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Writers Matter: Empowering students through writing

Nyhet: 2017-06-15

About 200 students in grades 7 to 9 from Bergsjöskolan and Sjumilaskolan have participated in the Writers Matter writing programme in 2016/17 school year. Students were requested to write about five topics: who am I, family matters, living life, teens’ challenges and future dreams, aspirations and fears. Students were encouraged to write more than once about the same topic as there is no end to writings. In addition, students were encouraged to write in their own style as there is no one way to start writing.

Students have had the opportunity to share their writings with their classmates and their teachers. This is of course not an easy experience for them. As some are shy, others are afraid of the reactions of their classmates and some writings are too personal. Very few of them shared their writings with their parents or sibling for different reasons. But, those who were able to share their writings felt relaxed as their classmates got to know them much better, respect them and could relate to their stories. Students were able to discover their similarities at the same time as they saw and recognized their differences. They became much more respectful of each other and the writing created commonalities among them. They started to sympathize and feel for each other more.

As one teacher said students’ relationships improved, I noticed a growing respect and understanding among them`. Another teacher said ` my students [are] mainly from refugee backgrounds with different cultures and traditions, but the writings helped them overcome their differences and become respectful of each other. Another teacher said ` I came to know my students much better now…became sensitive to their needs… I can help them now better`.

For the ideas behind the Segerstedt Institute of promoting collaboration across social boundaries, this is one of key elements for sustainable success. Thus creating bridges between people is crucial.

One student said ` through writing I discovered who I am and my history. Another student said `` Writing used to be difficult for me… but now I can write faster and easier`. Yet another student said` Listening to others reading their writing help me understand my self…we are much the same….`.
Torgny Segerstedt emphasized the importance of empowering others to be able to be active citizens and this is what the Writers Matter programme intends to achieve. At the end of the activity, teachers and students got special certificates for their participation in the programme. They are now part of an international group of writers.

The Writers Matter programme is an international programme that started in 2005 in Philadelphia schools in the USA. In 2011 it was introduced to a few Palestinian and Israeli schools, to an Indian school before it was introduced to two Swedish schools during this year. Now, about 25000 students have participated in this programme from these countries. The overall aims of the programme are to help teen students (aged 12 to 16 years) write about themselves, bring their inside-out, express their opinions, build their self-confidence, and trust and understand who they are much better. Writing in this program is seen as a means (not an end) and as a process to empower student teens to be tolerant, open minded and respectful of human rights and values.
 

AV: Prof. Sami Adwan, Program coordinator, Chair, Segerstedt Institute/Gothenburg University (2016/17)

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