About a month ago, I found out that I had to teach in ….Greek ,during the so called “Flexible Zone” of the greek primary schools, which has to do with projects oriented learning , for about 2 hours every week. I had to think hard before I made up my mind and finally decided to work on a British Council project, called “Life Skills”, which sounded both promising and challenging! I also decided ,to do part of the project, in english!
Life Skills are not something new; they are a set of basic skills
that enable us to effectively manage the challenges and questions
we face in our daily lives. They include confidence, assertiveness,
decision-making, and the ability to stay safe
and healthy. Schools are uniquely placed to play a key role in promoting
and sustaining young people’s emotional and social health,
as part of their role in providing a rounded quality education which helps pupils
to gain the confidence they need to develop into successful adults.
This training material, has been approved by the Ministry of Education
and Religious Affairs as being pedagogically appropriate for students in the 5th and 6th grade
of Primary School and in Gymnasio following a recommendation
of the Institute of Educational Policy.
The most effective form of
learning in Life Skills education is:
• active: emphasises learning by doing
• interactive: uses discussion and debate
• relevant: focuses on real-life
issues facing young people and society
• critical: encourages young people
to think for themselves
• collaborative: includes group work
and collaborative learning
• participative: gives young people
a say in their own learning.
The aim of the programme is to teach students how to:
• participate actively in various
decision-making and voting processes
• weigh up what is fair and unfair in
different situations, realise that justice
is fundamental to a democratic society
and study the role of law in maintaining
order and resolving disputes
• consider how democracy, justice, diversity,
tolerance, respect and freedom
are valued by people of different
beliefs, backgrounds and traditions
within a changing democratic society
• comprehend the roles of citizens
in holding those in power to account
• explore diverse national,
regional, ethnic and religious
cultures, groups and communities
(in Greece) and the connections
• take into account the interaction
between Greece, the rest of Europe
and the world.
I truly believe that, democracies need active, informed and responsible citizens, who are willing and able to take responsibility for themselves and their communities and contribute to the political process.
Life Skills education involves a wide range of diverse learning elements, which include:
• Knowledge and understanding:
Of topics such as laws and rules,
the democratic process, the media,
human rights, diversity, money
and the economy, sustainable
development, and the world as a global
community; and of concepts such
as democracy, justice, equality,
freedom, authority and the rule of law
• Skills and aptitudes: Critical thinking,
analysing information, expressing
opinions, taking part in discussions
and debates, negotiating, dispute resolution
and participating in community actions
• Values and attitudes: Respect
for justice, democracy and the
rule of law, openness, tolerance,
courage to defend a point of view,
and a willingness to listen to,
work with and stand up for others.
The following first activity is a copy from the British Council manual for trainers and teachers with recommended activities ! My mentor in this project is Faidra Tsalababouni and I am so grateful for that!!Thanks Faidra!! You are precious!
Activity One: Sailing to a new land
We ask the students to imagine that they are getting ready
to set sail for a new continent. No one is living there now,
and so when they arrive, they will be responsible
for establishing a new country.
We split up the students into small groups and give each group an envelope with all the Wants and Needs cards; we explain to them that these are the things they will be packing to start their life in the new country. We ask each group
to open the envelope, share out the cards and study them.
We explain that the ship is setting sail and begin a story in this way: At first, the journey is very pleasant.
The sun is shining and the sea is serene. However, a big storm suddenly breaks out and the ship starts to tilt dangerously.
In fact, it is about to sink! You need to throw five of your cards overboard so that the ship can float. We ask each group to decide which cards they will throw overboard.
We explain to them that they will not be able to recover these items later on. We collect the cards that have been
“thrown overboard” and place them in a pile.
We continue with the story:
The storm has finally subsided. Everyone feels relieved.
However, a weather forecast reports that a Category 5 hurricane is heading towards the ship. To survive
the hurricane, you must throw another five cards overboard! Remember: don’t discard items you will most probably need to survive in your new country.
In the same way as before, we collect the cards and place them in a separate pile.
We continue with the story:
We almost didn’t make it! However, we have almost reached the new continent. Everyone is very excited. However,
just as we see land on the horizon, a huge whale crashes into our ship, tearing a hole in its side. You need to make the ship even lighter! Throw away four more cards.
We collect the cards and put them in a pile.
You announce that they have finally reached the new continent safely and are ready to build a new country. We ask each group to glue their remaining cards to a sheet of paper so that everyone can remember what they have brought with them to the new continent. Do you have all you need to survive? To grow and properly develop?
Review and evaluation:
1. We review the activity by asking questions such as:
a. What did you enjoy in this activity?
b. How did you decide on what was not needed?
What was essential?
c. Was it difficult to make certain decisions? Which ones?
d. Were there any disagreements in the group about what to keep and what to throw overboard? How did you resolve them?
e. Do all people have the same needs?
Which people may have different needs?
f. What do you think of your final choices?
Will you be able to survive in this foreign country?
Will you be able to grow and properly develop?
g. How did the group decide what to throw overboard?
h. Were you surprised by the final outcome?
i. If you were to repeat this activity a second time, would you discard different items?
2. Point out that human rights are based on human needs: the things that people need to survive, grow, properly develop and live a dignified life.
Ask questions like:
a. Did you have all you need to survive?
b. Did you have all you need to grow and properly develop?
c. Which things would you have liked to keep but decided were not essential?
• Draw a pyramid.
• Ask the students to place their cards on the pyramid
with the important cards at the base and
the less important ones at the top.
•will look at alternative options, take decisions and justify their choices
•will critically evaluate different ideas and viewpoints, that they agree or disagree with
•will negotiate, make decisions and take action to try and influence others
Students will produce/participate in: Needs Hierarchy Pyramid
They are expected to discuss their choices and vote for the best pyramid! Finally, they will be asked to write an essay summarising their views and experience!
Four school teachers and me, selected the three best essays on the topic! The winners received awards and were asked to read their essays to their classmates!
(to be continued…)