The Colours of Life

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The colours of life”, the 4th issue of the “Oltre la Ronda” series edited by Regina Coeli Jail in Rome, has just came out. In this issue the result of a creative writing course on PC lab which took place in Regina Coeli and that I hold on behalf of my school Institution, CPIA 3 – Rome (3rd Adult Learning District Center in Rome).

Aims  of the course were:

  1. helping inmates to bring out their richness, their stories, their feelings;
  2. making  them feel proud;
  3. increasing their self-esteem;
  4. contributing to the intercultural dialogue.

At the same time, we did not forget some of the Key Competences such as Communication in both  mother tongue and in a foreign language, digital competences, learning to learn, civic and social competences. Working on those competences has increased inmates’ capacity of putting themselves out there by running the risk of finding themselves involved in new learning situations.

First of all, my objective was that of making them feel and act as a group. In order to get there, a lot of ice-breaking and team building exercises were proposed during the whole course. This made them work in a friendly and supportive environment. Secondly, inmates were engaged in self evaluation activities, reflecting on their knowledge and the way they learn, becoming aware of their formal, non formal and informal competences.

Then, they were proposed to play language games such as looking for their own pseudonym, writing anagrams, acrostics and tautogram poems. Another activity which contributed to make them more fluent in the oral and written use of Italian language, was writing short stories using as many idioms as possible. All the above exercises were organized in small groups where every single member worked collaboratively, supporting each other, having a lot of fun, giving his best contribution to the final result.

Writing our own stories is hard, especially if during our lives we were never given the chance to do it. In order to avoid the blank page panic, we brainstormed about which were the ingredients of storytelling and, after that, we read together plenty of stories in order to identify those ingredients.  Brainstorm had a key role along the whole course: monitored discussions at the beginning or at the end of a lesson, offered inmates real situations to acquire the capacity of active listening, paying attention, public speaking, taking turns, memorising, organising their own speech, taking notes and summarise.

They all wrote something of themselves, they all “gave” something of themselves and, supported by the group’s encouragement and trust, they asked to share their writings and read them aloud, even when it was very intimate stories.

I thank all my students for having given us all a little bit of themselves because each of the stories and poems that have been written during the course brings with it the richness of the process just described. An itinerary marked by a sort of “snail pedagogy”, respectful of the inner times, the individualities, the talents of all, none excluded.