Erasmus RESCON Project – Viterbo

As part of the Erasmus RESCON Project, Innovative Methods to Support Resilience and Self-Confidence in Children, a group of five of us travelled to Viterbo, Italy, to share best practices with our European partners, and undertake training from the Emotional Training Centre about the Didactic of Emotions. There were several aspects of this week long gathering, which ranged from sharing and doing different forms of best practice to learning the techniques used to promote resilience within the learning environment. The best place to start is to give a brief overview of the Didactics of Emotions and why it is considered useful in promoting resilience.

Originally, the Emotional Training Centre was established to support teenagers within Viterbo who had become reliant on drugs and alcohol, through supporting them to build their resilience and ability to refuse the addictive substances. It was then thought that if children were taught how to become resilient from a young age, it would counteract the issues that they faced as teenagers. Thus, the Didactic of Emotion was developed, to train children aged 3 to 18 to understand emotions, through empathy, which would subsequently lead to resilience. Various age-related techniques are now used in local schools daily to allow children and young people to explain what emotions they are feeling and to understand how others feel, thus learning empathy. It was some of these techniques that were introduced to us during the training.

As part of our week we visited a school, which proactively uses the various techniques developed by the Didactics of Emotion. We were shown three classes in which the children showed enthusiasm during our observations. The first class, kindergarten (age 3-6) used the train of emotion; one grade 4 class (age 9-10) who had a feelings box, where they could anonymously write on a piece of paper how they were feeling and then post the paper in the box, the teacher then facilitated the opening of the box and gave the students the opportunity to say why they felt a particular emotion if they wanted to; and another grade 4 class who had made collages that reflected different emotions. It was a delight to meet the staff and children and hear their views and the reasons for why they felt these emotions, even if some of them were very personal indeed.

We felt this was a great chance to represent the University in Europe and to meet many from different countries and teaching backgrounds to exchange ideas, philosophies, find similarities and differences – and to ultimately question our own professional teaching approaches and styles. This was particularly pertinent through the sharing of best practices between partners from Austria, Belgium, Italy and Turkey, through playing different games and trying different activities.

All in all, the event was a melting point of different backgrounds which gave rise to a small community of practice. This resulted in a variety of ideas and approaches in promoting resilience in young children. Respect and friendly atmosphere were the prevailing aspects throughout the event. It is a brilliant initiation towards immersing self-confidence in children.

Attendees: Dr Alex Masardo Academic Subject Leader: Early Years and Education Mrs Wendy Crisp Acting Head of Gloucestershire Hospital Education Service Mrs Janet Oostendorp-Godfrey PhD Candidate Psychology/Education Title of research: “Can cognitive benefits of animal assisted interaction (AAI) increase attention and working memory skills for young people in educational settings?” Supervisors: Dr Graham Edgar and Dr Alex Masardo Mr Hamid Nedri PhD Candidate Education Title of research: “Which perspectives do on-campus and off-campus students follow to adjust throughout their transition to university?” Supervisors: Professor Hazel Bryan and Dr Benjamin Screech Mrs Louise Norman PhD Candidate Education Title of research: “Perceptions and experiences of mental health from a sixth formers perspective: a case study” Supervisors: Professor Hazel Bryan and Dr Alex Masardo

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