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Newsletter, July-October 2018

We are all products from our childhood

L. Firstova

The programs for preventing risk behaviours and HIV/AIDS among children and youth - 'Ladya' for teenagers, 'Living Water' for primary schoolchildren and 'Way to Home' for college students - have been successfully implemented in the town of Zarechny, Sverdlovsk Region. The article is about the project 'Strong Family School' based on these programs (information on the recent training seminars for these programs is given in the News section of this issue of the Newsletter).

We all are products of our childhood is a popular saying but do we always think over its meaning? More often than not, this commonly accepted thesis is used to explain problems and difficulties encountered by an adult. The authors of the Strong Family School project have gone beyond it. If we are all products of our childhood, it means that it is in our childhood that a foundation is laid for our future happiness - that of a particular person, family, city… Well, think more broadly - that of the whole country.

Father Vyacheslav Inyushkin, rector of the church of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, director and inspirer of the project:

The Strong Family School project was designed as an educational one. Its essence is a frank heart-to-heart talk of a teacher (more often, a supervising teacher, with children on the perpetual themes of friendship, love, relationships, family, meaning of life and many others. Its aim is to educate children for common human traditional values.

Actually, what is new here, you will ask - a teacher talks with children each day anyway. Sometimes it is also a heart-to-heart talk, if a pupil does not understand Russian. Still, the realities of time draw their sad picture… In today's world, the traditional way of family life is lost; relations between generations are broken; traditional perception of parenthood and childhood has been destroyed. The growth of divorces, the increase in the proportion of small and one-parent families, the development of destructive models make a negative impact on the personality of a child and prevent him or her from building strong and happy relations in the future and from making a responsible approach to the bearing and upbringing of children. That is why, the authors of the project believe, it is so important today to work for spiritual and moral formation, education and propaganda of family values. This work should be carried out not only at home, but also in school.

The Strong Family School project is based on network cooperation between the Orthodox School and general education schools in Zarechny.

The Orthodox School as organizer of the project:

  • provides partner schools with the program and methodologies for carrying out formative and educational work with schoolchildren;
  • conducts trainings for teachers of partner schools for their further work with schoolchildren;
  • organizes regular meetings of teachers from partner schools which participate in the project for exchanging experience and solving pressing tasks and problems;
  • pays teachers of partner schools involved in the project;
  • carries out activities for parents to popularize the project and develop support for it.

The partner schools take upon themselves the following obligations:

  • to involve teachers of their schools in the project;
  • to organize meetings with parents and assistance for popularization of the project;
  • to form student groups for implementing the project.

In spite of the fact that the project is organized by the Orthodox Church, it is an absolutely secular project based on the principles and values commonly accepted and not depended on faith.

The core of the project lies in the work with 3-11 grade pupils. The teachers are trained and then work with children according to the three programs: Living Water (for primary school). Under this program, conditions are created for developing the inner potential of the personality of a child; then in the secondary school, Ladya program is used to form a system of traditional spiritual and moral guidelines; and in the high school, the Road to Home program is used with the aim to introduce schoolchildren to the traditional system of family values and to prepare high school children for creating the family.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, the project has been carried out experimentally with the support of the Zarechny Municipal Administration and Education Department. Participating in the project are 29 classes in 2, 4, and 7 general education schools.

Ms. Natalia Zerkaliy, project organizer: 'Last year, we launched the project in the test mode. Of course, we believed in success but decided to refrain from large-scale actions in case something would go wrong, so that we could rectify mistakes locally.

The effect we have received has exceeded all our expectations! To be more precise, along with the expected result we have received a number of 'side' effects. Certainly, we have had a great positive feedback from teachers who joined the 'pilot' project. It has become easier for them to build relations with children and easier to understand them. Something has changed in the teachers themselves.

What was unexpected is that parents have become more active. They have joined in, became more interested in the program; lively human contacts have become more active in classes'…

A successful experience inspires people to new achievements. In the new academic year, the Strong Family School project has been joined by teachers from all the schools in Zarechny.

Victoria Afonina, educational programs trainer: 'For the second year now we have worked in the Strong Family School project in your town. It should be said that we happened to train for this programs in other cities as well. There is something to be compared to. I can say with confidence that Zarechny is a unique city. We have seldom seen such a comprehensive and systemic approach! When out of 30 schools only 30 people come, we understand that it is better than no nothing, but the effect will be negligible. As of today, the project in Zarechny includes over 90 teachers! It means that children here in the process of education will smoothly go from one step to another and gain maximum from the program.

I can see that teachers are burning with this idea. They are ready to spend time and resources. They are charged. And it is first of all because they see an output.

You see, one cannot teach something without having experienced and understood it oneself. Before applying new methods to children, teachers test them on themselves, sometimes experiencing difficult situations and unexpected insights. They discover smoothing new for themselves and in themselves! We are working for a second year now and can see how they change'.

Yelena Severina, program trainer: 'I am a teacher and a psychologist myself. Looking back at my school years, I did very well in school - only two 'good'-marks in my graduation certification, the rest are 'excellent'. But if you ask me now, I will not be able, believe me, to remember a single physical or chemical formula and can do a mathematical problem only on the 6-grade level.

It is my deep conviction that not even a half of the school knowledge proves to be useful for us in our adult life, except for the knowledge related to our chosen occupation. But all of us without exception are to live this adult life. And it is desirable that it should be full-fledged and happy. And here we need a knowledge going far beyond school textbook.

For this reason, I like the Strong Family School programs so much. They help a teacher to change the format of communication with a pupil, to rise from the formal teaching to the level of simple human communication and deep mutual understanding.

If you go further in this approach, it generates profound respect, trust, a pupil's human interest towards the teacher and through this an interest in the subject. You see? It is an altogether different motivation in studies, which helps preserve the balance of human relationships as an important component of the formation of a personality'.

There are many participants in the project, and almost each of them has given an emotional response to the organisers. It will take too much time to publish them all, but we still wish to cite some of them.

L. Khilchenko: 'The program has given me an opportunity to think once again over perpetual questions and values of life. Some elements I will certainly take for my work with high schoolchildren.
Thank you!

O. Pavlova: 'Training is more important for me personally, for me to understand myself deeper, to change my life for the better, to think over many questions vitally important for each person in any age. I need training for my work with children in order to form their moral values and to get to know them from a new side. I hope that I will be able to help them in this complicated life'.

S. Vashurina: 'It is a remarkable program! I consider it very useful for our today's life as it makes one think over eternal values sometimes depreciated in our world. Chrystal clear, my pedagogical receptacle has been enriches'.

S. Alnagieva: 'I cannot imagine my work without the application of the Way to Home course. The program is ideal for high schoolchildren: it reflects their interests in life and protects them from problems in the future. I am looking forward to implementing the course in my class. Lessons make out of teachers a whole community of interested people with glowing eyes'.

The organizers plan to continue and broaden the project. Indeed, it is not enough to get new knowledge and move to schools to sow wisdom, sow the good, the eternal. In their work with new tools, teachers encounter unexpected difficulties - trainings cannot foresee everything. And the organizers are aware of it. For this reason, along with educational trainings, there will be a winter consultation session for the project participants and, certainly, support in the current mode. Besides, at multiple requests, seminars will be held this year for parents, who have not remained indifferent to the project. And for solving acute family problems and assistance in searching for a way out of crisis situations, it is planned to open a family counselling room this year at the Orthodox School.

But it is not all! A lively interest in the project has been shown by children's pre-school institutions (whatever you may say, some basic notions and values are probably laid in in the cradle), as well as the Urals Technological College. So, the project organizers have something to press forward. But these are plans already for the 2019-2020 academic year. Support would be very welcome!

The Strong Family School project is implemented with the support of the following entities:

  • Rosenergoatom concern and Byeloyarskaya APP;
  • Zarechny municipal administration and educations directorate;
  • Presidential Grants Foundation.

Source: https://vk.com/doc152460308_476274461?hash=f28ce67cd2f574b12d&dl=cf9d4ccd9d08bf83bf

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