Piloting the ESSR: How to Steer a Successful Pilot?February 11, 2019
Here we go
Piloting educational materials is quite a unique process – it always offers a thrilling mix of excitement and uncertainty. No matter how prepared or experienced one may feel, entering a classroom with new and provocative teaching materials and awaiting the honest reactions of young people and students is enough to keep anyone on her toes.
This is how our team at Sofia Platform and our partner teachers felt during ESSR’s first phase, between October – December 2018. We set off to work with a total of five classes in four cities around the country, and we presented the lesson plan with more than 100 students ages 15 -18 in both formal and informal classroom settings.
Our work with historical sources was of great interest to students, because of both its authenticity and the numerous accounts of events that it presented them with. Combining visual sources, personal testimonies, and official documentation served as a truly inclusive approach, reaching all corners of the classroom. As one of our teachers put it, through the tasks with sources ‘the most passive students participated in the group work and expressed their opinion. Compared to ordinary lessons, [the students] liked the dynamics […]. They liked to work in groups, because they did not know what the other group’s case was, and they were listening to it with interest.’
What it takes
The ESSR approach flowed equally well in the diverse regions and with the mix of private and public schools as well as youth groups. Each lesson naturally arrived at a fruitful, reflective discussion, which was always the lessons’ desired end destination. Normative and moral dimensions of individual rights and freedoms, questions of identity and belonging, and a number of bridges between history and contemporary developments were the building blocks of conclusions and analyses students arrived at. A proud teacher remarked that ‘The students showed empathy to the people whose fate they learned through the sources, and I felt proud because I saw how these children I have known for 3 years have become citizens’. Navigating through a complex and, at times, emotional historical period with the tools of the constructive approach has been a truly rewarding process for our team. Nevertheless, it is the merit of dedicated educators and the genuine curiosity of the students that are the main engines of the piloting process that allowed us to meet our new fellow citizens.