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  • Erna van der Werff

Burns and Beyond, Harry Potter and Highland games


(Left: Lorna McDonald, Right Evelyn Moore)


Lorna McDonald from Edinburgh City Council and Evelyn Moore, a teacher at Flora Stevenson Primary School, organized the Multiplier Event for CULTURE UNITED in Edinburgh! They invited teachers from primary schools in the region to share information and learning materials about the CULTURE UNITED project, which is coming to an end this month. They showed the learning materials and resources created during 3 years of CULTURE UNITED to the teachers and talked about their experiences and the experiences of their peer teachers from Oulu (Finland), Leeuwarden (The Netherlands) and Dundalk (Ireland). But more importantly, they asked the children of Evelyn’s class (P7) what they found of the project and how their experience was!


‘It was so much fun and exciting; I learned things I didn’t know before!’.


(Students and teachers of Flora Stevenson Primary School)


Apart from the Burns and Beyond event that was organized by the Edinburgh Partners (Unique Events, Edinburgh City Council, and 3 primary schools in Edinburgh) in year one, Evelyn organized two other events with her class. As Covid meant that Burns and Beyond could not happen during year 2 of CULTURE UNITED, she simply organized an event INSIDE her classroom with her pupils. The theme they produced was Harry Potter, as he might as well be just as famous and as Scottish as poet Robert Burns was. Edinburgh is the city where the writer of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling, wrote many of the Harry Potter books and she has lived in Edinburgh since 1993. Using Harry Potter as a theme, Evelyn told stories and created ‘mysteries’ in her class to get the children creative and curious. In the middle of a class, you would suddenly scream (because yes: Evelyn really screams when she gets enthusiastic!) "LOOK! I JUST SAW HEDWIG AT THE WINDOWSILL!"


Needless to say, these actions got the kids’ creativity and imagination flowing. Evelyn used this to teach about heritage and reading (Harry Potter stories), but also about math and chemistry (creating magic potions and measuring out ingredients).



As this way of teaching (shall we call it CULTURE UNITED teaching?!) worked so well, during the 3rd year Evelyn asked the children what they would like to do in terms of ‘getting an event inside of their classroom’. The children came up with the highland games. Highland games have been a part of Scotland's culture for hundreds of years and are just as popular today as they've ever been. And it's no wonder when you experience the sense of community, heritage and celebration at each of Scotland's Highland games. While centered on competitions in piping, drumming, dancing and Scottish heavy athletics, the games also include entertainment and exhibits related to other aspects of Scottish and Gaelic cultures.


The children and their teacher, Evelyn, organized their own highland games and learned about sports, dancing, friendship, and resilience. Resilience, because on the planned day of the games, the weather was so bad that they had to cancel and postpone…. Luckily, at the second try they were able to perform their games. The pictures speak for themselves!



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