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Schoolkids write their history in time of crisis

07:44 02/04/2020
From Flanders Today

Children's experiences of the coronavirus crisis are being collected and published in a project launched by KU Leuven university. The idea is to provide kids with a creative outlet and also to help them write their own history as events unfold.

Primary and secondary school students have been asked to answer one or more questions from a list of five dealing with happiness, education, reading, life and unforgettable moments. They can respond with a long or a short text, with a story, a drawing, a photo or a film clip.

The results De 5 Vragen (The Five Questions) can be posted on a blog dedicated to the project, or shared in the more limited circle of a school, family or friends. “Now that the schools are closed, our arts faculty wanted to see how we could offer school students meaningful reading and writing exercises,” explained Kris Van Den Branden, who initiated the project.

The initial reactions of teachers and students, he said, “have been very positive. The young people are not only stimulated by the questions we’ve given them, but they also appreciate the open nature of the initiative.”

The importance of family and community comes through strongly in the responses published so far. And while the tone is generally up-beat, some more turbulent feelings have also been expressed.

One 10-year-old, for instance, worries that she may already have the virus and be responsible for infecting her whole family. Another pupil explains that she is happy, even if she doesn’t show it. “I have some bad moments, but I am not unhappy.”

Unsurprisingly, the experience of online education is a recurring subject. Some children report struggling with the new approach and say they now appreciate going to school.

Others seem to prefer to be online. “I’ve learned that going to school is a bit pointless,” one 13-year-old writes.

The City Archive in Ghent, meanwhile, has also called for people to share their experiences of living with the coronavirus, so that they can be recorded for future generations. “Send us your personal stories, impressions, poems, songs, photos, and videos. Send us your blogs, vlogs and diaries, your drawings and your artworks. In 100 years’ time, the Archive wants to be able to give a picture of how we experienced and survived this crisis in Ghent.”

Drawing ©Laurens Verschueren/De5Vragen

Written by Ian Mundell (Flanders Today)