in a sports club would minimize non-quality free-time!

Money is an important factor in the game. Leadership is also another factor to be considered. Maybe experience from other communities would help in the development of the above ideas in Sodražica.

Maybe by the pupils defining the problems themselves, they become aware and understand that if any changes are to happen they must come from them (or us)!

How can you make sure that the major energy stays at the student level, and that they generate enthusiasm for the activities from a grassroots level?

I believe that discussion gives rise to initiative for projects to happen. Initially pupils would be invited to a round-table discussion – pupils who show empathy for such a project/group - and develop the steps from there. Adults/teachers could lead and nurture the development of such a group and develop the individual potential of the group's members. ( roles - President,secretary,…)

Where is one good way, in our opinion, for students can ideas and work on line on the internet?

Maybe the pupils could create a school web page presenting their activities, continually inviting membership and inclusion of other pupils.
Communicating with other schools which have set up similar projects/groups building friendships.

How can teachers involved in your Good Deeds society benefit from contact with teachers in other parts of the world?

If we communicate with people who share similar ideas our cause is stronger .

Spreading the idea of »good deeds« around the world will make a better world – working at a local level can make Sodražica a better place to live in . In this way pupil awareness is developed and hopefully some action will come forth !

Contacting teachers in other parts of the world could give us ideas for projects etc… and also allow friendships to develop.

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