Our Mythical School Ventures
A close collaboration with schools and the engagement in citizen science constitute the foundation of our work. They are also an incessant source of joy to our team from the very beginning of the Our Mythical Childhood programme. Thus, it was only natural to us to consolidate our actions within the ERC Consolidator Grant Project.
Each year we choose a different venture, linked to the Project’s current stage, and elaborate it with the experienced educator and coordinator of our schools collaboration Barbara Strycharczyk (teacher of Latin and the Ancient Culture). The high-school students implement this venture with their teachers and develop their first scholarly works. The results are presented during the Project’s workshops and conferences at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” in Warsaw. Thus, we can all meet – the students, the teachers, and the scholars from various continents – from America, through Europe, Africa, Asia, to Australia and New Zealand. The high-school students are invited to participate in the chosen panels. We have great opportunities to talk and share our results. There are also minor tasks within the Project, we carry out together in response to various academic challenges, like Homer Reading Session in 2019. We deeply believe in citizen science, as it help us understand each other better and it strengthens our team work.
All this is possible due to the outstanding engagement from the students and their teachers who respond to our ideas with enthusiasm and trust, and with a kind consent from the schools’ headmasters and the students’ parents or tutors. At this place, we wish to thank them all deeply! This is a sign that there is a bright future for the ancient culture as a communication code building Our Mythical Community.
15 March 2017 – ERC Day
The OMC Grant started in October 2016. As soon as in March 2017, we had an excellent opportunity to celebrate the beginning of this wonderful adventture as it coincided with the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the European Research Council. Thus, for the ERC Week, we decided to organize an event that would be open also the wide public, including high-school students and teachers. We prepared a few panels with the presentations by the team members from Warsaw with a tele-bridge with Australia and Italy, and a session of games inspired by the ancient culture. Our invitation met with positive reactions and we had great time discussing some chosen reception cases and playing various games (incl. Scrabble in Latin) together. In sum, docere, movere, delectare, in practice!
May 2017 – Our Mythical Hope
In May 2017 the OMC team, experts, and collaborators met for the international workshops and the conference to discuss the results of the first stage of the Project – the studies into the reception of Classical Mythology in children’s and young adults’ culture. “Strumienie” High School from Józefów and XI Mikołaj Rej High School from Warsaw were involved in this stage, too. The high-schoolers from these schools studied with their teacher the role of the ancient myths as tools to decipher hidden meanings in culture, with a particular focus on the texts in the school curriculum. They presented the results of their work at two panels at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” UW and in the “Strumienie” High School.
The students with their teachers undertook various tasks. They were searching for some echoes of myths in Warsaw urban space. They prepared advertising posters referring to the heroes and gods from Greek and Roman mythology. They used mythology as the key to understanding the Polish national epic Pan Tadeusz [Sir Thaddeus]. Last, but not least, they staged short scenes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights’ Dream in Latin.
The high-schoolers could also listen to the presentations of the students of the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” UW who attended the Grant Seminar. Thus, they could meet and discuss the research work on myths both with their almost peers and the experienced scholars.
Young people today willingly adopt artistic strategies to express themselves. The high-schoolers participating in the Our Mythical Hope venture used photo and movie cameras, smartphones, computers, etc., to prepare their presentations. We were also joined by the students of the I Community School in Raszyńska Street in Warsaw, who prepared an exhibition of their artworks, under the supervision of their then teacher and the author of the Our Mythical Childhood Pegasus-painting – Matylda Tracewska.
The poster with the schools’ programme is available here.
In focusing on the role of ancient myths in the life of young people, we could together strengthen the bridge between the generations, including our Greek and Roman ancestors who – quod erat demonstrandum – turned out to be able to still give us hope for the future.
For the reflections and comments of the participants in the event see the reportage:
For more about the workshops see here.
May 2018 – Present Meets the Pasts
In May 2018 the international workshops The Present Meets the Past took place. We celebrated in this way the European Year of Cultural Heritage. The students presented their works during a panel in the festive Senate Hall of the University of Warsaw and they took part in some workshops run by our team members from various continents. Thus, we all had a precious opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from each other.
The students explored the historical background of XI Mikołaj Rej High School and they researched the biographical materials about Bogdan Kajak – a boy who had payed with his life for his participation in clandestine education during WWII. These materials were also published as a small booklet, available in Open Access here.
For the reflections and comments of the participants in the event see the reportage:
A movie from the workshops:
For more about the workshops see here.
20 February 2019 – Homer on Air
The OMC team joined the international initiative of the Festival Européen Latin Grec de Lyon and organized a session of reading Homer’s Iliad. We met at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” on 20 February 2019 to read a selection of verses dedicated to Hector and Andromache in various languages – from Ancient Greek, through Latin, English, German, French, Modern Greek, Polish, Belarusian, Russian, Spanish, up to Japanese, and Sakha (Yakutian).
We invited also the studens of XI Mikołaj Rej High School (tutor: Anna Wojciechowska) and “Strumienie” High School (tutor: Barbara Strycharczyk) to read Constantine Cavafy’s poem Trojans, together with the students of the Modern Greek curriculum (tutor: Sotirios Karageorgos) at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”. The movie from Cavafy’s reading can be watched here:
For more about the Session see here.
May 2019 – Our Mythical History
In May 2019 the OMC team, the experts and collaborators met to discuss the results of the second stage of the Project – one focused on the analyses of the reception of the history of Ancient Greece and Rome in youth culture. At this stage we were most pleased to broaden our collaboration. The “Strumienie” High School in Józefów with Barbara Strycharczyk (teacher of Latin and Ancietnt Culture) and Mikołaj Rej XI High School in Warsaw with Anna Wojciechowska (teacher of Latin) were joined by two schools: Nicolaus Copernicus University Academic Junior and Senior High School in Toruń with Barbara Bibik (Latin teacher, also Assistant Professor at Nicolaus Copernicus University) and Bartłomiej Nowodworski I High School in Cracow with Janusz Ryba (Latin teacher, also Assistant Professor at the Jagiellonian University).
This time, the schools’ task consisted in entering into the role of Publius Cornelius Nepos to present important figures from Polish history who were well versed in the Classics and who might inspire young people also today, even though they were not in the official school curriculum. The students guided by their teachers prepared a biographical collection De viris mulieribusque illustribus. For there was a women, mulier, as well: next to Jan Zamoyski, Stanisław Kostka Potocki, and Zdzisław Lubomirski – the audacious secret agent Krystyna Skarbek who possibly had inspired Ian Fleming in his James Bond cycle. We invited the participants in the schools’ venture to Warsaw, where they presented their work during a panel in a very special place – on the real stage of the Polish Theatre. They also took part in a few conference panels and workshops run by the team members.
The research by the high-schoolers resulted also in a publication, in Open Access, available here.
For the reflections and comments of the teachers and students see the reportage from the event:
For more about the conference see here.
12–14 December 2019 – Second Ciceronian Congress in Poland
The Faculty of “Artes Liberales” UW, together with the International Society of Cicero’s Friends (SIAC), organized the Second Ciceronian Congress in Poland, Cicero, Society, and the Idea of Artes Liberales, in the 30th anniversary of the congress Cicerone e la Società, organized by Prof. Jerzy Axer in the poignant year 1989. Among the participants there were scholars from Austria, Belarus, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Sounth Korea, the UK, and the USA.
On the first day of the Congress, Prof. Katarzyna Marciniak, who was a member of the Organizing Committee, with Prof. Jerzy Axer and Prof. Ermanno Malapsina (SIAC), gave a lecture on Cicero in youth culture and presented the OMC Project in the German Historical Institute in Warsaw, in the cycle of the German-Polish Scientific Meetings on the invitation of the German Embassy, DAAD, and the Societas Humboldtiana Polonorum, and we continued our collaboration with schools. As a result, on the second day of the Congress, two students: Alicja Dynowska from “Strumienie” High School (Józefów), tutored by Barbara Strycharczyk, and Albert Groszyk from XI Mikołaj Rej High School (Warsaw), tutored by Anna Wojciechowska, presented their meetings with Cicero and talked to the Congress’ participants about the role of the Orator in the education and life of the young people today.
Alicja Dynowska’s presentation can be watched here (Albert Groszyk’s lecture will be uploaded soon):
For more about the Congress see here.
The third stage of the Project is dedicated to the studies into the environmental issues, biological diversity, the concept of the Otherness in the context of Coming-of-Age and the peer acceptance, bodily problems, disabilities, etc. As the most recent events worldwide show, exactly these themes are particularly important to the youngest generation who is taking a more and more active part in social life, by voicing their opinions on such problems as climate crisis and ecology. Hence our invitation to the high-schoolers to express their worldviews also by means of short movies in the competition Antiquity–Camera–Action! in its Ecology edition. We are also pleased to continue our collaboration with schools. This year one more high school has taken the challenge and along with the schools from Józefów, Warsaw, Toruń, and Cracow, known from the previous Project’s stages, we welcome IV Tadeusz Kotarbiński High School from Gorzów Wielkopolski. Thus, at the moment alltogether 88 students and 10 teachers are researching into the theme of Nature in the context of the reception of Classical Antiquity. Their results will be presented and discussed during the Our Mythical Nature conference online in October 2020 at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” UW. All is welcome!
The motto of the XI Mikołaj Rej High School is based on Statius’ Thebaid: Macte animo – “Have courage!”. We do our best to apply it the Our Mythical Childhood Project, by working together with the teachers and the students who exactly now are in the process of building their identities for their adult life. We show them the heritage of Classical Antiquity and we ask them to engage with it. And indeed, they respond with courage – they study it, put it into question, trust it, and thus they make it alive and still valid to build on this universal heritage the foundations a space where we can all meet and engage in a dialogue beyond the borders of times, nations, and generations. We wish you to experience similar joy in the field of citizen science. Macte animo!
The materials on this website can also be found in the conferences’ and workshops’ booklets.