Mythology and Education at the University of Cambridge

On 18th February 2020 the international conference Mythology and Education: Theory and Practice took place at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. The event was organized by Prof. Susan Deacy (Roehampton), Dr. Frances Foster (Cambridge), and Dr. Sonya Nevin (Roehampton/Panoply Vase Animation Project).

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Sonya Nevin and Susan Deacy presenting the conference poster.

The aim of the conference was to explore the role of the Classical Mythology in teaching and popularization. The event was a follow up to the first meeting in the series – Mythology and Education: Theory and Practice, held in Cambridge in 2017.

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Poster of the 2017 event (designed by Sonya Nevin).

The 2020 conference was organized in collaboration with the Our Mythical Childhood Project and the Cluster: The Past for the Present, established at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw, as a research and educational centre by humanistic faculties of the Universities of Bologna, Cambridge, Munich, and Warsaw.

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Poster of the 2020 event (designed by Sonya Nevin).

The collaboration with teachers and students at various stages of education is one of the most vital elements of the Our Mythical Childhood Programme, established by Prof. Katarzyna Marciniak in 2011. We visit schools and held classes there, and we organize together with the teachers, scholars, and students Our Mythical Ventures.

The coordinator of the school collaboration is Barbara Strycharczyk (Latin and the Ancient Culture teacher at the “Strumienie” High School in Józefów, previously at XI Mikołaj Rej High School in Warsaw). Together with Hazel Pearson (English Language, “Strumienie”) they presented the results of our collaboration at the Mythology and Education conference.

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Barbara Strycharczyk and Hazel Pearson.

The teachers held a lecture on “Mythology as a Source of Creative Inspiration and an Element of Interdisciplinarity”:

In our presentation we show how to find the best way of reading and explaining mythology. Building on our experiences teaching in schools in Poland, we show how mythology could be a key to read the reality that surrounds us and to opening hidden meanings in culture, especially in literature.

They presented the interdisciplinary projects that high-school students have been involved in since 2012 in collaboration with the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” UW as part of the Our Mythical Childhood Programme, supported by the Artes Liberales Institute” Foundation, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation (2012–2013), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2014–2017), and currently by the ERC Consolidator Grant (2016–2021).

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Hazel Pearson.

The projects include writing and illustrating a story and news items based on myths, a comparison of mythical figures in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia with those in Greek mythology and creating an emblem (Chasing Mythical Beasts), the use of Greek gods and heroes in advertising (Our Mythical Hope), and the current project: the exploration of the mysterious world of nature with reference to mythology (Our Mythical Nature).

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Hazel Pearson.

The teachers explained the interdisciplinary nature of the projects, with Polish, Maths, Science, IT, Art and Language teachers being involved. They discussed the benefits of taking part, such as understanding references to mythology in cultural texts, seeing the relevance of mythology in modern life, and broadening their language skills by writing, translating and presenting the projects in English.

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Barbara Strycharczyk and Hazel Pearson’s presentation.

The teachers left the workshop inspired by the breadth of ideas for using the Classics in the curriculum, the passion and creativity of the teachers and the wealth of evidence for the value and continued relevance of teaching the Classics at all ages.

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Logo of the 2020 stage of the ERC Project (designed by Zbigniew Karaszewski).

We wish to thank warmly the wonderful Organizers and the amazing Public and all the Participants in the event!

For more see:

Post prepared by Katarzyna Marciniak, Hazel Pearson and Barbara Strycharczyk

Pictures from Dr. Sonya Nevin and Twitter

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