Picture: Participants discuss the Lesson Plan in small groups.
Learning to Disagree is slowly but steadily coming to an end. This project was initiated in response to the needs of educators who experience difficulties in addressing sensitive and controversial issues in their classrooms. The project offers workshops and support materials for teachers to face these controversial topics head-on in their classrooms.
This is of course bittersweet as the team has had a wonderful time working together over the past three years. However, this also means that we can finally share the learning activities with the wider EuroClio community. The sharing of the learning activities often happens during national teacher trainings, which would usually have people meet in person. Unfortunately, COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions to limit the spread of the disease, have made meeting people in person a little difficult. Nonetheless, we are happy to report that Zsolt Vódli, core member of the Learning to Disagree team and board member of the Hungarian History Teachers’ Association (Törtenelemtana’rok Egylete), managed to organise a national training in person on September 18, 2020.
The workshop was held at the University of Miskolc at the faculty of Arts and Humanities. 19 graduating teacher trainers, most of who majored in history, partook in the workshop that presented the learning activity Leaders in Times of Turmoil, created by Zsolt and Juraj Varga. This learning activity allows students to work in small groups and discuss provocative statements about decision made by leaders at the most pivotal times in history. Then, according to the Four Corner Teaching Strategy that is incorporated in the learning activity, students must decide whether they strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree with the statements and come to a shared understanding.
Thus, besides gaining a more in-depth understanding of the historical context in which these decisions were made, students will simultaneously develop a plethora of skills and abilities, such as: substantiating their opinion with relevant (historical) sources, eloquently and respectfully voicing their opinions to others, considering and valuing different viewpoints, critical thinking, and it goes without saying that they learn to disagree. These are all skills and abilities students will be able to enjoy long after leaving secondary education.
During the workshop Zsolt taught the teacher trainers that were present how they could foster and facilitate this process of learning for students, by illustrating and discussing how teachers could directly implement the lesson plan in their own classroom.
The participants found the content of the material very informative, as it provided a wide range of historical background knowledge. This was specifically considered valuable in the Hungarian context in which the workshop took place, as students in secondary schools do not learn much about the events of recent past, and in particular of events from other countries. The four-corner strategy was also received very positively as participants said the statements were provocative and generated interesting discussions and helped to improve critical thinking as well as debate tactics. Some of the participants said the activity could be supplementary material in secondary schools, as it was so well grounded in both history and civic education. We are happy to conclude that the workshop was a great success!
You might now wish you could have joined Zsotl’s workshop. And if you do, we have good news for you! While COVID-19 might prevent us from meeting face-to-face in most situations, it hasn’t stopped us from meeting online. You can join Zsolts’ workshop, which he will host with Juraj, online on November 16, at 16:30 at EuroClio’s Annual Conference! For more information on the workshop and how to register, please click here.
Besides registering for Zsolts’ workshop, do check out the other workshops that are part of EuroClio’s Annual Conference as well. EuroClio’s (first!) Online Annual Conference and Professional Development Training Course: Controversy and Disagreement in the Classroom will present 20 different workshops that will give you hands-on, ready-to- use lesson plans that will help you teach your students to articulate and substantiate their arguments in a debate.
To see the full, ambitious programme of our conference, please click here.
Can’t wait to use the learning activity? Check out the learning activity on Historiana here!