within the Geography Course
The article presents activities which were applied within extra-curricular program of Geography course at Majde Vrhovnik Primary School in Ljubljana. The program is carried out with primary schoolstudents in grades from 6 to 9. Aforementioned activities have forms of preparations for geography competition, mentorship in research and project work as well as involving students in educational process in cooperation with other institutions. Reaching higher goals is encouraged by deepened and extended curriculum content and different methods of work, such as independent studying, problem-related teaching and preparations for competitions.
Key words: extra-curricular activities, geography, primary school.
The Basic School Act enables the students who exceed standards of knowledge at a particular subject to join optional extra-curricular program (paragraph 20 and 23 of the act). The program (optional for students) prescribes the achievement of higher learning goals for students.
Within the subject of geography we offer students in-depth and expanded content that includes independent learning, problem-based learning and preparation for competitions, thus supporting students in achieving higher learning goals. Aforementioned activities have forms of preparations for Geography competition, mentorship in research and project work as well as involving students in educational process in cooperation with other institutions.
2. Extra-curricular activities
Extra-curricular lessons of Geography include preparations for different levels of the competition in the knowledge of Geography. Students widen and deepen their theoretical knowledge by studying required sources and literature. They also familiarize with the field work methods.
The competition in the knowledge of Geography is organised by the Institute for Education at school, regional and state level. Peculiarity of the competition lies in its division in two parts: theoretical, based on given written sources, and practical, which takes place in the field, where students, according to the rules, observe, measure, note and conclude. Practical part is followed by an examination which is based on the field work. The scope of the questions involved include five complexes: orienteering, field measurement and determining, natural-geographical concluding and explanation, social-geographical concluding and explaining, and calculations and statistical proving.
Picture 1. Field work (author: Bor Štrukelj)
Students can also choose a mentor for their research or project paper, according to their interests. As an example, a project in the form of series of posters was made by one of the students. Following an excursion to Triest within the geography lesssons, he presented a photographic study of the city and its community. His objective photo presentation was also accompanied by a theoretical part. The whole project was presented at the annual Meeting of Young Researchers, organised by the City Council of Ljubljana.
Picture 2. A photographic study of Trieste and its community (Author: Nina Farič)
The research paper by another student titled “Childhood in Rožna dolina” lies within the realm of Ethnology, but is nevertheless an example of interconnection of different subjects within a research work. The student has presented key factors which have influenced everyday as well as festive life of children in his neighbourhood. In the conclusion of the paper he argues that changes in the means of transport, traffic, as well as urbanistic and architectural interventions have influenced lifestyle of the children, depriving them of adequate place for socializing.
Another example of the research paper : “We and climate changes” and “Visits to mountains huts in the Julian Alps among Majda Vrhovnik primary school students.
As a part of extra-curricular activities, cooperation with the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Ljubljana was organised. A conservationist at the institute, presented her profession during a guided tour of Ljubljana’s cultural monuments with the support of information technology.
Picture 3. Guided tour of Ljubljana under the supervision of a curator from the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Ljubljana (Author: Nina Farič)
At the beginning of 2018 I participated in organising a supporting program to the exhibition of dr. Drnovšek’s life and work as a statesman, politician, Slovenia’s prime Minister, President of the Republic and citizen of the world. As a teacher of Geography and Social Studies I was able to interconnect different fields through a project. The exhibition emphasized dr. Drnovsek’s integrity and character in the context of historical development as a role model for a contemporary citizen.
The projected goals included:
- understanding democracy as a political system, which provides safe, organised and equal life for all individuals,
- understanding the role of a politician,
- discovering the character and posture of dr. Drnovšek, as well as understanding what kind of a politician citizens need, and
- understanding the issue of marginalized groups, such as Roma, aliens and refugees, especially in the context of current crisis.
One of more widely noted acts of dr. Drnovšek was his personal involvement on behalf of the Roma family of Strojan of Ambrus in 2006. A few days before Christmas, following a forced eviction of the Roma family, dr. Drnovšek tried to provide a shelter for them. His plan to enable the Strojans to celebrate Christmas in a residential container home was prevented by the peasant uprising of Ambrus.
The program was planned as problem-related. The first group represented the interests of the residents of Ambrus, the second acted in favor of the Roma community, whereas the third group acted as a judicial panel, which issued its ruling according to the presented arguments. At the end of the workshop all three groups presented their ideas in the form of 3D structure, thus enabling them to understand diversity of the society as basis for respect and tolerance (bridge = integration, pillar = politician’s integrity, colourful roofless fortress with doors on all sides = diversity of ideas and opinions, variety of political parties, public forum).
Picture 4. The presentation of ideas in the form of 3D structuret in the museum (Author: Nina Farič)
With the participation of the teacher of French language, a cooperation with a school from Bamako – (Academie D’Enseignement BAMAKO, Republic of Mali) was organised. The goal of the cooperation was to induce interest in cultural diversity among our students. In 2016 our school hosted Mr Nathanael Dembélé, son of the school’s principal and a member of a desert blues music band from Timbuktu, Mali. The band was formed in Bamako after forced expulsion during the civil conflict and the imposition of Sharia law.
During his visit Mr Dembélé was kind enough to present to our students the way of life, custom, traditions as well as musical heritage of the people of Mali.
Picture 5. The goal of the cooperation: to induce interest in cultural diversity (Author: Nina Farič)
The competition “Creative Presentation of a Place where I live” enables students to introduce original methods in describing a certain place, town or region. In the past students had decided to use Geography brochures, whereas in the last school year they have introduced other solutions, such as movies, posters and photo-stories. The students of our school have created Geography brochures for the neighbourhood of Rožna dolina in Ljubljana, Ljubljana Rudnik discrict and Kamnik pod Krimom, a small village in the municipality of Brezovica. They have also made a tourist souvenir for Kamnik pod Krimom in the form of treasure hunt game dealing with the cultural and natural heritage of the place.
Picture 6. Creative presentation of a place (Author: Nina Farič)
Article presents many activities which were applied within extra-curricular program of Geography at Majde Vrhovnik primary school in Ljubljana. Reaching higher goals is encouraged by deepened and extended curriculum content and different methods of work, such as independent studying, problem-related teaching and preparations for competitions.
With all these contents, methods and forms our students acquire, expand and deepen their knowledge, thus accepting it as an important source for discovering their homeland, which is one of the teaching goals of geography course.
- Basic School Act. 1996. URL: http://pisrs.si/Pis.web/pregledPredpisa?id=ZAKO448 (obtained 20. 2. 2022 )
- Kunaver, J.in sod.1989: Geografija. Domača pokrajina. Priročnik za geografsko spoznavanje domače pokrajine, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana.
- Območno tekmovanje iz znanja geografije. URL: http://sio.si/2017/03/09/obmocno-tekmovanje-iz-znanja-geografije-3/( obtained 20. 6. 2018)