Parents send their children to school so they can learn. Teachers generally want their students to understand and absorb what is shown to them. The greatest satisfaction, however, comes when students surprise us with their fresh ideas.
On 5 December 2017, the SIP Forum organized an event with the title “Soil is life!” at the Italian Cultural Institute in Brussels with the aim of raising awareness of the soil’s importance for all human beings. Teachers at the European School of Brussels arranged for some of their students to attend the event, in order to stimulate their interest in this complex subject. Their involvement led immediately to increased understanding that extended well beyond the evening itself.
The students who attended wanted to share what they had learned with their schoolmates from other sections of the school. They divided up into study groups and, based on what they had seen in December, prepared a presentation for their school. In order to communicate as widely as possible, they prepared their talks in two languages.
We had the honour to be invited to observe the session as representatives of the SIP Forum. And so it was that on 12 April we attended the session conducted in French, and the one in English on 26 April. Both sessions, each of which lasted about two hours, dealt with matters relating to the soil and its complexity. Complex messages were clearly and simply communicated, enabling around 300 students to gain an understanding of the importance of soil for life.
We were so amazed and impressed by the level of commitment shown by the students. They showed this in the research they carried out, the group work, the duration of the events, and their organizational and presentational skills, with results that were appreciated by all those who attended.
The satisfaction of the teachers of the Uccle European School was even greater, as the positive outcome vindicated their own involvement and personal commitment.
We mention these meetings to highlight an effective illustration of communication based on examples and a humorous approach: the synergy between experts, teachers and students; inter-generational understanding; increased awareness, both individual and collective.
All elements to bear in mind in future contacts with schools hopefully across the EU.