Colegiul National "Moise Nicoara" Arad

A TRANSDISCIPLINARY “READING” OF THE WATER

Mirela Mureşan

Project coordinator

The “Different school week” didactic project designed for high school students had as a topic – The Water – in a special “reading”, namely a transdisciplinary one, that aimed to get an integrative vision on water and on its multiple meanings in human and planetary life.

The project targets focused both on experiencing a transdisciplinary teaching-learning methodology and on setting up a holistic integrative view of the knowledge of water, developing a positive, desirable attitude which should contribute to an education for the quality of human and planetary life. The project contents were conceived and structured in order to get a synthesizing view on many dimensions and significations of water, able to transcend the borders of the known disciplines; the main outcome was to help teachers from different disciplines to teach together, as a team. The interactive workshops alternated with explanations, power-point presentations, debates, topic-oriented visits, artistic creations and performances.

The contents of the project were structured in three topic-modules as follows:

1.      The Philosophy of water (sacred dimension)

–          Water in cosmogonical “scenarios”

–          Water in folklore rituals, in religious rituals

–          Symbols of the water: living water/dead water; holy water, healing water

–          Christening water and Flood water

–          Water wisdom: syntagms, proverbs, sayings

–          Water messages: crystallization experiments

2.        Water life (profane dimension)

–          Water as chemical substance; properties

–          Planet water: roles, functions, dangers, threats

–          Water crossing the human civilization evolution

–          Water and the human body; intra-uterine water

3.     Aquatic imaginary aspects ( artistic dimension)

–          Water images in literature, music, painting etc

Our activities took place in school and also at the Arad Water Tower thanks to the kindness of and collaboration with the history professor, Horia Truţă. The teachers team achieved the targets together with our high school students. This team was formed by: Diana Şimonca – folk literature, Cristina Crişan – chemistry, Tania Sabău – biology, Luminiţa Ciurel – drawing/painting, Mircea Hurdea – religion, Mirela Mureşan – literature. We also enjoyed the extraordinary participation of the music professor, Silvia Demian (“Sabin Dragoi” Art  College). There were 42 students from different grades (IX th-XII-th) who participated; there also was an extraordinary participant: the pupil Mădălina Boroneant from Miniş  who brought up-to-date the rain makers’ (paparude) ritual and song.

The three modules pointed out many and unexpected properties and meanings of water and generated a great deal of discussions and debates: teachers and students as well were challenged to answer many questions and problem-situations that came out from the new information issued during the presentations. The answers to the final questionnaire form, which was conceived as a feed-back, fully confirmed this aspect. Here are some problems students confessed they will  keep thinking about: the role of the water in the act of creation, the religious meanings of the water, the water in the human body, the subjective images of the water in artistic representation, the vital link between human being and the water, the spiritual force of the water, the significance of the Flood, the water magic power, water gives life but also kills, why does water have so many powers?, why does water react to feelings ?, is there water on other planets ?, how was water created?, why is man wasting so much water instead of appreciating it ?, Does water have feelings?, and so on. Moreover, a student has sincerely admitted: every time I will use tap water, from now on, I shall think twice in order not to waste the water that came in my house with such difficulty, thanks to so many centuries of civilization.

This interrogative-reflexive part – started in students mind – seems to be the major gain of the project. Thus, there was a privilege for all participants (teachers and students) to get and give information, to share their own opinions, beliefs, to confront ideas, due to this different school week.

Water was “read” by their mind, heart, sensorial attitude, into a valuable process of transdisciplinary knowledge. The visit to The Water Tower facilitated the real knowledge of the objects and instruments that were used during the centuries by the rural and urban civilization concerning the use of water; the creative workshops facilitated unexpected “meetings” between poetry, music and painting in the artistic imaginary frame of water; the presentations revealed the magic powers of the water in the folklore, mythology, the astonishing Bible significations of the water and its use in religious rituals; the scientific outlook on water brought forward for discussion its physical-chemical properties, its role in the human metabolism and in all living beings. Emotto’s experiments presentation was a great challenge too. Students could express their artistic vision on water – by words, colours and sounds – : they selected the proper music for the poetry text they were reading, they painted their own ”view” on water, starting from a blue drop, and transforming it in their soul’s colours, they wrote essays-answers to the final question of L. Blaga’s poetry “Song of the origin” ( What shall I be then ?, Shall I be a cloud? Shall I be sorrow?); They have imagined an ocean storm as in Turner’s paintings – using the fingers and palms only, to produce the sound of the rain drops and then the sound of the thunders; a valuable symphony was created and performed using “water glasses”. The series of unexpected experiences concerning the knowledge of water could go on indefinitely. I shall try to describe each module, one by one, in the next issue of our journal.

I intend to sum up the presentation of this project aiming at the water “reading” by quoting two participating students’ opinions as a conclusion.

                                                                           PAUL CRISAN, 10th grade

Our meetings during the program “A different school week” from project called “A trans-disciplinary understanding of water” started with a question. We had to ask a question about water; the answers came later, participating in the project. I was taken by surprise. Why a question about water? I thought that what I already knew about water was enough, simple and clear: well-defined chemical composition, colorless, tasteless, without smell, indispensable to life.

            I think the students raised over 30 different questions about water. And the answers came from chemistry, traditional customs, biology, history religion, literature, music and art. It has been an interesting journey, one that opened my mind and taught me to dig down deeper into a subject, before I draw any conclusions.

            We studied the dissolution of a substance in water by acting in a theater play. I was amazed finding out that the structure of crystallized water can change depending on our feelings. I understood that water is essential for life, but not from the usual classes. We expressed ourselves by painting and we discovered the symbols of water in old Romanian sayings, folk rituals, by listening to the holy teachings of religion or by admiring William Turner’s paintings.

            Do you have any idea what can result from a drop of water and a little bit of color? Snap your fingers, imitating raindrops, read a poem and listen to music. You will feel “different” for sure!

                                                                  STEFANIA DUMULESC, 10th grade

The different school week… I was waiting impatiently to see how it would take place and to my surprise, I was truly pleased by the activity I had chosen. “The transdisciplinary view upon water” project, or more simply put by us, students, “water”, was a perfect example for us to see Transdisciplinary in action. We learned about the purpose of water as a fundamental element of this world, and not only that: we studied the importance of water from a philosophical and artistic point of view, as well as a religious and a scientific one. We also familiarised ourselves with its utility in the history of human civilisation.

What grew on me the most were the debates we had in each session, sessions in which the teachers began a certain topic of interest and from that point on, everything derived to new perspectives, openings, thus leading up to even newer questions. The thought which stood by me constantly was the one to search deeper, to dig more thoroughly in the hope and with the purpose of knowing more. And it was these debates, in which took part both students and teachers, that had a major influence upon my understanding and fulfilment of my everyday life.

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