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Experimenting the PITCHER educational approach in Roma and Paris!

In April and May 2023 in the framework of PITCHER, Michael Culture Association and the Italian school IC Visconti in cooperation with the association GoTellGo organised with teachers pedagogical walking tours with their classrooms in Roma aiming to test educational approaches about looting and trafficking of cultural goods.

In April 2023, IC Visconti organised a first walk-shop in Roma, Italy.17 pupils of the primary school (7 years old) explored the city center learning stories about stolen and not always retrieved work of arts. The keywords were: illicit trafficking, illicit market, stolen works of art, cultural heritage, common goods, war booties, “tombaroli”, art collectors etc.

The pupils reflected on these topics in front of an obelisk (booty of old Romans in Egypt), the Turtles' Fountain (Bernini's turtles stolen and then retrieved), the Jewish Synagogue (old books and manuscripts stolen during the Second World War), archaeological objects near the Marcellus' Theatre and the incredible theft of the "holy baby" in the Church of Aracoeli, robbed in the Nineties of last century and never retrieved, but replaced by a copy.

At the end of the walkshops, the classroom launched the campaign: Pitchergirls, Pitcherboys: we save art. The walkshop was carried out by the teacher Maria Gabriella Scuderi (IC Visconti) and Maria Teresa Natale (MCA).

In May 2023,Michael Culture in cooperation with Associazione Culturale GoTellGo and IC Visconti, organised another Pitcher "walkshop" in Rome with a classroom of 26 students 12-13 years old. The 3 hours event began with a walking tour with six stops: the Trajan's Column where the discussion was on the spoils of war during the Napoleonic campaigns, the Church of San Marco in Venice Square where a precious processional cross with a relic was stolen by unknown persons and found after twenty years by the Carabinieri unit, the Fountain of the Turtles, whose 4 turtles were stolen and found several times, which is why copies are now present on the fountain and the originals preserved in the Capitoline Museum. Then the classroom stopped in the old Jewish Ghetto, in front of the synagogue, where precious manuscripts, documents and books were stolen during the Nazi occupation in 1943. An area full of archaeological remains was the occasion to discuss with the students about thefts of archaeological objects, including underwater findings, analysing in detail laws and citizen's behaviour. The walk ended in the Aracoeli Church, where a very famous statue of the Child (Pupone) was stolen and never found any more: today only a copy is present in the holy chapel.

At the end of the walking tour the classroom stopped in a nice square for a practical workshop: the students were divided in 4 groups, each of them received some cards with destructured stories of famous theft of cultural heritage artefacts. They had to recompose the stories, choose one of them, and report it to the rest of the classroom.

The students were very much interested in the topic and at the beginning of next school year they will continue these activities by doing some interviews in the institutions which suffered the theft of cultural heritage objects.

In April, Michael Culture and the French National Police Academy (CRENSP) organised a 2-hour workshop at the Lycée Fénelon in Paris with final-year students (17–18 years old) enrolled in the geopolitical history focus. This session was prepared with the teacher of this focus.

The aim was to present the key issues and stakeholders involved in the fight against the looting and trafficking of cultural goods, as well as the 'Guilty Treasures' game designed in the framework of PITCHER, so that they could try it out and give feedback. The aim was also to identify the teacher's needs in terms of resources and teaching formats.

This session was relevant because it was part of the Heritage theme, which is now part of the curriculum for this option in France. It was therefore interesting to see how PITCHER could contribute to this theme. The students had already had lessons on heritage, its preservation and protection, and on the key players involved and the role of the EU, as part of the programme.

In the run-up to the PITCHER session, it was decided with the teacher to provide a video produced as part of the NETCHER project, which presented the issues at stake. ENSP then gave a presentation on the role of the EU and European and international initiatives, followed by a series of discussions with the students.

Finally, they were given 2 copies of the 'Guilty Treasures' game to try out. The test was carried out in class in June, and the feedback was very positive. Suggestions were also made for improvements to the game, which will be taken into account in a future version.

The professors expressed her great appreciation of this workshop and her expectation for another workshop next year.


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