Ioana Aldea, architect, Romania
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Why did you create this innovation?
The Romanian battle for a better living environment is fought against ignorance! Every child has the right to know about the complex processes that transform the built environment he/she lives in. By providing resources & tools for understanding the environment we live in, children are better equipped to make choices in the future and the ideas that they are too part of the society are reinforced.
How does your innovation work in practice?
All the programs designed, starting with 2011, are meant to support children in developing a range of skills and abilities which are less used in the traditional educational process in Romania: interpretation and abstract thinking; representation and visual expression, sense of place and space; creativity; the ability to observe, to perceive and critically analyze the built environment, identifying its values; the civic sense and the responsibility towards both built and natural environment.
Children love it, parents appreciate the original activities, whilst teachers see the potential of a program which normally doesn’t take place in school as part of the regular curriculum, an intersection and coming to fruition of all other subjects taught which link together and give a bigger picture, helping children get ready for the real world. With the presence of a built environment professional alongside the teacher, pupils are being exposed to another kind of education, an experiential one.
How has it been spreading?
For us, as for many others, 2020 was a turning point, but also full of opportunities. We’ve adapted to the pandemic context and created new digital content, easily available on our channels with the hashtag #DeaArhitecturaAtHome, we’ve developed an online guide for the program “My School Can Be Cool” (participative design) and provided the tools for assessing the learning progress/learning skills of those involved, to be used by both teachers and students, we’ve partnered with a national radio station and curated “The city for people” radio show talking about relevant topics in our field during the pandemic.
The next years will be focused on consolidating our programs in the new reality and tackling a newer age group for us – high-school and university students, alongside adults.
If I want to try it, what should I do?
To replicate the program in a different context you can contact the association at firstname.lastname@example.org. The course materials are mainly in Romanian, but over the years we’ve translated part of it into German, Hungarian, English and French. In Romania, all De-a arhitectura teaching materials, workbooks and training courses are free for their users in the public schools.
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