‘Klikeraj’ (a play of marbles) is a team of psychologists and teachers gathered around the idea of fostering creativityof children’s cognitive development. Young and motivated, they based their work on the fields of psychology of creativity and gifted education, or the education of gifted learners, which also includes theoretical work and the development of techniques, strategies and approaches in the everyday practice of education.
Team consists of nine people: Ivan Alagić, Josipa Mamužić, Ana Marija Šiblić, Pavle Mamužić, Bruno Fiala, Marinela Ivić, Tihana Svoboda, Nikolina Vrhovac and Tatjana Žipovski, psychologists and professors-educators, and Ivan told us a bit more about their engagement in these fields. (the original interview is published on the Croatian web page DuList).
‘Klikeraj’ team combines education, toys, professional seminars, research in different fields… What is your favorite part of it?
The variety of activities significantly increased in the last three years. From the initial idea of creating didactics and education, now we are dealing with – in total – child development programs, research work, expert texts and literature publication, constructing psychodiagnostic questionnaires and tests, conducting partnerships on projects, public presentations and workshops and a multitude of the so called ‘invisible’ work (laughter).
‘Klikeraj’ team is planning the establishment of a counseling center for parents and educators. Personally, research, writing and the training preparation are my favorite parts of the ‘Klikeraj’ fields of work. But when you enter such exploit, you have to cover different areas of work and deal with everything that comes on your worktable.
Are the gifted, creative children today successfully guided in their development?
That’s exactly one of the ‘Klikeraj’ missions. It is difficult to give some general conclusion. There are institutions and organizations that do care about the developmental and educational needs of gifted children and young people. However, some systematic approach, speaking both within the society and the education system now simply doesn’t exist. The legal framework for what is foreseen, but public resources are mostly insufficient for systematic care to be implemented. There are some indications that this could change in the future and we hope that the relevant initiatives will be realized. Again, the mission of ‘Klikeraj’ is to create opportunities where children can develop their interests and talents outside the school as well. Our second mission is to educate educators on how systematic work with gifted students in the school should look like. With the financing of the Ministry of Science and Education ‘Klikeraj”s project of identifying gifted learners and encouraging creativity within them, including youngsters and teachers from 18 schools in the Slavonia region was successfully done. Within this project, we held two training sessions for teachers and professional associates who focused on the strategy of recognizing gifted learners in everyday work and ways of encouraging creativity in the educational process.
Can you describe the toys and didactics you offer to children?
The basic idea of didactics we develop is to encourage specific aspects of creative thinking. Each game is designed to develop a form of divergent thinking or thinking in multiple directions. Much effort has been invested in the development of our games, experimenting and researching contemporary literature in the field of developmental and cognitive psychology. Activities that accompany games are designed in a way that requires players to devise, creating their own ideas which in that moment become the very content of the game. In this case the game has no end and it is possible to play it and use it forever, as long as there is a theme that can be entered into the game. This approach proved to be very useful in kindergarten and school practice, and we do get excellent feedback from educators and teachers.
What is the age range of children who can use toys / didactics? Is ‘Klikeraj’ team planning to design new toys in the future?
So far, we have developed two didactic sets of games – the one for nursery and preschool children, and the ones that can be played by older children and even adults. Games are given a full meaning when some kind of specific content or theme is introduced. This way the same game can be used by children of different ages, depending on their affinities, knowledge, skills… Some concepts for the new games are kept in our heads, some on paper, some are here and there sent into production.
‘Klikeraj’ is based in Osijek, but recognized throughout Croatia?
Although we are located in Osijek, our work is recognized throughout Croatia, but also beyond the borders of our country. Last year we became part of the European Talent Support Network (ETSN), a European network that brings together institutions and organizations engaged into work with talented children and young people.