The unique Kyiv alternative school — BerkoShko — needs your help.
We ask you to support us on Patreon.
Why do we appreciate BerkoShko so much? It is an experimental school driven by creative teachers, who inspire kids to learn and generously share their pedagogical innovations with educators all over Ukraine.
This school was founded in 2011 and has been operating for 11 years in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Video shows the exiting educational environment at BerkoShko.
The website features an article about our school describing main principles: why grades and formal assessment are abandoned, why a many teachers in BerkoShko don’t have a pedagogical education, but rather are professionals in a specific field of knowledge.
This year, 2022, BerkoShko was about to graduate the same kids who started learning the very first year of the school founding. But russia has stolen their graduation.
After the full-scale russian invasion in Ukraine in February, the learning process has been stopped. Teachers and students had to leave their houses and the school premises to find a safe place. They ended up at least in 8 different countries.
Because of the war, many parents lost their jobs and can’t afford the school fees. However we have continued teaching our students online and hope to get back and resume BerkoShko in person soon.
The school building survived, despite the shot of the russian missile that destroyed a nearby house.
BerkoShko regularly reflects on the results of its educational practice by publishing articles and methodological materials, presenting at professional conferences and workshops and providing teacher training courses about the reasons for abolishing of marks, and adding non-traditional subjects like mythology, speech development through discussions (named «tereveni» or chitter-chatter), cross-discipline projects, and research projects we call «quests».
Since 2014, co-founders and teachers at BerkoShko have given lots of educational seminars, published textbooks and taken part in numerous education Ukrainian and international education festivals: NEOсвітній Арсенал, VilnOsvita, Horisontals. Educational experiment, Summerhill Festival of Childhood 2021, IDEC & EUDEC 2019 among others.
It's a small school, but it has a huge impact on educational changes in Ukraine.
What are BerkoShko students saying about their school?
Ivanka, 17 years old:
«BerkoShko gave me a diverse education, like when you study not only according to the Soviet system "physics-mathematics-grammar", but also a lot of practical things. For the 10 years that I studied here, there were many projects: the literary prize named “Fluffy Pencil”, the creation of our own YouTube Channel with the possibility to act as an actor, a cameraman or a screenwriter
Each lesson was valuable and interesting! In biology for instance we could discover real animal organs. It was interesting to combine theoretical knowledge with the real world, not just to study from books that there is an aortic artery somewhere in the organism, but to touch it for real.
And all these extra classes like “tereveni» (chitter-chatter), mythology, art, economics were really needed.
After studying for a year at the Krakow Lyceum and becoming familiar with the Polish education system, I’m deeply convinced that in BerkoShko we learned in a very similar way, but it was even better! :))
And there were really good teachers in BerkoShko. So, I’ve learned to STUDY. I miss Mr. Yuri especially! I miss his math so much.»
Aliza, 12 years old:
«What I like about BerkoShko is that we literally have the possibility to make decisions and have a right to choose. We feel that education is our responsibility, and we know that it’s up to us to decide whether we want to attend a lesson or not.
We’ve got a very friendly class! I’m in good or, at least, neutral relationships with my classmates. In BerkoShko teachers help us to resolve conflicts. In my opinion, it’s crucial and up to date.
It is also very nice to have many people who take care of us here. There are good teachers, delicious lunches, a very cozy school atmosphere and comfortable learning conditions. I feel so much gratitude for this :) It’s all of such great value for me. I feel home at school».
Illya, 12 years old:
«I think that just the fact that such a school exists is unbelievable! I really like that we have a big friendly class and we always decide together what to do. I also like that we have a whole big house for our school - so you feel older and more responsible :) I also appreciate people who study at BerkoShko and I really want to meet everyone together, at least once more. I would be very happy if the war ends relatively quickly and we can resume our studies at BerkoShko. Even if we can no longer walk in our forest (the forest was mined by the russian army when they retreated from Kyiv), or even change the location, I will still be wildly happy! Everything will be Ukraine!!!»
Nikita, 16 years old:
«BerkoShko gave me the understanding that learning can be enjoyable and that school can be fun and rewarding at the same time. We were given interesting education courses of a very high quality. BerkoShko gave us a wide range of knowledge and was extremely creative: I will remember Catherine's game about the formation of countries as states, for the whole of my life. Thanks to informality, there was freedom, and with its help it was easier to understand the subject, especially science.
BerkoShko has a horizontal management, which is cool. At the beginning it feels so unusual, but after practicing it for a while you wouldn’t like to go back to the hierarchy. All people know each other. If there is something you don't like, there is always a place for discussion and looking for solutions.
We felt respect and there was always this attitude of equality, which was especially important for me.
Also this school is located in a very nice place — a private building near the forest.
It was a great time! It needs to be continued!»
Yulia, 17 years old:
«BerkoShko gave me this fascinating feeling of "having friends close at hand".
I was next to the people who gave me lots of attention, opened new worlds to me and never perceived me as inferior.
BerkoShko is an incredible project. One always has an opportunity to ask the most ridiculous questions and discuss fragile issues here, with no fear of losing his or her reputation and each time receiving clear answers (and sometimes even more questions). That's why BerkoShko gave me something like the basis in my studies — the ability to think and analyze. This became crystally clear to me when I started studies in another school. Most students there try to drill new information without analyzing and, most importantly, reflecting. One more precious thing about my studies in BerkoShko is that I started speaking Ukrainian here (insofar for a long period Ukraine felt huge russian impact, many people in Ukraine spoke russian). It helps me a lot now.
No doubts, BerkoShko must go on! This is a unique project, it gives not just knowledge of standard academic syllabus, but a broad view of the world. In this school you are trained to communicate with people of a variety of professions which opens your eyes to reality. BerkoShko has its unique presentation of information, especially in primary school, and it will be remembered for a lifetime.
Most of all, BerkoShko is formed from incredibly cool people. Students here are as important as teachers. Cool, healthy atmosphere without the humiliation or alienation. And delicious food :)»
Kate Botvinnik, a co-founder of FreeDome school in Vinnytsia, organizer of International Democratic Educational Conference 2018: «BerkoShko is not just a school. It's the source of light that spreads the rays of awareness, conclusions, reflections, webinars, podcasts, methods, materials and books all over Ukraine.
Nowadays, alternative schools produce a lot of experiences, «raw materials» for further rethinking and reforming education of the future. Meanwhile BerkoShko has reenforced the will to create wellstructured products from “raw materials». It inspires others to overcome barriers to starting new educational projects.
BerkoShko is an educational change-agent that is admired without envy»
We need to save our education for the future rebirth of Ukraine.
Therefore we have one more request.
To #saveBerkoShko and continue studying next year, we need $3200 per month.
We ask you to support us on Patreon.
Or PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any question, you can contact us:
Phone: +38 063 261 9343 (Valentyna Merzhyievska)