From Slovenia:
Reflections On the Lund Conference

By Sonja Ruta *

It is a little bit difficult to talk about the WACRAŽ conference this year in a few sentences. First of all, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to be with you. It was a great experience to be with people from different educational fields, from different countries and still with similar problems in practice (if we talk about the methodical point of view).

I work at the Educational Research Center for Pedagogical Initiatives and the Step by Step program. The Research Center is at the Pedagogical Research Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia. At this time Slovenia (where I come from) is in a process of educational reform. Seven years ago, a child development project called Step by Step came to Slovenia. This project made a great contribution to educational reform: on the level of understanding and knowing why are changes of education important today and how to make those changes; on the level of understanding and implementing child appropriate practice; and on the level of understanding the rule and importance of democratization of community in the whole society. The program was completely supported by the Open Society Institute, Soros foundation New York. 

We began implementing the Step by Step education reform in 1996 in kindergartens, and then at the first and second grade levels. Today we work with primary and secondary schools. Our mission is to educate, help and assist teachers by applying educational theory to practice. Our aim is to recognize and respect differences among children and to provide a chance for every child, including children with special needs, children who are refugees, or Roma children, to get an optimal education.

When I attended the WACRAŽ conference, I learned about a new approach to using cases when I heard the lecture of Professor Jim Erskine. First, I was confused, and then I discovered ways to use case study for purposes of self-reflection and self-evaluation of teachers. Presentations from business educators were very interesting to me, even though I didn't understand everything (I am much better in Slovene than in English)! However, I found people who had very similar interests as I have.

The end of the conference was also very meaningful for me. Dr. Hans Klein asked the participants what they would like to have at the next WACRAŽ conference. Many different kinds of topics and suggestions were offered - enough for a twenty-day long conference!

I was amazed by the organization of the conference, by the hospitality of the people from Lund University, the beauty of the Scandinavian countries, and by the efforts of the conference organizers who "thought about everything," who did the work without acknowledging it, and who tried to include all participants in the process and inspire them. This is the way that I perceive Hans Klein, Amelia Klein, Joan Moyer, and many other people whose names I do not know, but I will always remember them.

It was a great honor to be with so many interesting people. I hope that from this conference will grow many working relationships with the people I met. Thank you again, and I wish to all of you all the best.

* Sonja Ruta is Master Teacher at the Educational Research Center
 for Pedagogical Initiatives in Ljubljana, Slovenia.