The Ancient Future Dreamed in the Classroom

ICH School Education Cooperation Project © ICHCAP

Whenever May comes every year, flurries of cherry blossoms fall down and colorful lanterns for Buddha’s birthday embroider the streets. Regardless of religion, nationality, race and age, lanterns shine equally on everybody. Someone put their wishes for families on lanterns and others pray for the peace of human beings.

We have our own life styles called ‘culture’, showing the identity of each. We call it ‘Intangible cultural heritage’. It is deeply rooted in our everyday life, however, because of which we sometimes live with forgetting its values. So, UNESCO established the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003 to safeguard such intangible values. In particular, the Convention stresses that the State Parties shall endeavor to safeguard intangible cultural heritage through the formal and non-formal education.

International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (hereafter, the Centre) has implemented a variety of education programmes so as to make it possible to transmit the values of intangible cultural heritage to the future generations.

In particular, through the ‘Teaching with Intangible Cultural Heritage in Schools’ having been carried out since 2019, the Centre has examined how intangible heritage has been dealt in the education field as follows: to analyze the curriculum in primary and secondary schools in the Republic of Korea, and to conduct the preliminary researches on the intangible cultural heritage contents-utilized education in 700 primary and secondary schools in the Asia-Pacific Region, jointly with UNESCO Bangkok Office.

As a result, it was recognized that the paradigm shift in ICH education was needed in order to convey the values of intangible cultural heritage to the future generations and to create a sustainable environment for its transmission. On the basis of such a recognition, the Centre is making a new attempt for teaching with ICH beyond the teaching about ICH.

In 2020, we have developed teacher’s resource kit for integrating ICH in school curriculum and held a training of trainers workshops for teacher training. In addition, this year, we are about to implement the pilot classes to apply the methodology for teaching with ICH in school curriculum.

About 20 schools in 6 countries (Cambodia, Nepal, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Republic of Korea) in the Asia-Pacific Region are taking part in these pilot classes.

In Republic of Korea, the Centre made MOU with Geunyoung middle school in Jeonju, Osan middle school in Seoul, Wolgok elementary school in Gwangju and Shingal elementary school in Yongin, and the schools are conducting the Teaching with ICH in School Project. Open classes are scheduled once for each school in the early of June.

Especially, these pilot classes focus on three pillars, namely, ‘curriculum, intangible heritage and Global Citizenship Education’. Each school teacher has developed their own teaching-learning plan to promote GCED through teaching school subject with ICH.

For instances, students can learn sharing and community culture through Kimchi Making and Shring. And some students can learn critical thinking on the society and human rights through Namsadang Nori. They also can learn about colors and shapes through making lanterns in an art class. Furthermore, while writing their wishes on the lanterns they made, they can pray the happiness of their families, and dream the peace and prosperity for the neighbors and human beings. In addition, students also can learn about the Mask dance to criticize the society and have opportunities to make masks suitable for them and to write critical plays sripts on school issues or themselves.

Intangible cultural heritage is Living Heritage, not just staying in what it was. Every living thing changes. Living intangible heritage is also bound to be changed in the community context according to the times.

Looking at the change from a culture to pray for wishes seeing lanterns in the ancient Silla Kingdom into the festive procession through streets with holding various shapes of lanterns at present, it can be found that intangible heritage reflects the demands of the times in its forms of practice.

We can find the values of intangible heritage in our lives and communities and only if we safeguard and transmit them, our society can become diverse and sustainable. Education is the strongest tool for changing the world and students are the driving force to lead the future. Unless the values of intangible cultural heritage are passed down to the future generations, the diversity and sustainability of our society would be destined to be shrunken. That’s why we should use intangible cultural heritage in educating students. The Centre is planning to continually implement the projects for the ICH-integrated education in various ways so as to allow as many students as possible to experience intangible cultural heritage in the classrooms.

Meanwhile, based on the contents of Teaching with ICH in Schools project, the Centre is producing the online educational contents and plans to provide the contents to the teachers with applicable educational guidelines.