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Secondary art students from Slovakia learning new skills abroad

16/01/2019
by Noemi Ráczová

The Secondary School of Applied Arts in Kosice, Slovakia, is small secondary vocational school with a rich 45-year long tradition in art education. It has 11 art departments and 330 students aged 16-19. They come from all the regions of east Slovakia. Some of them come from families with low income, but they are all talented and motivated to learn. It is a pleasure and challenge to teach and motivate those students. 

My name is Noemi Ráczová and I am an illustartor and teacher. When I started teaching 17 years ago, I have already completed 2 university studies. As an illustrator and teacher of art subjects on a secondary vocational school I was aware, that I should offer my students the best education, so after their graduation they would be able to find their place on the labour market. As classical illustrators learning only traditional art techniques it seemed impossible in the new 21st century digital world.

It was there where my story started: I decided to learn digital illustration myself, started creating YouTube demo tutorials about my digital painting process in Slovak language, cooperated with publishing houses and graphic studios, learnt the new digital techniques myself and have implemented them into the existing curriculum. I also tested my new ideas on digital teaching on my adult learners during summer courses in Slovakia and abroad - so I can have their feedback and improve my teaching process. Back then we had only 3 computers at the whole school, now we have around 8 computer classrooms and we need a lot more including 3D printers, scanners, licenced software, graphic Wacom tablets.

Together with my husband we started cooperating with leading companies working in the field of digital art and finally we created a 4-year long curriculum for secondary vocational schools in Slovakia: Digital painting and Concept Art. Together with the leading digital art companies in Slovakia (Pixelfederation, Inlogic and Functu) we presented the curriculum to the Ministry of Education in Slovakia and we succeeded - the Ministry accepted it as a new school curriculum.

This year 2018 we have our first 3rd grade students, who really enjoy the process and have already experienced their first success. They have the opportunity to cooperate with digital artist not only in Slovakia but also from the whole world. They attend workshops and summer courses lead by professionals, they already participated on a 3 week long Erasmus+ mobility in Hungary to learn 3D digital sculpting. 

We had 4 hosting institutions in 2 countries - Poland and Hungary. The students had some activities before the mobility, which took place at our school. They included: language and psychological preparation, informative meetings on cultural and organisation aspects.

4 students worked for an Arboretum in Poland, where they created photos and graphic design items (information boards, posters) for the host institution under the supervision of a tutor. They also created educational materials - coloring books, leaflets - for elementary school pupils according to the Arboretum needs.

20 students worked in Budapest in 2 famous graphic studios, where they created various art and 2D design work for the clients in cooperation with the hosting institutions. 

16 students attended a 3D design and modelling course in Hungary, lead by a professional tutor. They created also 3D models of animals which were printed and exhibited in the host country and home country as well. 

All students presented their work in public in a form of exhibition. They gained precious experiences during these 3 weeks, knowledge and soft skills as well. 

I feel more content now, I know that my student will have open doors and many opportunities after graduation not only in Slovakia but all over Europe. I am aware of the fact, that there is quite a lot of work ahead us, and there are still some problems waiting to be solved but with motivated students and professional partners I feel we look forward to a great adventure.

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