Cover of the book Treasures to keep.
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March 2002

Book Treasures to keep:
A treasure for Chilean education

Edited by Chile's Cultural Heritage Corporation, the book was made thinking in all those children that spend their time in hospitals. The text was written by teachers Beatriz García-Huidobro and Alejandra Stevenson, and focuses on the urgent premise of placing the human being as center of the learning process.

By Rosario Mena

To give hospitalized boys and girls (5 to 10 years of age) a book that helps them develop their cognitive abilities in a free and fun way has been the main goal of teachers Beatriz García-Huidobro and Alejandra Stevenson. Their book Tesoros para guardar (Treasures to keep) fills the gap that affected children who lost their school education because of sickness and solitude.

With drawings by Paulina Veloso and the review of psychologist Neva Milicic, the book is a project from Chilean Cultural Heritage Corporation, which follows in the same path the series about heritage education started with El baúl de mis tesoros (My chest of treasures), distributed during the year 2000 in schools of the Metropolitan Region and the city of Ancud, in the Chiloé Island.

According to the information given by the Ministry of Health, each year about 2,400 children between the ages of 5 and 10 are hospitalized for long periods of time; sometimes, even years.

"Those kids spend hours on their own, with no company at all. It's hard to teach to them: they get tired easily and loose concentration. School books are based on group activities, which is something you can not do in hospitals", explains Beatriz García-Huidobro.

To develop abilities linked to the senses, thought and synthesis, to stimulate reading and mathematical abilities are some of the pedagogical goals of this text. The activities included are simple, close and recreational, and go along illustrations that refer to values and heritage contents.

To paint the Tirana mask (a typical religious celebration from the North), read about Chilean stories and legends, reproduce a moai or a house on stilts, find the shortest road to the San Francisco Church through math or decide what of one's own belongings could be preserved are some of the activities included. There are social and ethical issues that are part of this book, which teaches about jobs, people, places, traditions and cultural roots, finding in heritage focus a motivation for children going through a hard time.

"Kids that are now motivated by the heritage issue will grow up to be adults concerned with its conservation", says Beatriz.

—How did this book come to be?
—It was chosen from several projects. We came to the conclusion that the best was one that would start from a close perspective, link it to affection, so the experiences would be more relevant in kids' lives. The natural origin is the faith we have in education and what can be achieved with it in children.

—Which are the text's goals?
—A lot; but the main one is to achieve a level of identification and valorization with our own History and the one of the community where we live and grow. These are elements that will later develop self-confidence and personal valuation. With today's globalization process it is more needed than ever identification with one's own roots, with those things, facts, places, traditions and costumes that give each of us a sense of belonging.

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