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Culture United

Preparing young people for a rapidly changing society.

An open mindset. Cooperation.

Learning from one another.

The City of Edinburgh Council is delighted to be part of the ‘Culture United’ initiative, a European ERASMUS+ funding project, that uses unique cultural events to deliver art education programmes in schools and create partnerships across Europe.

Through funding of Unique Events’ Burns&Beyond festival, the Council has formed partnerships and new friendships with arts and education organisations from Leeuwarden (Netherlands), Oulu (Finland) and Dundalk (Ireland), creating projects to embed multi-disciplinary ways of teaching in primary schools. The context behind the project initiative is to appeal to the interests and natural enthusiasm of children and to use this effectively in an interactive and engaging way to learn and be inspired.

The Culture United Approach

Multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary learning is a ‘whole’ or ‘comprehensive’ method that covers an idea, topic or text, by integrating multiple knowledge domains. It is a very powerful method of teaching that crosses the boundaries of a discipline or curriculum in order to enhance the scope and depth of learning.

How does this relate to the project? Synergy is the primary force behind multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary learning. Imagine being able to teach character development, basic math, and basic science concepts via a classic text. How about basic geography, writing skills, and point of view from the same materials?

Is it possible to also teach about comprehension, sequence, literal vs. non-literal, imagination, plot, theme, compare and contrast, opinion pieces, vocabulary, friendship, bullying, and critical thinking? The answer is yes, and the genre is legends, myths, and fables, all found in regional culture and heritage. This is best experienced by having pupils and their teachers take part in exciting interactive cultural events, and by working inspired by these events and themes in a multidisciplinary way at school in the weeks/months before and after partaking in the event.

Burns & Beyond and Culture United

In January 2020, Burns&Beyond and the City of Edinburgh Council created a school engagement programme with Culture United, which allowed us to work directly with four Edinburgh primary schools and artists from the festival, to deliver workshops on Robert Burns, Scotland’s cultural heritage, creativity and performance.

Over 120 Edinburgh primary school pupils participated in the workshops and a special Burns Supper event was held at the famous Assembly Rooms for pupils from:

•    Abbeyhill Primary School
•    Corstorphine Primary School
•    Flora Stevenson Primary School 
•    St Joseph’s RC Primary School

Pupils engaged directly with professional artists to celebrate Robert Burns and Scottish culture in five areas of creative workshops:
•    Music/Song-writing Workshop with Rachel Sermanni
•    Burns Poetry/Storytelling Workshops with Macastory
•    Ceilidh Dance Workshops with Dancebase
•    Textile Design/Tartan Workshop with Lochcarron of Scotland
•    Creative Writing with Janis Mackay

Each element of the workshops was incorporated into a Bairns’ Burns Supper event held for the pupils in the Assembly Rooms on Thurs 23 Jan 2020. The campaign was created to create learning opportunities for both pupils and teachers:

The range of workshops provided allowed pupils to engage with local history, culture and art through interdisciplinary learning, an inclusive approach ensuring that all learners are given a range of opportunities to engage.

It provided an opportunity for the pupils to: 

learn more about Scottish traditions, learn life skills, work in a team with the other classes and schools involved;

extend their skills across the curriculum from writing, reading, art, drama, music, dance, HWB, social skills in a large group;

experience a range of creative ways to engage with Robert Burns and Scotland’s Cultural Heritage.

For Teachers, Culture United provides professional development of school staff and an opportunity for pupils and teachers to connect with the local culture, while connecting with others, celebrating diversity, universality and individuality.

We share ambitions to inspire children and educate them on why cultural heritage is important and to make them feel part of it. The strength of the international cooperation project lies in the fact that concrete results are achieved locally and that knowledge and experience is shared at a European level. Unfortunately, due to covid restrictions, we shall be holding our 2nd Culture United school’s initiative later in 2021.

Burns&Beyond ‘Culture United’ is a partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council’s Events Team and the Arts & Creative Learning Team, and Unique Events, funded via Erasmus+