Kateřina Pávková: how I educate senior citizens in the field of heritage conservation
An Andragogy Master’s degree graduate from Jan Amos Komenský University in Prague. I am currently working as a teacher/instructor in the Education and Further Learning Division at the National Heritage Institute. I have participated in the preparation and running of educational programmes, workshops and seminars which enable the general public to discover the value of our heritage and build a long-lasting relationship with it.
I first encountered the EPALE platform in 2020 when I took the Basics of Teaching online courses level I and II. I subsequently registered on the platform, and every week since then I have been eagerly reading interesting pieces that have both enriched my existing understanding and knowledge of andragogy and kept me abreast with the current affairs in the world of education.
In autumn 2019, I brought to life a two-year, pilot educational programme for elderly students, called the Heritage Academy of the Third Age, run on the National Heritage Institute premises. Eighty senior participants, who were 55 or older, enrolled onto the programme, and were then divided into two groups of 40 people each. The goal of the educational programme is to educate senior citizens in the field of heritage conservation and enhance their existing understanding and knowledge of the field.
Through both theoretical studies and real-life examples, the students have the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of historic monuments and the preservation of our cultural heritage.
Consequently, their attitudes towards our heritage may automatically cross over with their everyday lives. They can discover and explore the values created by our ancestors with more understanding. The curriculum has been structured so that the course provides practical information and advice, encourages the participants to pursue further studies, and possibly guides them to take part in voluntary activities in the field of heritage conservation. The lessons in the first term were taught on site once a month, separately for each group. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic entered our lives in February 2020, the lessons were brought to a halt. In order to maintain continuous social contact with the students throughout that time, I was sending them short messages with short videos attached, which had been recorded during that time by castle managers in the buildings that had closed down. Later, I myself travelled to chateaux and castles where I recorded a few interviews with the caretakers of the buildings. Then I sent out these video recordings to our elderly students. In autumn 2020, I organised two excursions for our elderly students as part of the lessons on the Historical Gardens and Parks Conservation topic. They went on a tour of the Gardens below Prague Castle and a tour of Kuks Hospice.
Then the epidemiological situation became worse again, and unfortunately, we could not switch to remote learning with this target group, as many of the students found working with PCs too complicated, and their computer skills were minimal. I recorded some of the subsequent lectures with the teachers and made them available to the elderly students via a YouTube channel. After over a half-year pause, we went on two more excursions in June 2021 and are going to take part in a Workshop – the Scribe Workshop in Sázava Monastery. In the Scribe Workshop, our elderly students will learn about the Glagolitic and Medieval Latin scripts. They can have a try at writing in these scripts and drawing with a quill and ink on scroll paper or hand-made coloured paper. The workshop will also focus on practising aesthetics and fine motor skills. The last lectures on the conservation of the vernacular architecture heritage and the Interior Installation and Exhibition in the National Heritage Institute buildings are awaiting us in the autumn. At the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, I conducted a questionnaire survey, which has demonstrated that throughout the entire course, the Heritage Academy educational programme was providing its students with an environment that facilitated meeting similar-minded people, which strengthened their social networks. Despite the problems the educators had to deal with during the first course of the two-year study programme due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been demonstrated that senior citizen education in the field of heritage conservation has positive and beneficial outcomes from the education and learning point of view.
In this lifelong learning programme, the senior citizens were given the opportunity to appreciate the value and importance of our cultural heritage. As grandparents (which is an irreplaceable social role), they can then pass on the knowledge and skills they have acquired to the next generations within their own families. Family is a primary social group a person is born into, in which we adopt our social values, standards and attitudes towards ourselves, our surroundings and life itself. The Heritage Academy course can be viewed as intergenerational learning. Senior citizens will be able to better explain to their grandchildren how important it is to protect and conserve our heritage, and that it is their moral duty to maintain our heritage for the future generations.
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