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Puppets, Broadcasts and Stress

I took a walk across town yesterday, south to Kreuzberg. My friend Michael Schoenke had invited me over to watch the European Championship match between Germany and Portugal. The game didn’t start until 8.45pm so apart from that kick-off time I was free of a niggling deadline for what felt like the first time this year.

The pressurised state of affairs, prior to yesterday had been mounting since September 2011, when along with Katharine Eastman, Brigitte Schiller and Helen Schumann I had begun work on the PuppCast Project in the Schilling Schule Neukolln. It is impossible to give a quick summary of what this project was and why it became so stressful for everyone working on it, so I will simply say that the pressure came from setting ourselves the task of making a weekly broadcast with a different class from the school and trying to sustain this throughout the year.

On Friday we presented a 2 hour programme of the filmed broadcasts to the pupils, teachers and a representative from the Berlin Senate. With that, our work was finally done.

What follows is the introduction.

Hanno straightened up. He rubbed one hand over the piano’s polished surface, gave a shy look at the company, and somewhat emboldened by the Grandmamma and Aunt Tony, brought out, in a low, almost a hard voice: “ The Shepherd’s Sunday Hymn by Uhland.”

“Oh, my dear child, not like that,” called out the Senator. “Don’t stick there by the piano and cross your hands on your tummy like that! Stand up! Speak out! That’s the first thing. Here, stand here between the curtains. Now, hold your head up – let your arms hang down quietly at your sides.”………

……………………………………………… “ This is the day of our- “ he (Hanno) began very low. His father’s voice sounded loud by contrast when he interrupted: “One begins with a bow, my son. And then much louder. Begin again, please : Shepherd’s Sunday Hymn,” encouragingly, remorselessly.

But it was all up with Hanno……………..”I stand alone on the vacant plain,” he said but could get no further.

In this short extract from Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks we find a perfect example of what the PuppCast project is not.

The aim of the Puppcast project was to put learning at its core and this was possible through the wide range of different media used. We could only find out through doing what worked and what didn’t. Unlike Thomas Buddenbrooks chiding his son, the PuppCast project could only learn through collaboration and cooperation between everyone involved. We had no prescriptive answers and could only reach a broadcast with both each class and each pupil by a week or two of intense, challenging yet enjoyable work together.

So at the conclusion of the Project we wish to thank the Schilling Schule Leaders and …..

………. But most of all the pupils and especially those who were ready to grasp this opportunity and who now through their trust and openness are allowing others to share their unique view on the world.

Link: http://www.schillingschule.de/index.php/allgemein/puppcast


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