What did you learn this week?
This was one of the four questions that was asked by the project coordinators at the very end of the last session. In a way I think that many of the people in the project leader group were surprised when so many of the answers focused around the idea of cultural meetings. "I have learned things about the other countries". "I have met new friends". The answer that was perhaps expected would be something related to STEM, digital skills or global issues.
I would argue that in a world where so much is focussed on winning and losing and where your enemies are labelled "losers" and that is what you think is the worst insult for them, the most important you can learn is to respect each other and see things from others' points of view. In a world where borders are being turned into walls we don't need hammers to tear them down, we need hearts that never build them.
Then of course there are interesting things about actual learning that can be noticed. It is such a relief to see pupils wanting to learn things just for the fun of it and not to get any specific grades. In the beginning of the week here I heard questions about grades and criteria. Listening to the pupils on the bus back home from Warsaw some of them were talking about how much English they had learnt (or realized they knew and learnt how to use). They were also proud of believing in themselves. I almost cried. Finally somebody learns for life and not for school. Then there have been times when you could see kids (Swedish, English and Cypriotic as well as Polish) learning STEM and digital skills just for the thrill of it. There is one specific Polish boy who has been staying up late just continuing to fiddle with the I-pad he borrowed and made widgets with.
Please remind me of this the next time I get cynical about pupils that never hand in essays in time and can't focus during classes.