George Hollanders (1968) born in London, grew up in Amsterdam and moved to Iceland in 1989. A few years later in 1994 he started Toyworkshop Stubbur where he creates a range of naturally oiled and waxed toys out of sustainable icelandic wood but also play tables and larger projects for play schools, companies and institutions. Through the years George has been active in- or organised cultural events, performances, exhibitions and created applied art. He has also given lectures, workshops and taught at all school levels on subjects related to crafts, green design and creative crafts in schools with the aim to make students more aware of their personal abilities, likes, dislikes and sustainability. In 2002 he build his first natural playground out of drift- and local wood. In 2011 he and his partner Sarka Mrnakova re-created a traditional play ground in Dalvík in a natural way. They have since been actively gathering and sharing information about the benefits of out door learning and natural play gardens. Projects they worked on are e.g. an out door learning project with playschool Iðavellir, (2011) Akureyri and the interactive exhibition “Experience is Knowledge” (2011) Hjalteyri/Akureyri, Iceland. They are also the initiators and part of the organising group behind this conference.
Sarka Mrnakova (1983) comes from Czech Republic. She is a graduated social pedagogue (Prague, 2006) and a social worker (Olomouc, 2010). Since 2006 she is interested in methods of experiential learning, went through practical trainings and was applying it in work with children and youth. From 2003 until 2006 she was working within the non-governmental field in Czech Republic, leading and organizing programs for school classes focused on group dynamic and preparing weekend programs for teenage orphan groups with the aim to help them to prepare for their independent life after leaving the institutional care. 2009-2010 she joined a volunteering project in Iceland, assisting in elementary-, high school and a youth club. Since that time she didn´t really leave the island. From 2010 she works at Stubbur, a workshop manufacturing wooden toys. Together with her partner George Hollanders, she worked on an outdoor learning project in a kindergarten in Akureyri, re-built a playground in a natural way in north Iceland and realized an exhibition (Hjalteyri, Akureyri, 2011) connected to both, the outdoor learning project and the natural playground building. She is interested in alternative pedagogic approaches which respect individual needs of children and help them to develop their skills and interests. She is keen of recycling procedures and she likes to look at used materials from a new perspective. She is part of the initiating duo behind the conference.
Jakob Frímann Þorsteinsson (1969) hefur unnið á vettvangi frítímans, að menntamálum, við atvinnuþróun og í ferðaþjónustu. Starfaði í 12 ár við félags- og tómstundastarf hjá ÍTR. Býr að ágætis kennslureynslu í grunnskóla (2 ár) og háskóla (7 ár) og hefur komið að kennslu í framhaldsskóla, ásamt því að starfa í tvö ár við ferðaþjónustu og sjálfstætt sem vegvísir hjá Áskorun við símenntun og þróunarverkefni.
Starfar nú sem aðjúnkt við Háskóla Íslands á námsbraut í tómstunda- og félagsmálafræðum og kennir m.a. námskeið um útivist, útilíf, úti- og ævintýranám. Hann hefur unnið að rannsóknum á hálendisferðum með unglinga og á útivist almennings. Jakob hefur verið virkur í útivist og félagsstarfi m.a. í skátunum, Landsbjörgu, innan Ungmennahreyfingarinnar og í siglingaklúbb.
Lenka Uhrova (1979) born in Czecho-Slovakia, now residing in Iceland, has been working as a multilingual trainer professionally since 2007. Having worked for an EU programme mostly, targeted at youth aged 13-30, Lenka has also had extensive experience with work as a leader and facilitator of various voluntary and professional working groups in Europe. This has been in the areas of community development projects, educational projects and recently sustainable tourism projects.
Throughout the years, Lenka has prepared and carried out number of trainings or educational activities based on experiential learning, both on national and international level.
More details on Lenka´s trainer´s work is to be found here.
Specific focus in her trainer‘s work lies in exploring a concept of learning as such. On top of Experiential learning, it is also Self-directed learning concept, which she enjoyes working with. Having been introduced to the concept of Self-directed learning, she‘s been exploring pros and cons and ways of its implementation both, in formal and non-formal education (looking at long-term projects, including Grundtvig funding scheme).
When I don‘t work on educational projects, then I facilitate projects connected to community development in Iceland. They‘re mainly focused on education, sustainable development and tourism and are carried out through my company called Rökstólar samvinnumiðstöð (www.rokstolar.com). The company focuses on activities in the fields of education, sustainability and cooperation helping groups develop their capacities and confidence to engage with their current and emergent situations, issues, questions.
It was a privilege to get to know George and Sarka and follow-up on their work and become a part of their adventure that contributes to deeper understanding of learning especially on kindergarten level.
Sólveig Þórbergsdóttir - kennari við Waldorfsskólinn í Lækjarbotnum
Kristín Dýrfjörð er leikskólakennari og lektor við Háskólann á Akureyri. Hún hefur haft óbilandi áhuga á öllu því sem við kemur leikskólastarfi í áratugi. Leiðir hennar og Georgs Hollanders hafa legið saman á Akureyri í tengslum við ýmis verkefni þar. Síðasta verkefni Kristínar á þessi sviði var ListVísindaSmiðja sem hún stóð fyrir ásamt Örnu Valsdóttur myndlistarkonu í Verksmiðjunni á Hjalteyri. Kristín er alin upp í Blesugrófinni sem tengir saman Fossvoginn og Elliðaárdalinn og lék hún sér á báðum stöðum. Í móum og steinum í Fossvoginum og við læk og í skógi við Elliðaárnar. Í reynslu æskunnar má rekja áhuga hennar á náttúrulegum leiksvæðum