Arguing at school methodically makes the news on Croatian television

Croatian television shows how this primary school works to turn quarrels between children into valuable learning opportunities.

Croatian television shows how this primary school works to turn quarrels between children into valuable learning opportunities: they learn to listen, find words to express their own emotions and grasp those of others. They learn the existence and importance of different points of view. The method is Litigare bene by Daniele Novara, known and transferred thanks to three Erasmus+ projects from EduCATe (2015-18).

The video is available here.

Here is the English translation of the audio of the broadcast:

The Tour Education

Boris Miočić: Oof, I’m really nervous today, what a bad day, I’d really like to argue with someone, if there’s an argument it’s best to do it in the “Ivan Goran Kovačić” school in Vrbovsko.

The TourEducation – [music]

Boris Miočić: At the entrance to the primary school “Ivan Goran Kovačić” in Vrbovsko we hear something in general about the programmes and classes. Who better to explain than the school headmaster, Mr Anton Burić? Good morning!
Anton Burić: Good morning!
Boris Miočić: The school is very beautiful, cheerful, very colourful, and the children are very happy, I hope you are happy too!
Anton Burić: Thank you for noticing, it’s a cheerful, relaxed school, our goal is that everyone who comes in feels comfortable and that they are comfortable with us.
Boris Miočić: How many of you are there, pupils, teachers and classes?
Anton Burić: This school year we have 206 pupils, our school comprises five schools; three of them last eight years and two up to the fourth grade. We are now in the main building, which is attended by 110 pupils.
Boris Miočić: What are your programmes and activities?
Anton Burić: Our school educates for peace and ecology. The school cooperative is active in the school, the sports activity is successful, we are included in various projects, which we will also talk about today, and we are quite present in various activities.
Boris Miočić: All this serves for a beautiful and happy childhood.
The manager: That’s right, I hope it is! Thank you and I wish you much success.

Boris Miočić: The headmaster announced several projects, the most important being the Erasmus projects. Viktoria Samsa, the school librarian and projects coordinator, tells us about them. Good morning!
Viktoria Samsa: Good morning!
Boris Miočić: What themes do you develop?
Viktoria Samsa: One of the themes of our two projects is how to solve conflicts between pupils in a non-violent way.
It has an interesting name. How to argue in a positive way, “Litigare bene”?
Conflicts and quarrels are part of everyday life and we cannot avoid them, but what we can do is give tools to our pupils on how to solve conflicts in a non-violent way. For this, we have a very good method called “Litigare bene” (Arguing well), invented by the Italian pedagogue Daniele Novara and based on the idea of making students talk through conflicts in the “Conflict Corner”. When conflict occurs, what do adults do? They usually say: “Calm down! Whose fault is it? Who started it first?”
It is wrong to do so. We do not need to look for the culprit of the conflict because there is not one. Adults do not have to look for the solution, what we can do is give the children a chance to talk and let them find an agreement on their own. If adults do not meddle in children’s quarrels, the conflict is resolved within minutes.
This is a great relief for teachers and parents. From children’s point of view, it is an important experience in the art of living together. It means listening actively; talking, negotiating, and agreeing.
Our second project includes our partners from Belgium, Italy, Romania and Malta. We compare and search among ourselves for new methods with which we can deal with conflicts in a non-violent way and how to transfer them between countries according to our needs and different situations. With these projects, we want to create a system for working on conflicts in a non-violent way already in kindergarten, from the age of two up to nine years. From the age of nine onwards we have Peer Mediation, which is more appropriate for older pupils.
We want to connect the story with the local community because parents are very important partners and one day our pupils will also become adults, and members of the community and will have the tools how to address problems in a non-violent way.
Boris Miočić: You are teaching children how to argue. Although, believe me, many adults could learn something.
Let’s see in a concrete way, in reality, if you and I get into an argument about the Erasmus project; I say: “I don’t like this interview, I’m not happy, but you didn’t tell it well, you didn’t say what I wanted, what do we do now? The transmission will not go well…”
Viktoria Samsa: Boris I see that you are agitated, you are not happy with what I said. What do you think, what can I do to improve?
Boris Miočić: You have to say that “The Tour” is the best project of all and is a better programme than others, then I would be happy.
Viktoria Samsa: I agree that “The Tour” is the best broadcast because it promotes education and that is our goal.
Boris Miočić: Well done! Of course, this was a joke! You explained and presented this project very well, I thank you and wish you much success because we need non-violent people, intelligent young people and peaceful people. And you are working for that.
Viktoria Samsa: I agree it is important that young people learn at this age and acquire the tools, so that tomorrow they can fight with their bosses and with their spouses in a non-violent way, in a positive way.
Boris Miočić: It sounds like a beautiful society, we hope to go in this direction. You were very concrete, and now we see even more concrete examples! Thank you for the conversation.

Boris Miočić: The coronavirus pandemic that lasted two years has left consequences for all of us, we often talk about the mental health that has been affected, if we are talking about children the situation becomes more delicate. We greet the pedagogue of the primary school “Ivan Goran Kovačić”, Mrs Tanja Jakovac, who works on these projects. How are the children after the pandemic? What have you done during these two years?
Tanja Jakovac: you are right, even research has shown that the mental health of children, and of us adults, too, has suffered. We need activities to get back to normal. At school, we work for mental health we consider working on our pupils’ emotions and life skills. With our Key Action 1 and Key Action 2 project activities, we want to show our pupils, starting with the youngest, how important it is to work with emotions. This means: recognising emotions and expressing emotions, surely our little ones can do this if we adults can teach them. It is very important that we adults also learn to express emotions because it is the basis of everything, it is the basis of conflict and it gives us the opportunity to learn.
Boris Miočić: Sure, thank you for the conversation.

Boris Miočić: How the conflicts of the second class are resolved, teacher Jadranka Marović tells us.
Jadranka Marović: Welcome to our school! We can congratulate you that since last year we have introduced “Conflict Corners” in our class, which have proven to be a great way to deal with and sometimes resolve conflicts in a non-violent way, the children have accepted it very well. To get to the corners we did many workshops with the pedagogue and our librarian. We started with emotions. The children learned to recognise their own emotions. They learned how to manage, and recognise the emotions of others around them: because emotions are triggers. Last year we had a small group that constantly lived in conflict. We used the corner to solve the conflict in a non-violent way. The children, inside the corner, told their emotions; why they felt bad; they described the situation, without my intervention, independently. I was an active observer. They tried to find a solution and come to an agreement, so last year we managed to resolve some conflicts and those haven’t been repeated this year. It is very important that the children come to an agreement because if they come to it themselves, they respect it.
Boris Miočić: It’s a beautiful story, thank you for the meeting and keep it up!

The audio of the broadcast was translated into English from the Italian translation by Elena Passerini, revised by Viktoria Samsa
Photo Credit: Croatia Vrbovsko Škola Ivana Gorana Kovačića ©Elena Passerini