When she started teaching, at the age of 18, while still in college, Raphaela Duarte had a dream: to combine contact with people and her passion for numbers. “I like people and realised that school offered contact with different people, with unique experiences and different ways of looking at life.” Raphaela is a Maths tutor and teaches 8th and 9th grade classes at Escola Municipal Francisco Portugal Neves, one of the three institutions to welcome the Creative Schools project in Niterói/RJ.
Created through a partnership between Enel Distribuição Rio, Niterói Town Hall, Rio de Janeiro Culture Department and Aneel in 2017, the project brings to the school environment new proposals to work with the themes of art, culture, innovation, energy efficiency and sustainability. Out are the lined-up chairs and blackboard. In are sharing experiences, cultural presentations, new technological equipment and courses for students and teachers in themed classrooms with playful visual identity, colourful and with illustrations that take participants to the world of digitalisation, creativity and culture.
“The projects works not only in the cognitive formation of the individual, but also tastes, the arts, liking and not liking something, the impressions students get from every theatre play, every dance performance and every musical number. I think this is extremely important. It comes to help us extrapolate the classroom universe. It is a different view of art and education,” celebrates the teacher.
Inserting these themes into school develops not only the student’s knowledge, but their communication, behaviour, interest for regular subjects in the curriculum and even the meaning of attending school. These two last factors are currently among the main reasons behind school evasion according to the Department of Education. Data from the All For Education Movement (December 2018) claims that, among 16-year-old teenagers, one in four has stopped attending classes. Among 19 year olds, of every three, two will leave school without finishing their studies.
New perspectives that inspire motivation
Teacher Raphaela uses the resources from the Creative Schools initiative to give other perspectives to her classes and prevent these evasion figures from growing: “Many times I brought my students to the project’s themed classroom installed in the school and they asked me to sit on the floor, to interact with class in a different way – and it was a great experience. Although they are still in school, they don’t feel like they are in that traditional classroom mode. I remember that once I worked on the “geometry” theme here in the room with the class, exploring the floor and ceiling perspectives, inside and out, and this helps to broaden the students’ horizons. When pupils enter an environment where they start seeing themselves from a different perspective, this also helps their behaviour so they are quieter and pay more attention to the subject. It is very good in that sense,” she explains.
In addition to the experience shared by students, the tutor has also taken part in a teacher training course about Brazilian Culture, offered within Creative Schools. “It is something that doesn’t seem to have a direct relationship with Maths, but that is very important to broaden my world view and my creativity in the classroom. I really enjoyed the course.”
Motivation ignited by the new
Thayane Santos, 11 years old, is a 6th grade pupil at the same school where Raphaela teaches. She lives with her father, her “aunt” – as she likes to call her stepmother – and her siblings, and wakes up every day at 5am to go to school. A lover of capoeira and the arts, Thayane has never watched a live ballet performance, but had that chance when the City of Niterói Ballet Company performed at her school on June 25th.
“They can communicate physically. The conveyed a very positive energy, I will even try and do ballet! I had never seen them do when they did today, only on TV,” says the pupil, who started practising capoeira a few months ago to improve her communication skills.
Thayane is only 11, but already knows the importance of this kind of initiative to bring cultural attractions to the school environment: “When children leave school, they stay on the street. With ballet, they can occupy their time with other things. There are children who want to be designers, doctors, lots of things. Through culture, you learn and can reach other places.”
Generating creative minds
These new places go through Photography, Audio-visual, Cultural Production and Musical Theory. The arrival of these new disciplines at Escola Municipal Maestro Heitor Villa-Lobos, another institution that hosts Creative Schools this year, sparked the interest of many pupils in learning new skills for free. Israny Silva, a 6th grade student, chose Audio-visual to come closer to the world of video recording and editing.
“It’s cool, we can learn many things. We not only see the audio-visual content, but also topics on equality, the environment, ethnicity,” she says. This is in fact the first time the pupil has taken part in cultural activities in school.
In addition to training, the course also involved students in themes for reflection and debate. “We are producing a film about equal rights, talking about racism and homophobia. We have already learned how to record, so now we will start making interviews and putting the film together, editing. This theme is very important because there are many people with closed minds that need to learn more about this,” Israny explains.
Although she really enjoys playing and chatting to her friends, it is the Audio-visual course that motivates the pupil to attend school: “I am more keen to go to school so I don’t miss anything. Furthermore, you don’t get your certificate if you miss more than two days.”
To this day, more than 630 people have been impacted by the Creative Schools project in Niterói – a pilot that will be replicated in other cities in the country soon, such as Jericoacoara, in Ceará. The project’s main gain goes way beyond the Inclusive and Quality Education predicted by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number 4. Israny sums up: I become a better person because I can learn more things and take care of my environment and of my future.”