Pilot Implementation of the Educational Materials for Literature, History, and Natural Sciences at Secondary Schools in Thrace
The Project for the Education of the Muslim Minority in Thrace has prepared and produced, since 2004, educational materials for secondary school pupils in the subjects of Greek Language, Literature, Mathematics, History and Natural Sciences. These materials have been approved by the Ministry of Education’s Pedagogical Institute and been used successfully in the Compensatory Classes for Minority pupils. With the passing of time, however, some changes took place in the characteristics of compulsory education in Greece. Two of these changes, inextricably linked to the educational philosophy of the “New School” (the Education Ministry’s new strategy for the way schools should function), are: (a) The use of multiple sources of content, and (b) the differentiated approaches within the framework of learning and teaching.
Thus, when the current phase of the Project was being planned, it was deemed appropriate to include in its actions a pilot implementation that involved using in the regular curriculum some of the educational materials that were initially intended to be used only in compensatory classes, since
A. these materials can be utilized as alternative sources of content for the implementation of the regular school curriculum,
B. they can inspire differentiated strategies in the teaching of the pupil populations (that are ethnoculturally differentiated anyway) in the classes in the secondary schools of Thrace,
C. they can “train” teachers in the use of multiple sources of content and help them come up with differentiated teaching activities and/or scenarios, thus contributing to the teachers’ further professional development.
The pilot implementation started in January 2012 and will be completed at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
The pilot implementation involves the use of educational materials in the subjects of Literature (a language course par excellence), of History (where the Project has succeeded to produce high-quality but also widely approved educational materials, when many other attempts to produce such materials for History classes have failed) and Natural Sciences (which had already been designed as supplementary materials for the regular curriculum).
Based on the data gathered and assessed so far for these three subjects, there emerge three significant findings and one commitment:
A. The quality of the educational materials for all three subjects is assessed positively, because it appears that the users of the materials, teachers and pupils, can easily adjust them to their needs. It appears, in other words, that the materials first inspire trust in the educational principles that they promote and then unleash the creativity of their users. With these dynamics, the educational materials of the Project show an in-built capability to “self-renew” -- a characteristic that fights the routine of the classroom, leading to good learning outcomes, while at the same time boding well for the materials’ long-term viability and making them suitable to be used in teacher-to-teacher communications.
B. The teachers who participate in the pilot implementation have shown that they can improvise and modify the existing materials. They search for additional sources and are not afraid to use innovative teaching approaches in their classes. They are confident in their ability to improve their teaching and the performance of their pupils. They function as perceptive observers of themselves and of their pupils. In addition, and in short, through this implementation, they have developed into teachers-researches who are capable, to a smaller or a larger degree, each in a different way, to communicate their work to the educational community and to receive feedback from it.
C. The whole experience of the pilot implementation has proven to be unique (it involves supervision of teacher’s work on a regular basis for two years, meetings in groups, production and exchange of materials, sharing teaching suggestions, etc.) It has been an experience that validates the significance of systematically pilot testing in the field any program of studies and/or any educational materials. It has shown that a certain amount of time is necessary for positive outcomes, and it has also demonstrated the need for the participants’ commitment. This commitment can get strengthened internally by the quality and the positive outcomes of the implementation itself.
The aforementioned commitment has extensions in the planning of the Project: The Project is committed to disseminate the outcomes and the philosophy of this educational pilot implementation, by organizing some actions during the current school year, and after it’s over, through conferences, through articles to be published in scientific journals, through posts on the internet, etc.
Samples from the work that is being done within the framework of the pilot implementation were presented at the Educational Symposium entitled “Innovative Practices in the education of Minority Children in Thrace” that was held on October 5-7, 2012, in Komotini.
See, for instance: