Sunday, 27 March 2011

no I'm not here just went into fast forward!

So i know i have A LOT to catch up on... but i dont want to skip anything so you're just going to have to be really patient.
Way back on February 3rd, 4th and 5th. My core class this semster, Children with Special Needs, went on Short Study Tour to Western Denmark.
We bussed our way through in Kolding, Skanderborg, Vejle and Odense (where i was for most of the weekend last semester).

Our first stop, was Egmont Hojskole, a school for young adults and adults with a mix of 'normal' and physically handicapped students. Of the 150 students that live and work there, 60 have some kind of disability. The son of the founder told us a special and personal story about his grandfather's life and how the school was started. Hw explained how a focus of teh school is to get kinds DOING. "You cannot learn anything if you are not trying it." Especially when it comes to handicapped children, parents tend to hear this phrase and start to worry about thier kids trying and failing. The school give the kids to try anyway without fear of bad concequences if they do happen to fail.
Later, an American anthropoligist, who is part of the staff at the hojskole, gave us a tour of the buildings and grounds and explained more about the everyday functioning of the school. The coolest thing about this school was that if i hadn't knwon that it was a place for handicapped kids, only the extra equipment spread sparatically throughout the buildings would make me notice. Otherwise, it was a really great school that had a stunning amount of extra art and music and technology programs available! Everything from sewing and clay and painting and photos to film and felt work and computer editiing and music and cooking- they had all knds of special rooms and materials. Other things that struck us were how open the school was to disabiliites, the influence that the student had as part of the school team, the unqie paring of abled and disabled peopel abd how well they school fit the two worlds together, it was seamless ant there did not aprear to be any of the awkwardness or charity that one might expect to find at a school like that in the US.  

the first class, 50 years ago

Next stop- The Vejle Kommune to hear a presentation about the changes going on with the school system in that municipality. The municipality of Vejle is the 6th largest in Denmark with 105,000 people. It is also the regional capital of the REgion of Southern Denmark. Henrik Lyngaard, consultant for inclusion and supervision of Vejle schools talked about the possible changes in the municipalitie's approach to special needs education. They main goal, is to include more children into the public school system and to train teachers how to teach to children with special needs.
 They are in a big transition period right now. A project is underway to start from scratch and design a brand new system of organizing the schools, students and school days.

We watched a video then had a long discuccion about possibilities and opinions. I had already seen another video by Ken Robinsen and loved it.  This one brought up even more good questions. I definitly recommend it->

That night our hostel was up at a campgroundin Skanderborg. We had our own cabins with two of the beds up in the loft area :)
That night Jen, my friends who works at DIS and was acting as our logistical person for the trip, put a funny traditional Danish game together for us to play after dinner.  (Background on Jen-She was a student here a few years ago and fell in love with Kim. At her graduation party after returning home he showed up to propose.  Now they are married and living in Denmark and she works in the Child Development Program at DIS.) the game has a present wrapped in multiple layers of wrapping paper, a scarf-hat-and-gloves set,  a fork and knife set and a die. the group sits in a circle and each person rolls the die trying to get a 6. if they do, they have to put on the scarf-hat-and-gloves set and use the fork and knife to try and open the present before another person rolls a 6 and takes everything from them. our class had three groups going at once and it was hilarious how competitive things got! it was a low key night, but the camp ground was really pretty and walking our on the dock over the frozen lake was beautiful even at night.

this old World War two bunker was off the hostel driveway 

Our first stop on Saterday was Braendkjaerskolen-Satellitten, a school that advertises itself as a special needs school that is very advanced in inclusive education practices. It is a 'twin school' with the regular public school and shares grounds with the 'normal' school but surprisingly after erading the inrto in our weekend packet, the school is very much a secluded learn instituion. The kids seemed happy but i would not really  have used the word inclusion to describe what I saw there. The 3 classes were very small groups of 6 to 7 kids and the groups were divided by different disability severity level. While the school shared grounds wth a 'normal' school when we asked about interactions between studetns, they description we got was of special activities about two time a school year-> not much of a strong connecting interaction.
 A really great thing about our visit here was that we got to go into the classrooms and try to interact with the kids. I started talking to a girl named Anna. For teh next hour i worked with her on vocab, and then on math. During math, it was great because she could count to ten in english and she wanted to practice with me, so as  she spoke with english munbers, i used danish numbers and we were both learning!
as i went to leave she gave be a big hug. Later, as our whole group was leaving the school, she ran out into the lobby to give me another big hug :)
So this was not what I would call a great INCLUSIVE education exaple, but  the school had lots of special methods and tools for catering to the childrens special needs. Since i have not had much experience actually owrking with disabled children, it was great to see an example of this kind of special attention school.  

we use this same kind of month descriptions in my practicum in Copenhagen

Stop 4: Odense Kulturhus
An activity based, community organization that offers services for people with physical handicaps. It was created as a eeting place for those in the community who wish to participate. It incorporates music, art, and knitting workshops. They also have a 'home counseling team' and a cafe that they run.
I bought a knitted bag from the loom room. It is beautiful work!!
After the presentation and tour, the culturhus band had a show in the cafe and out class decided to stay and listen for a while.
I ended up dancing with a trio of ladies and then we got a whole group of the poeple there to come dance with us. It was very fun :)

That night a group of us went out and explored the city. we ended up getting food at the turkish food restaurant my class went to for dinner last semester. i got dessert for dinner... and dessert for dessert :) i was a very happy girl :P
Next morning... we went to the Fyrtojet (the tinderbox) and the HC Andersen Museum like last semseter. This time, the story at the tinderbox was Den Lille Havfrue (The Little Mermaid!)
anyone who knwos me knwos what a little mermaid fan i am.....BUT...i had never heard the original version of the story!! it is not a happy story!!

these trees are actually called witch trees, from the stories HC Andersen writes.

(creepy sneaky photo of an adorable little family enjoying dressup!)

The weekend was great!
(shout out to my CMC class.. i missed you guys!!!)
and there wasnt any down time after that...
this semseter is zooming by so much faster than last semester!
i'll try to get another one up soon- sorry im so bad at keeping up this semester!

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