In Slovenia there is an organisation that considers education a basic lever for a sustainable future and harmonious humanity.
by Francesca Giglio
In addition to teaching, at the Ray of Sun kindergarten we help children develop team spirit, build healthy interpersonal relationships, and deal with problems by looking at them from different angles.
Founded in 2003 in Škofja Loka, near Ljubljana, after 3 other institutes designed in the same style in the Balkan area, Ray of the Sun is a nursery school and kindergarten pioneering in an innovative and effective educational model. Its pedagogy draws on the ideal of unity by Chiara Lubich and develops a concrete application of the thought of the founder of the Economy of Communion on education, related to the primacy of the relational dimension.
The kindergarten was born, in fact, as a response to some contemporary needs, with the aim of training new men and women, future protagonists who are conscious and active, of this world and against a prevailing and dangerous individualism. Working with children aged 11 months to 6 years, a strategic time to build a balanced identity and perceive the world as an ecosystem of nature and relationships to protect with positive behaviour, it aims to develop the person or rather "man-of-the-world", starting from a fundamental need: being recognized as unique, unrepeatable and a gift for humanity.
One of the educators is Andreja Snoy, mother of 3 children, who contributed a PhD in Pedagogy and Culture of Unity to her training in dentistry at Sophia University Institute in Loppiano. Talking to her we can see that the daily commitment revolves around a basic rule: educate yourself to be able to educate the other person. On behalf of the management and the entire team, Andreja tells us that, despite political, financial and value crises hindering its work, over time the institute has grown and attracted more and more people, nurturing intense partnerships between students, family groups, operators and leaving a strong mark in the community: an emblematic case is when teenagers return to the kindergarten just to say hello, testifying, years later, to how special that imprinting of open-mindedness and "being relational” really is.
This year the school is celebrating 15 years of activity and has grown from having about forty children at the beginning to 6 groups with 110 little ones enrolled, involving and accompanying about 80 families in their educational journey. In fact, a game of dialogue has been established not only with the children, but also with and between the families. It is based on 11 macro themes, listed in pdf Appendice A* (1.32 MB) , ranging from civic to ecological education, from overcoming limits to a critical attitude to media messages etc. The 25 members of the team, 6 of whom are educators, has a fundamental male presence, and is composed of young people from diverse backgrounds and specialized in art, biology, communication, etc. ... but all devoted to the formation of the human being, and this ensures a high professional level and interdisciplinary connections.
Although it is a private institution, with small contributions from the State, it focuses its attention on families with particular needs and the work carried out is increasingly recognized by various state structures, and by Catholic and secular institutions: the model of this pilot project is being replicated in the region and there is a future desire to start a primary school that would adopt the same objectives and modus operandi. There are also many networks with other local and international organisations, such as Education for Unity, New Humanity, Associazione Famiglie Nuove (New Families Association), NetOne and Sportmeet. Luigino Bruni visited the school on 19 March this year and he also met with the children - it has strengthened the connection with the entire EoC world, reviving the admiration and support of many to the approach of the work that had been started.
At a time of crisis in the traditional educational system symptomized by bullying, social malaise and a lack of recognition of authority by the new generations, this precious sowing is exemplary: here the vital energy of the little ones is wisely channelled to be transformed into a sense of responsibility and empathy. The perception of oneself and one's horizons can be broadened and the young ones can become agents of positive change in their home country and for the whole world. For a tolerant, inclusive and plural world.
We don’t think it is by chance that Škofja Loka is hosting the International Seminar of Pedagogy entitled "Pedagogy in Dialogue" on 15-17 June 2018, with different educational experiences, young people, undergraduates and PhD students who will present their research work: after an ‘obligatory’ stop at the kindergarten, the meeting will continue with constructive discussions on the various pedagogical approaches and future perspectives.