“Holiday Journal” – a tool for student torture or it has some point after all?

Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans – John Lennon

Jun: Finally, the school is over.
July: This is what I was waiting for!
August: Ugh, school starts soon.
September: Like the holiday was never there!

Today you’re happy because you have two school-free months, tomorrow you’re starting to adjust to that, the day after tomorrow you’re totally adjusted. Then, you remember that it’s August and that September really is in two days and that you’re in school… - Melita Fazlijević, 8/2

Last class in this term. Homework: “Kids, for homework, you will take a notebook and write a journal, so you don’t get bored during the holidays”. The first class in the second term. Teaching unit – Speech exercise: “How did I spend my holiday?” or “ Unforgettable holiday moment”. It’s been like this past 50 years. No motivation, change of perspective, using the form in combination with some innovative content, no correlation… In the end, no one listens about holidays in the mountains, sledging without snow and about menus of Christmas eve dinner. The journal is written as an addition to the electronic catalogue, evolved and ready for evaluation. The journal is the best way to be aware of one's self, time and surroundings. Without big lies that our society is forcing on us, so we “beautify” our lives, creating ideal families which never argue about the toilet, all alike, just like form the butter commercials. Or a very familiar case, when the student says that he didn’t write anything because he didn’t travel anywhere. However, what kind of journal it could be?

1. “Petty journal of colours and emotions”. Choose 10 days you found interestinf. Find a little thing for each day and tape it to the paper – a tag, a ticket, a piece of broken ornament, a piece of the red nose from “The Street of Open Heart”, rubber from the pickle jar, or a piece of gum you were holding in your mouth until it went tasteless…or make a splotch, leave a pencil trail or a drawing… Connect the object to the moment, give it color and emotion. While reading the journals you can go ‘crossed’: “Who else has a blue day? How did it look like?” or “Christmas was golden. Maybe someone’s was green or yellow”.

2. “Destroy the diary”. Make your own version of hit-book by noting games for surpassing boredom, on ten pages, by noting the word games, revived places you’ve visited. For starters, you could randomly spread around copies of the existing book.

3. Blog, photo-journal, comic book…“10 days that changed the holiday”. Unusual scenes they will remember. In the era of phones with internet and good cameras – it couldn’t be more simple. We live in a time when a ‘blogger’ is a much more interesting ‘calling’ than being a ‘chronicler’. Imagine a ten-scenes comic book in which you are the main character. There are authors that recorded their activities at regular intervals. They would take a photo every 6 (or 8 hours, like an antibiotic), no matter whether at that moment they had a view at the stars, top of the Alps or just a table cloth with breadcrumbs on it or a gloomy hallway.

4. “Holiday journal as…” The TV guide, collection of feathers, tourist guide, marble or seashell collection, herbarium, a board game…Connect the similar days of the holiday (by comparison, metaphor, allegory) with movie titles, TV shows, types of trees, colours and the sizes of marbles, with spaces in a board game… More demanding, but challenging.

5. “The holiday was like…(journal of comparison)”. Instead of the explanation, here is a student’s poem:


It was beautiful and nice like Jelena.
Annoying as flu,
Sweet as a good meal,
Short and wet like February.

It was relaxed and interesting like Miloš,
Funny and cold like Snowman,
Glamorous and long like Oscar’s.

Exciting and extreme like skiing,
Interesting and playful like birthday parties.
It was strong and fantastic like a storm,
But freezing like a freezer.

The holiday was surprising as gifts,
Unusual and crazy like a book
And confused like this song.

Dejana Divjak, 8/2

This is just a small part of possible approaches to one very old literary form. Cherish jour school journals in the years to come, no matter how tempted you are to throw them away. One of the journals was awarded at a competition organized by “Laguna”. It was made by a student from a school I work at as a librarian, it ended up in a recycle pile, luckily it was saved and sent for the competition. Yes, I read the journal. And yes, maybe it wasn’t right, but memories don’t fade easily. Even if you throw them away.

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