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Conference: The Art of Life Long Learning

The Art of Life Long Learning

Creative Artistic Activities as Didactic Support in Adult Education

International Conference

110th - 11th September 2010,  Alanus Werkhaus, Alfter bei Bonn Germany

How can artistic activities support learning processes and promote competence building in adult education? This question was the focus of an international two days conference held in Alanus Werkhaus near Bonn Germany in September. Around 50 participants from different European countries - researcher and practitioner of adult education, artists, representatives of political institutions and societal associations - discussed and experienced the potential of artistic activities as didactic support in thematic adult education workshops, dealing with non-artistic issues. The conference summed up a two years learning- and development process of six European partners from Germany, Austria, Italy, Northern Ireland and Lithuania in the context of a Grundtvig Project called “Identity and Difference: Creative Artistic Exercises as Didactic Support in Adult Education (ARTID)”. In this project, co-funded by the European Commission in the context of the Life-Long-Learning Program, the partners examined different possibilities to apply art in workshops dealing with different aspects of a common thematic frame of Identity and difference. The results of this development process got presented and discussed in the context of this conference.

The conference started, after a short presentation of the ARTID Project, with a lecture by Prof. Dr. Michael Brater (GAB München), focussing on art as a medium for dealing with the challenges of life long learning. Prof. Brater pointed out that, on the societal background of individualisation and globalisation, artistic activities have become the paradigm of contemporary social activity. Because of that, wherever adults have to learn to actively deal with biographical, social or cultural challenges, artistic activities can be a crucial methodological enrichment.

On basis of this Thesis, the different project partner gave the possibilities to the participants, to practically experience different artistic approaches to different topics of artistic education. The Alytus Music School from Alytus Lithuania demonstrated how traditional music and dances can socially integrate people from various backgrounds and with different abilities. The Association for Waldorf Pedagogic (EUROB) from Bozen Italy offered the possibility, to experience the promotion of awareness and mutual understanding by creating a common piece of art. The Playhouse form Derry/ Londonderry in Northern Ireland presented their approach of empowerment and development of disadvantaged young people by artistic means and activities. And finally the Academy for Anthroposophic Adult Education form Vienna, Austria showed how acting exercises can be a medium to investigate and understand the challenges of adult education.

The first day of the conference was summed up by the presentation of the “Theatre of Witness”-Project, applied by The Playhouse, in which ex-combatants from the catholic and unionist side were brought together to develop and present a theatre play dealing with their personal stories.

The second day of the conference started with a presentation of the results of the evaluation of the ARTID-Project. The evaluation applied by GAB München indicates that artistic activities are not only a mean to promote the possibility for expression beyond language, but also they promote and train the perception and awareness of adults. Further more they open up spaces for experience and experimentation, in which adults can deal with the emotional aspects of thematic issues and try out new ways of behaviour in a secured space.

After the Input, the participants got the possibility to discuss their point of views and experiences in working groups, focussing on the question, which new questions arise on the background of the experiences of the last two days. The working groups discussed mainly questions of competencies (which skills do facilitators need to apply artistic activities in adult education?) of methodology (how to guide participants trough an artistic process?) and of practicability (Which art on which issue?) and presented their questions to the plenary.
The conference ended with the initiation of a network on artistic exercises in adult education.

Animated by another artistic exercise, dealing with the creation of a common mosaic and applied by the Alanus Werkhaus Alfter Germany, the partners discussed possibilities of further cooperation and research on the issue of artistic exercises in adult education.

Invitation and program


Documentation of the Conference