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Education & Youth Development

Whoosh.wien understands education to be a lifelong project, with adults continuing to learn through reading books, listening to the news, meeting new people and staying curious. We create events where people can learn more about others, and themselves. And we work with schools and universities, to entertain and inform students about the city and the world.

Eugene has cooperated with Uni Wien (in particular the sociology & geography departments), MODUL Uni, FH Wien (tourism & innovation), TU Raumplanung, BOKU (making the cell-researchers' work more present in Austrian public life & media), WU (Social Innovation & NPO Forschungs Institut), FH Technikum (teaching incoming students about how the city works, & intercultural dialogue), introducing Central European University students & staff, arriving from Budapest, to their new home Bezirk, Favoriten, using a gamified format (and a human rights tour giving Vienna scores on 15 different themes), & tours for the Med & Angewandte Unis, plus the Institute of Science & Technology Austria.

We are always happy to be approached by teachers with ideas for future events - it could be a concept you want to explore, a tour as part of a course or conference, or a lecture from Eugene and his colleagues. And since he is a native speaker of English, so there is the opportunity to interact with and improve your spoken language. All these events are also available in German. In May 2021, Whoosh was asked by the International Baccalaureate if they could include a text about our Smells like WIEN Spirit tour in their future German language text-books.

Climate change is the great challenge of our age. How well is it being taught in schools? We want to engage with all kinds of educational groups to get creative with the messages of sustainability and our role in avoiding catastrophic collapse. The system is not so flexible in Austria, for outsiders to get involved and push for new ideas. It can be conservative and bureaucratic, but we offer a modern, instructive, interactive and attractive way forward. Teachers are usually sympathetic, if you offer them time for free, and new, important, progressive ideas, well-delivered. We aim to create debates in public space, often in dialogue with people we meet spontaneously on the streets. Students enjoy this interaction, and can reimagine urban space as something more playful and lively.

Which part of the curriculum should host environmentalism? All of them! If a more just, green future is not being taught in schools, why not? Schools have a huge responsibility, also to teach students about future jobs which sustainability offers. Can we find creative, hip ways to insert it into technology lessons, on smart city, a Green Wien tour as fun English lesson, or a party where all the songs take Eco as a theme. Currently, there are many challenges to embedding the Sustainable Development Goals into our teaching practice – such as communication gaps within ministries and districts/school boards, competing interests and priorities within public education, and a lack of professional development opportunities for interested teachers on SDG topics.

All of our events encourage critical-thinking, empowerment, participation and ethical development.

Please call Eugene on 0680 1254354, if you would like to explore a cooperation. He is a free-range parent. Here are brief descriptions of some of our projects, which offer alternative learning on the streets, or in classrooms...

Eugene is consulting with WU to develop a new course on Social Innovation in Vienna, for professionals.

Eugene has consulted with Uni Wien sociology department to research and teach a new course on Smart Cities.

Eugene created adventures for the spatial-planning students at TU, where they could test out theories of public space in practice, all over the city. He also taught in that department, with lectures on city networks and innovation on the streets.

Music Safari, where Eugene visits a school and takes over a class of 11-year olds to ask them which music they hear at home, but never on the streets of Wien. And he collects those songs and plays them the next saturday at a party in the Gemeindebauhof nearest to the school. It is a chance to mix up the music of Roma, Kurdish, Nigerian, Turkish, Serbian, Afghan, Syrian people, and then for the kids to show us their dance steps, and feel proud of their heritage. Where children collect, parents follow, and so we hope to open up new dialogue and networks.

Schools' Architecture Adventure is a very Instagrammable look at alternative architecture in Wien, and the way buildings help to create society. Children tour new and old, beautiful and ugly houses, photograph them, and stand up and present their favourite discoveries, in class later.

Rebellious Optimism, looking at why we should all learn how to approach life more positively, in solving problems, seeing opportunities and creating better mental health. A philosophical campaign.

Street Dialogue, where a group of pensioners meet schoolchildren from the same Graetzl, with cake and a drink, in public space (usually a park) to chat about how life has changed in the Bezirk, with questions about play, food, shopping, street names, education, transport and parents. We want to find stories of connection, as well as differences, and for both groups to get an insight into each other's world. Since the ethnicity of the younger group is less Autochtone, this is not just about different generations in conversation, but also different cultures.

School Creativity Rolling Show is about showing students the value of individuality and empowerment. Eugene has developed a colourful 1-hour presentation, with his best friend Persy Bulayumi, to inspire Vienna kids to be more innovative. Please invite us to inspire your kids! Since innovation is a complex subject, and not always a priority in Austrian schools, we can support you in your work. This is a joyous, loud, moving, memorable 60 minutes. Auf Deutsch.

Smart City tour, to inspire students about a more utopian, collaborative, participative future, where they are central to city-planning and development. This can be offered as an unusual English lesson, for students older than 16.

Virtual Mobility is a coming trend, for students to make their international studies online, rather than the ecologically destructive practice of travelling all over the world. Eugene has developed immersive projects for several universities, to engage students into the experience of really being in Vienna, from abroad. An example is OeAD's (Austria’s Agency for Education & Internationalisation) Green Building Summer School, where worldwide students meet for 3 weeks in Vienna to share best-practice in ecological architecture. Many of the students come from developing countries, and so this opportunity to get insights from the West, and to offer us their tips, is specially valuable. Eugene made a 2-hour walk around Vienna, looking at outstanding sustainability, and also little details. One participant described the film as like National Geographic, but a comedy version. OeAD is one of the leading European developers of passive buildings (and also plus-energy architecture), and in particular student accommodation. They run many educational projects.

For Kaspar Festival in Seestadt, we visited a local school, and asked the 8-year olds to show us where they hide from adults, when they are playing. We wanted to make a tour where children would have power and insider knowledge, and they could show adults around the district. And it worked. We adults became wet and dirty, climbing into all the spaces the children have discovered. They loved the power this gave them, and became very competitive to show us their best hideaway spots. Seestadt child-led tour.

Eugene took his 9 year old son's school class for a walk up to the Danube, to explore Vienna's relationship to water, looking at weather, quality of drinking water, snow and ice, why the earth looks blue, how the river was moved, how much of our body is water, sport, climate change, Romans, fish, mobility, Mirna Jukic & the word for water in the 17 languages spoken by the kids in class, from Ukrainian to Armenian & Arabic. He offers this to other students also. Here they pretended to be sea monsters. It was loud, specially cos the kids could dj on the walk up there, and choose their water-themed street songs to play on the boombox. Everybody waved at us, thrilled to see youngsters out again having fun in the sun, after pandemic grey days.

water walk with josef class
Here they pretended to be sea monsters

Of course all of these tours can be English lessons, as an alternative to sitting in class.

For Forum Alpbach, we created a social-dining evening, where business leaders sat down for 2 hours of intensive conversation with 17 year olds, one-to-one. This was a radical experiment, but we wanted to show that, with a focused question menu, that each side of the conversation would learn a lot from the other. We wanted to burst filter-bubbles, and hierarchies, and give businesspeople an insight into youth thinking, and the students an opportunity to get closer to the world of entrepreneurship. Two examples of questions on the menu: 'what do you wish you had learned when you were my age?' (directed at the older participants), and 'what one thing is stopping you getting the job of your dreams?' (aimed at younger participants).

Lectures available on many subjects, from city-branding to storytelling, a lecture for the UN on why we should all walk more and drive less, and even a powerpoint for the Klimaschutz Ministerium on better uses for streets than cars. Here are some ideas.

A celebratory tour of Wien west, showing details of why Vienna is regularly ranked the best city in the world to live (looking at food, housing, beauty, connectedness, transport infrastructure, culture and jobs).

10% of the population of Vienna are students, across 22 universities, and this makes our city much younger than most. 1/3 of them are not Austrian, but many choose to stay here, after graduating. To ensure this optimistic situation remains, we need affordable, attractive, ecological housing for these new residents. And so Eugene will moderate a day of discussion, ideas and new perspectives. This is a symposium created by Wohnservice, OeAD student house builders, Wohnbaustadträtin Kathrin Gaál, plus some students, Helga Kromp-Kolb and the innovative architects of the Greenhouse in Seestadt. Future of Vienna Student Housing Symposium in Seestadt, October 2023.

Unser schulbuffet. How to eat is one of most important lessons we should get in school and kindergarten, but many children are not listening. So how can we improve the diet of our children? The Austrian Health Ministry asked us in 2012 to create a slow-food, four-course meal, inside the ministry, for 200 participants, and alongside that a question menu which would open up dialogue about our relationship with food and regionality. We invited a diverse group of players to the meal, to meet each other, including media, ministry workers, children, celebrity cooks, food industry representatives, parents, teachers, school cooks. Questions included:

1. What food takes you back to childhood?
2. Who taught you most about food or cooking?
6. Where and when did you eat your most memorable meal, and what was it?
8. What lessons have you learnt through food?
11. Which exotic food do you remember eating for the first time?
16. Is there a food which instantly brings back memories of a particular moment?

17. Which food from your region do you particularly value?

18. Do you have any guilty fast food favourites?

Youth art takeover. To inspire and empower kids, but also to show the many advantages children have over adults, we present a colourful weekend where children take over the Kunsthistorisches Museum, with graffiti sessions, young children dressing up & recreating famous paintings, in front of the original; security guards, cafe & shop assistants mostly young people, meet-&-greet staff all youngsters, for more energy; young people's art show; live music from children (eg. Wiener Saengerknaben sing Radiohead); youth help with PR & TV interviews; fresh interpretations of the art; a vote by all Vienna school children to choose which of 10 pieces of art is Vienna’s favourite young painting; live painting event, with lots of mess, local dance groups re-interpreting pictures with street dance motifs, sleepovers in front favourite paintings, with storytelling by candlelight. We call it a dream-over. We'll ask Vienna children whose parents migrated here & who speak another language - Mandarin to Turkish, Serbo-Croat to French - to lead tours for adults in that language.

As a father and mentor, Eugene also wants to show the things he has learnt about the city from his 8 year old son. And not just about the city, but life and joy, play and big questions, making friends and seeing opportunities. Once a month, his son chooses the clothing style of his father, for that day. He wants to show how valuable children are for everybody in the city, even those who do not have any of their own kids.

Eugene curated the first-ever bus tours of Meidling & Hernals, and in both tours, four locals were invited to the microphone to show us their interpretation of the Bezirk. On both tours, 13-year olds contributed their perspectives and told about their lives.

On a Floridsdorf Kindergaertnerinnen tour, Eugene was asked by the city to look at how architecture contributes to children's development.

berta von suttner schiffschule floridsdorf

Institution or Inspiration - Vienna educational architecture is our comparison tour of the best and worst learning buildings in our city. One of the things we learnt from Covid is the value of coming together to learn. Suddenly, children came to value schools and the opportunity to meet friends, chat and play together, as well as the structure and framework that lessons and schools offer. But what role do these institutions play, in terms of their physical form, in students' development? How can we share best-practice, and encourage social, physical and psychological learning?

Why is it that we can so often recognise schools architecture all over Europe? Are these buildings cliches? What would children choose for their own, child-centred learning? With climate change, can we bring more lessons into the open air?

Christine Nöstlinger Schule - erbaut von Siemens

Eugene was accompanied on this hip walk through Leopoldstadt by architect Iva Shokoska, whose focus is on inspiring children through brighter, more fun and open buildings for teaching in Wien. We welcome teachers, architects and children on the walk, to be part of the debate, as well as parents and anybody who cares about smart cities and future visionary city-planning. Eugene was very happy when his son Josef was asked to lead tours of his newly-built school, as a seven-year old child. This is a reminder that school architecture should be for kids, not adults. He showed local politicians, the architects, teachers, parents, bureaucrats and police around the new extension.

We want to show you some beautiful examples of fine Vienna schools and universities. But also some crazy mistakes the city has made.

Good school design can encourage kids to move more, to play, to dance, to eat together, to be more creative, to be happier. We should remember that kids don't just learn in schools - some avant-garde schools make lessons in tree houses, forests, factories, in parks, by rivers or on boats, on farms.