After some months, two Italians teachers of primary school recollect their training experience in Croatia.

by Chiara Bevaqua and Luisa Ziliani

I am very happy to be able to take a moment to describe the Erasmus + project I had the pleasure to attend at the end of August 2023.
While September continues to be an especially hectic period for teachers, I must admit that the professional development week I am about to discuss allowed me to start and live this new school year with renewed energy and knowledge.

“Arguing at School”, the title of this particular European project, deals with an important topic in modern society and can ensure that the classroom becomes a safe place for students to express and learn to deal with emotions and conflicts. In this way, conflict is no longer violent nor inevitable, but rather becomes an opportunity for growth.
During the learning week in August 23, I was exposed to various approaches with different objectives: implementing emotional literacy among students, practicing storytelling techniques and comparing a number of different management skills.

I believe the strength of such an experience lies in the opportunity it gave us to view and practice hands-on activities.

I feel privileged to be able to share all I learned with my colleagues returning to my Montessori school, where we will be experimenting and implementing the methods we focused on during our school year. A no less important aspect of the project, which encourages me to recommend a similar learning week to other colleagues, is the interesting discussion and confrontation time we participants engaged in with European partners. I found this exchange of ideas both extremely enriching and enlightening.

In conclusion, what I will most remember is definitely the importance of allowing time for my students to experiment with emotions, words and conflicts.

No subject or curriculum planning can, in fact, be more important for our students than learning expression and confrontation as future peace-makers and global citizens.
In the international turmoil we are addressing today, the words of Maria Montessori which stress the building of a peaceful nation through education, have never been more appropriate.

Chiara Bevacqua

What my colleague Chiara has so well expressed and described, is totally confirmed by my own experience in Ogulin.
I can simply add that I was delighted to meet other teachers from many countries and that the hospitality of the Croatian colleagues made me feel at ease immediately; I also appreciated their professionality in sharing their experience about the different methods applied regarding “Arguing at school”.
Furthermore, it was really interesting for me to visit their schools, see their classrooms and the different organization of the spaces; it’s also been a precious opportunity to discover some general aspects related to education in Croatia, as I think we can learn a lot from these insights.

Back at my school in Italy, I immediately shared the most vivid impressions of my experience with my colleagues of the Montessori classes.

In this year I’m trying to create occasions and spaces where I can partake the main aspects of the project in a more detailed and professional way, so that we can transform them into useful tools, side by side with the ones we are already using (such as the Cooperation council or The non-violent communication).

All that said, I can just say that I’m really grateful for such an enriching experience, both from a professional and a personal/human point of view.

Luisa Ziliani