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The Learning to Play Together Booklet is Turning Heads in Greece

Dr. Angeliki (Gelly) Aroni, Physical Education Teacher and Trainer of the Learning to Live Together Programme, presented the Learning to Play Together (LTPT) booklet as an effective approach to deal with violence in school at the colloquium on Participation and Solidarity in Education.

This high level event, which took place in Athens, Greece from 29 to 30 January 2016, was jointly organized by the Institute of Educational Policy of the Greek Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, and the Foundation of Youth and Family of the Holy Archbishop of Athens.

The colloquium is organized every year in the context of the Feast of the Three Hierarchs, a national day to commemorate education. This year, under the theme The Treatment of the Phenomena of Violence, it aimed to search for good practices, ideas and theories to tackle school violence. Participants included Mr. Nikos Filis, Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, school principals, school advisors and teachers.

During her presentation, Dr. Aroni showed how this program –which she developed in 2011- can help teachers introduce ethics and intercultural learnings into physical education. She explained that playing can provide children and youth an opportunity to learn about themselves in relation to others and practice non-violent conflict resolution, empathy and peaceful reconciliation. She stated that “when children become part of a team, the probability of becoming violent reduces drastically, because now they have a collective shared identity”.

The LTPT booklet has been implemented with fifth-grade students from the Elementary School of Intercultural Education in Faliro, Athens since 2011. This school has students from about 30 countries, representing 4 continents with a wide ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic diversity. Using the LTPT methodology, teachers have been able to form a collective identity of children that come from different backgrounds. “I have seen this throughout many years using the LTPL methodology in my Physical Education lessons. We have almost zero violence incidence in my school,” states Dr. Aroni.

She also explained how many times teachers forget that happiness and play is a big part of education: "…we are concentrated in the cognitive and intellectual side of children’s development and we forget about their emotional and ethical development. When children are happy and safe, then violence doesn’t have a place."

At the end of her presentation, the Institute of Youth and Family of the Holy Archbishop of Athens invited her to run a workshop of the LTPT for the leaders of their Youth Camp in the upcoming months.

We thank Dr. Aroni for her unwavering commitment to children’s education and multicultural peacebuilding.