The homeroom teachers arranged workshops called “Sailing to a new land” which aimed at making students realize the importance of individual and social values

Teaching for democracy

At Lijepa naša primary school in Tuhelj, Croatia, they use modern teaching methods to promote tolerance, non-violent conflict resolution and empathy among the students.

Summer Academy graduates Natalija Knezić Medvedec, school head; Snježana Romić, homeroom teacher, and Ljiljana Žegrec, teacher of English, were in charge of the project which aimed at promoting education for democratic citizenship (EDC) and human rights (HRE) across the curriculum.

Their first goal was to draw the teachers’ attention towards the subject. Surveys revealed scarce knowledge among the teachers, but that they were ready to learn. The project group thus organized a series of workshops based on lessons learned at the 2012 Summer Academy in Montenegro. Thereafter the teachers could implement EDC/HRE in the classrooms.

Sailing to a new land

The homeroom teachers arranged workshops called “Sailing to a new land” which aimed at making students realize the importance of individual and social values.

“In this workshop we discuss our needs and rights through group cooperation startegies. Students in a group have to rank what is necessary for their survival and develpment so they have to set priorities. In this way they separate their wishes from their needs. Human needs they then connect to human rights», Liljana Žegrec, explained.

Another workshop, “The Battle for the Orange”, raised the students’ awareness of the importance of communication in conflicts and offered some strategies to conflict resolution. Teachers and students realized that it was important to clearly express their opinions and attitudes in order for other people to understand. They saw that nonviolence and peaceful conflict resolution create a good foundation for cooperation and goal achievement.

“It was interesting and fun and it was nice to listen to others and work in pairs and groups”, a 6th grade student said.

Pavica, a 1st grade teacher, was just as enthusiastic as the students:

“I am extremely happy with these workshops”, she said. “It gave me a lot of joy to observe motivated students who offered their opinions, discussed and reached group decisions”.

Active learning

The workshops were supplemented by the incorporation of active learning methods in other subjects as well. Depending on the students’ age, the teachers used debates, role-play or text summaries. When the students presented their work to the rest of the class, it helped build an atmosphere of trust and personal self-confidence.

“Low-achieving students participated more than usually, and we could feel that they were satisfied with their achievements, Ančica, a math teacher, said.

New knowledge

The project group is happy with the changes the workshops for the teachers and students brought about.

“Using active learning and teaching methods proved to be an easier and more interesting way of acquiring new knowledge. Students were happy to be asked about their opinion, to be given a choice but that brought about responsibility as well. By taking responsibility for decisions and actions they made, they began to strengthen their personality”, they stated in their final project report.

This project was implemented by a team who had participated at The South East Europe (SEE) Summer Academy ‘Human Rights in Action’ . The Academy offers training in education for democratic citizenship and human rights (EDC/HRE) to teams of school heads, teachers and representatives from the local community, such as parents or NGOs and is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Education and Science, Montenegro; the Bureau for Educational Services, Montenegro; the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Wergeland Centre (EWC). The Academy is part of a 3-year project “Learning Democracy and Human Rights", which is funded through a voluntary contribution from Norway and Andorra to the Council of Europe.

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