An initiative to introduce the Learning to Live Together manual in schools in Athens is being developed in collaboration with the Inter-Orthodox Center of the Church of Greece, under the leadership of Dr Angelos Vallianatos, National Advisor on Religion Lessons for the Greek Ministry of Education. The initiative aims to train teachers of primary, secondary and gymnasium levels on the use of the manual to be implemented as part of religious, physical, civic and general education courses in their different educational settings.
The first Learning to Live Together workshop was held from 13-16 September in the premises of the Inter-Orthodox Center with the participation of 24 teachers. During four days, the teachers engaged in several discussions about ethics, spirituality and interfaith and intercultural learning, and actively participated in practical activities using the learning approach and methodologies of the manual. Ample space was given for experiential learning and reflection as to allow teachers to develop facilitation skills to be used in their classrooms.
Greece is currently experiencing a financial crisis that is deeply affecting its education system, including students, education personnel and the quality of the education. Participants discussed the issues that affect Greece and the impact on children and youth and visualized ways in which ethics education could contribute to improve the situation. Even though it was agreed that there are structural issues that go beyond the education system’s and teachers’ capacity, ethics and the promotion of values of community, mutual respect, empathy and responsibility were highlighted as important tenants in helping children deal with the multiple effects of the crisis in their families, schools, community and on them as individuals. The increasing influx of refugees in the country also poses challenges to the education system, in this context ethics education was presented as an important tool to promote social cohesion and inclusion.
At the end of the workshop participants shared their plans to implement the manual in their classrooms. Some of the commitments included adaptation for kinder garden children, promotion of interreligious understanding and respect in secondary schools, use in physical education, and inclusion of the methodological approach for primary school classes. Participants also proposed ways to continue in touch, support each other and cooperate among schools.
The implementation of Learning to Live Together manual in one of the multicultural schools in Athens has been carried out since 2010 under the leadership of Dr Angeliki Aroni, Physical Education teacher and official trained trainer of the Learning to Live Together. A good practice booklet on the use of the manual in physical education is forthcoming, aiming at promoting the use of sports for social cohesion and peace building, and inspiring teachers around the world to use the manual in physical education activities.