2nd part of LiterACTION: empowerment of young people and literary experiences in high schools

After the coffee break, we resumed the LiterACTION conferences with a round table on "Young people empowerment experiences" moderated by Amelia Platt (Engage! Young Arts Professional) with speakers Tina Ramdeen (The Roundhouse, UK) and Romasso Salaroli (Scomodo, Rome). As the latter couldn't be there personally, we heard the story about the students magazine Scomodo.

 

"We are told young people are passive, but that's not true." he stated. Scomodo magazine is written by many voices, and meetings are held to discuss articles. The initiative was born as a simple call for interest "and we did not expect all the people that came. Every month the influx varies, but we've come to count 500 people"

 

Romasso Salaroli
Romasso Salaroli

On the other hand, Tina Ramdeen told us about Roundhouse, a venue for concerts and shows, that has hosted famous singers and artists. According to Tina, "the projects we organize with young people are much more important"

 

In fact, they have full voting rights when it comes to making all the decisions about workshops and activities. This improves their self-esteem, as well as their skills and their CV, and "ensures that they will keep having an impact on society in the future."

 

Ramdeen also declared that "it is very easy to be stuck on status quo" and encouraged organizations to have young people in their team, regardless of whether or not they organize activities exclusively aimed at youngsters. "They show us that the world is changing. They are our future ".

 

During their conversation, Amelia and Tina came to the conclusion that it is not true that young people are not interested in art and culture (this is only said by those who have a narrowed view on what culture is) but they are in a different kind of art... technology, digital communication, street art, fashion design... this is also art and culture.

 

 

After them, we were able to listen to four women who talked about literary experiences in high schools (moderated by Esther Belvis). Céline Detappe (Lycée Pilote Innovant International of Poitiers, France) and Hélène Paumier (Turfur les éditions, France) teacher and student respectively, explained to us the creation of a publishing house as an extracurricular activity that has brought many surprises (during its two year lifespan, 7 books have already been published) 

 

When they launched this project they realized that it required working on many fronts: communication, legal department etc. One reef was financing, but they managed to avoid it by publishing digitally, something that ended up benefiting them.

 

"When a manuscript arrives, everyone can express themselves and vote democratically whether or not we publish it," said young Hélene Paumier, "everyone is involved."

 

This initiative has allowed them to create a network of friends, and consolidated and independent publishers have been involved. In addition, "I have learned to work in groups and listen to others; this is vital and will be vital in the future. As president of the editorial," added Paumier, "I had to learn how to manage problems, control and calm ourselves, and speak in public at official events. Two years ago we didn't know the impact this would cause, and if it wasn't for this project I wouldn't be studying the same subjects"

 

"They received many manuscripts and they read a lot" said Céline Detappe, the proud professor. She taught them to gain confidence and a critical sense, now she is the one who believes in them 100%. "If they fall and they don't succeed I know they will get back on their feet."

 

Detappe also took the opportunity to claim the need to forget about schemes. "Everything is categorized, and literature is transversal like so many other subjects, for all the skills that are being taught. Subjects must interweave." 

 

Professor Rosalía Delgado couldn't agree more. She was there to talk, along Mar Sureda-Perelló (UB), about the First Literary Dates project.

 

"Young people DON'T not read, they just don't do it as we want them to," Rosalía Delgado emphasized. One day she noticed that in the famous Spanish dating program, First Dates, people almost never talked about books, and thought that it would be interesting to use this format in class. "I wanted to turn the reader into the protagonist, promoting the pleasure of reading and integration."

 

First literary dates takes place on the children's and youth literature world day, April 2nd. Students eat an aftenoon snack as they debate the books they've read (those chosen from "literary" theme menus made up of their own suggestions) and record all the experience as in the television show. The organizers are seventeen year old boys and girls, and the rest of high school students can join in the experience. 

 

Three years later there are already 8 high schools doing this together, as well as libraries, publishers and the city council are involved. Delgado has also received emails from Valencia, Bilbao and Madrid by interested teachers. "We dynamited the canon so that everyone could find a book they would like to read." Instead of doing an exam on the book (contradictory with pleasure for reading), students must record a booktrailer or video review, and they are supervised by older  students (who are also responsible for the marketing campaigning of the event, preparing the snacks etc.) 

 

"In this project, the nerd that reads is not the one left outside alone, but the one that doen't take part"  said Delgado.

 

Mar Sureda-Perelló, who has helped the students record their First literary dates, fell in love with the project. "We gave them good cameras, we gave them some basic audio-visual advice and made them feel like they were professionals" something that enhanced their sense of responsibility.

 

This has allowed research work to appear on the advantages of working this way, on joint reflection and transversal literature. "Now the students say they want to organize a literary Survivor show..." Delgado concluded, laughing. 

 

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