The curriculum of the 8-hour training given below has been jointly developed by the educational experts of all SKHC partners and run in 24 different 8-hour online trainings sessions with the participation of primary and secondary education officials, school directors and teachers in Greece, North Macedonia, and Bulgaria (eight 8-hour training sessions per country). The design and coordination of the 8-hour online training sessions were based on the methodology and principles of participatory and interactive education described in more detail in Part 2.3 of this Toolkit.
TRAINING DAY 1 | Total duration: 4 hours
Welcoming, introduction to the project | 10'
Presentation of the content of the project overall (activities, objectives) as well as of the 8- hour training’s program:
Team building activities | 20'
Activity 1: The 3 objects (10′)
Every participant is requested to turn off her/his camera for 2 minutes and to come back to the group with 3 objects which s/he will use to present herself/himself and her/his everyday life to the group.
Activity 2: Our group’s principles (5′)
Every participant is requested to write in the group chat of the platform one principle that is important to be respected by everyone in the group during the training.
Activity 3: The expectations’ bowl (10′)
The facilitator screen shares with the group an image of a bowl, a jar etc. The participants are requested to write something on the image, adding short phrases with their expectations from the training that will follow. Following the facilitator, each group of participants lists its expectations per category (e.g. related to personal development, solving an existing issue within the school community etc.) and presents the categories to the whole group. This image is saved by the facilitator and is used as an evaluation tool for the whole training session on the second training day. Description is given below in “Day 2” section.
Managing controversy in schools | 195'
Activity 4, Part I: The meaning of controversial issues in school (25’)
Before any definition of controversy and its aspects is given by the facilitators, participants are requested to work in groups of 3-4 people for 10 minutes and to give examples of controversial issues on which they feel keen to express and exchange views and feelings. One representative of every group is responsible for collecting and presenting all the statements of her/his group.
It is possible that some of the examples presented by participants do not correspond to the definition of controversy given in this Toolkit. It is advisable that the coordinators of the workshop do not make this an issue in this initial phase of the workshop and allow group members to assimilate the Toolkit’s definition during the presentation that follows.
Presentation on controversy and managing controversy in schools (30’)
At that point, facilitators present slides to the group. The presentation takes place in an interactive way, questions are encouraged at any time so as to preserve its participatory character.
Activity 4, Part II: The meaning of controversial issues in school (20’)
At that point, controversial cases previously developed by the sub-groups are presented in a plenary session and the group with the guidance of the facilitators categorise those statements according to whether they consider them controversies or not, using the definition of the term “controversy” that has been given to the group.
Activity 5: Teacher positions on controversial issues (50’)
Facilitators share with the participants a variety of student comments that can be expressed at school which reveal existing controversies. Examples of such comments are taken from the “Teaching controversial issues” CoE development pack, page 68 https://rm.coe.int/1680a12735 .
Facilitators also share with participants a list of teaching styles that can be used in handling these controversies. Facilitators only share a list of the teaching approaches, without giving extra information.
Participants work in groups of 3-4 people. They are requested to pick two comments that are most likely to be expressed by students in their schools and select one teaching style to handle the controversies these comments reflect. They are also asked to note the strong and the weak points of the method they selected. Time given is 25 minutes.
Controversial comments expressed by students that can motivate teachers to address controversial issues.
- “I hate foreigners – there are too many of them and they’re taking our jobs”
- “You always favour the girls in the class, don’t you?”
- “What’s so bad about being a racist? My dad says he is one.”
- “It’s no use asking the fat kids about healthy eating.”
- “How about we have a Nationalist speaker talk to our class for a change?”
- “Are you gay? You must be, you are always talking about them.”
- “It’s ok to be sexist – just look at what’s in the media and on the internet.”
- “The headteacher talks about democracy in this school but spends most of the time acting as a tyrant and you teachers do nothing about it.”
Which approach would you select as teachers? Please also think of potential strengths and weaknesses.
- Always make your own views known.
- Adopt the role of a neutral chairperson – never let anyone know your own views.
- Make sure students are presented with a wide range of different views on every issue.
- Challenge students’ views by arguing the opposite of what students believe
- Try to support particular students or groups of students by arguing on their behalf.
- Always promote the ‘official’ view on an issue – what the authorities expect you to say.
Break | 15’
Activity 6: Teachers’ positions on controversial issues (continuation)
Afterwards sub-groups present their answers in the plenary session and discuss the criteria with which student comments and teaching styles were selected, realising similarities and differences in the rationale followed by every group. At the end of the exercise, facilitators present the strong and weak points of every teaching method, as given in the “Teaching controversial issues” pack, pages 52-54. Facilitators introduce participants to other methods that schools can decide to use to handle controversial issues by introducing “Managing controversy – Developing a strategy for handling controversy and teaching controversial issues in schools” CoE tool. Total time proposed is 20 minutes.
Activity 7, Part I: Case study development (40’)
Facilitators present two controversial cases that are commonly found in schools in Greece, N. Macedonia and Bulgaria and one that has been considered as too “progressive” for the teaching community of the partner countries. The first case was developed by the partners’ educational experts while the rest two were selected from the “Managing controversy” CoE tool (pages 30 and 42) during the SKHC educational experts’ meeting. Facilitators present only the cases, without the solutions proposed, and avoid offering any guidance to the teachers’ group during this phase.
Participants work in groups of 3-4 people, each developing similar case studies that have occurred in their schools. Groups develop only the “problematic situations”, without proposing solutions at this time. Time given is 20 minutes.
Cases are presented in plenary and the group discusses them for about 10 minutes.
Facilitators explain to the group that the activity will continue the next day.
Indicative cases studies that are presented to the group. The last two cases are cited in the “Managing Controversy” CoE Tool, pages 30 and 42.
In a rural area, at a lyceum (high school with students aged 15-18), some students decide to go to the graduation prom in pairs accompanied by same sex peers. They also request to practice and dance a waltz (which is the main event of the prom) in same sex pairs. Some students and teachers oppose this decision, using anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric. A group of students raises the issue with the school principal.
In an urban city there is a mixed secondary school with a culturally rich intake of students aged 11 to 16, representing over 40 nationalities, including a significant number of children of Somali origin. Thirteen men from the Somali community were convicted of child exploitation offences with white girls, following a police investigation. The head teacher was informed of developments just before the news broke in the local and national media.
Lark Rise Academy is a primary school with pupils aged 3 to 9. Through a system of focus groups, the school discovered that pupils were dissatisfied with the way the school council worked. They felt that it was not genuinely representing all pupils. Responsibility fell to only a few pupils, whereas more wanted to be involved. Also, there was a criticism that only well-behaved pupils could serve.
Evaluation | 10’
Participants briefly share with the group their comments, feelings etc. from the educational process they were involved in that training day 1.
“Homework” description | 5’
As “homework”, facilitators encourage participants to “note” controversies they see or hear in the news, at work, in discussions they come across on TV or other media, and in their daily lives, and present them on the following day of the training.
TRAINING DAY 2 | Total duration: 4 hours
Welcoming activity | 10’
Every participant shares with the group feelings/ideas right before the SKHC training day kicks off.
Presentation of previous day’s “homework” | 10’
Participants share the various controversies they noticed the previous day as presented in the media, workplace or any other social environment they find themselves in.
Activity 7, Part II | 60’
Sub-groups that worked together on the development of the case studies on the previous day, now exchange cases in the way indicated by the facilitator. They work on these case studies brainstorming and coming up with ideas that could contribute towards the handling of controversial issues that each case study expresses.
Sub-groups are also encouraged to inform their peers about related good practices that their schools successfully implement or have implemented. Proposed time: 30 minutes
Following, sub-groups present and discuss in plenary session. Time: 25 minutes
Presentation of SKHC strategy to handle controversy through non-formal human rights education | 20’
Facilitators present an educational program to be implemented with the participation of students for the empowerment of the school members to effectively handle conflict and controversial issues that can come up at schools. The program consists of different activities that address primary and secondary education students. Its activities are divided into three different sub-sections:
Team bonding– Emotions – Cooperation
Peaceful coexistence and communication – Peaceful conflict resolution
Activity 8: Peaceful communication activities, “My and our flower” | 30’
Each participant is requested to take 5 minutes and think about their values, noting them down next to a flower they drew themselves. In sub-groups of 3-4 participants each, they are then requested to exchange their answers thus creating a common flower with attributes and values they found out they share.
Sub-groups present their flowers in a plenary session and the discussion opens on how a group identity can / could be developed into a diverse school, based on values and relations that connect the school community members under the umbrella of human rights and democracy.
Activity 9: Peaceful conflict resolution activity “Can we all win?” | 40’
This is an introductory activity to peer mediation that can be proposed to participant teachers as part of a human rights-based approach to peaceful conflict resolution and management within the school. However, the activity can run independently as a way of realising that in most cases in everyday life viewing a conflict situation as a “win-lose” situation is the dominant one. However, this activity is a chance to realise that there are other perspectives and is an opportunity to discuss ways to educate school members in alternative, peaceful options for handling a dispute or disagreement.
Participants work in pairs of two. When all pairs stand facing each other, the facilitators give them the following instruction:
“Each one of you has 3 minutes to win over your partner to your side. If you succeed, the prize is 100 euros.”
This instruction is the same for all participants. Every pair has 3 minutes to negotiate, then the group returns to the plenary.
With the guidance of the facilitators, each pair presents what took place in their rooms and whether pairs came up with any solutions. During the discussion in the plenary session participants can discuss how they felt, whether their reactions would be similar if they had to do something similar in real life, whether attributes of their personalities came out in the way they competed for the prize during the game, which solutions bring positive results when in a conflict situation and finally, the strengths and weaknesses of each way of handling conflict etc.
In most cases, the results can be the following:
- No one wins, since the pairs did not reach a common solution. (I lose, you lose)
- No one wins, since the pairs did not reach a common solution. (I lose, you lose)
- Pairs agree for one to win “on paper” but agree to share the prize afterwards. (50-50)
The ideal solution, though rarely seen, is to exchange rooms (exchange place, exchange positions). In that case, both parts win, one prize each!
The majority of the participants interpreted the instructions to mean there should be only one winner, although this was not mentioned by the facilitator reading the instructions.
Activity 10: Democratic decision-making activity “Simulation activity for collective decision making” | 50’
Participants are introduced to a collective process of democratic decision making though consent. A facilitator coordinates the process, informing the group how to proceed.
Participants are informed that they should collectively decide on which of the following issues is the most important and needs to be addressed directly during the teachers meeting.
- Students demand to have special meals in the school canteen for their peers who have particular nutritional needs based on their religion or lifestyle.
- Students demand to run a human rights campaign while the school’s principal and teachers have already announced a campaign based on history and tradition.
- Students refuse to join school parade rehearsals and do not participate in the parade.
The process below follows the main principles of consent decision-making based on Sociocracy and can facilitate the work of any group with a fixed number of members. It can be used by teachers as a participatory and inclusive model of decision making at school.
- For every issue there is one representative who presents it to the group.
- Questions are asked in order to ensure that all participants understood the issue in the same way.
- Circle of views
- Second circle of views
- The facilitator processes the feedback in order to develop a new proposal, based on the views that have been expressed by the participants. S/he explains to the group the way in which she synthesized these views into a new proposal by trying to make it acceptable to all group members.
- The consent of the group is necessary.
Evaluation activity: The expectations’ bowl | 10′
Participants share their evaluations interactively by writing down their notes on the image of the expectations’ bowl created on the first day of the training. They can express there whether their expectations were met or not, if more were added or realised as well as any other comments they want to add.
If time permits, they can also share their impressions and feelings at the plenary session.