School exercise books intertwine personal childhood memories and collective history, offering an unprecedented way to explore history, especially related to children.
Furthermore, their contents can be used to engage people in historical storytelling and promote social empathy.
We have have already developed pilot activities for intergenerational and intercultural exchange to engage audiences of different ages, ranging from seniors to adults to children, and with different levels of specialization (teachers, students, researchers, the general public).
We are looking for cultural and civil society organisations that are willing to develop with us ad hoc projects in their communities.
We can co-design site-specific processes where the exercise books, collected from local communities, are used in combination with cultural activities (readings, workshops, exhibitions). We have designed the activities to be adapted to local needs and different audiences.
Here are some examples of what we have already done:
The Exercise Book Readings are live performances in which a group of people, or sometimes the actors of a theater company, read a selection of compositions and dictations from the exercise books of the Archive. The readings can be fun, sad, very dramatic, or a mixture of all three, depending on the contents chosen. Usually, people in the audience can participate by reading the texts found in their own old exercise books.
• WORKSHOPS FOR STUDENTS (AGES 8–12)
What would happen if today’s pupils could get in touch with their peers from the past?
In our workshops we introduce the participants (pupils ages 8 to 12) to a few texts written by “former pupils” in their exercise books to teach them about kids’ lives in past decades. On some special occasions, we give them the opportunity to meet the authors of the texts in person. We have already led the workshops in Italy in collaboration with La Grande Fabbrica delle Parole, a creative writing centre for kids based in Milan, and we are excited about the possibility of replicating the format in other parts of the world.