Issue 3

Published by:
Teachers of English Union of Thrace & Eastern Macedonia

ISSN: 2654-1564

Managing Editor:
Nelly Zafeiriadou
Teacher of English, MA, EdD, PhD candidate at DUTH,
Ex State School Advisor for English language Teaching of Thrace

Editorial Advisory Board
Angeliki N. Deligianni, Educational Advisor in Great Britan
Joseph E. Chryshochoos, Pedagogical Institute
Karin Boklund – Lagopoulou, Aristotle University
Anastasia Papakonstantinou, Athens University
Radmila Popovic, University of Belgrade
Marion Williams, University of Exeter

Editorial Board
Lia Gantidou
Alexandra Economou
Kostas Kostoudis
Maria Plytaria
Nelly Zafeiriadou

Art Director
Rodoula Paschalidou

Printed by:
Paratiritis Ltd

© BRIDGES – ISSUE 3 – May 2000

Περιεχόμενα Απόκρυψη

Angeliki Deligiani: Μediation: theoretical framework and functions

Angeliki Deligianni


    If we intend to enhance our approaches to teaching a foreign language we should not only reflect on practice but we should back up our teaching with a strong theory as well. One field that we can draw on for a rich body of knowledge of how people learn and how they can be helped to learn is psychology. One important contribution that psychology can make to informing our teaching practices, stems from the Social Interactionists’ view of learning.

    We shall discuss, here, the theory of Mediation and the concept of Mediated Learning Experience that arises principally from Social Interactionism, the recent school of thought in psychology. For them, the secret of effective learning lies in the nature of the relationship between two or more people. As this relationship is encouraged by communicative interaction, it stems that one of the teacher’s major responsibilities is to establish situations likely to promote communication.

    Social Interactionism combines humanistic and constructivistic notions but adds to this the notion of learning affected by social context. The basis of this approach is that learners exist in a social world and that learning takes place through interaction with other people who can help learners to make sense of their surrounding. From an interactionist view both first and second language acquisition involve many complicated interactions between the learners and other people.

    For Social Interactionists such as the Israeli Feuerstein, the American Bruner and the Russian psychologist Vygotsky, the secret of effective learning lies in the nature of social interaction between two or more people with different level of skills and knowledge. The role of the one with the most knowledge usually a parent or teacher, is to find ways of helping the other to move into and through the next layer of knowledge, skills and understanding which Vygotsky calls ZPD (the Zone of Proximal Development).    

    Neither Vygotsky nor Bruner have suggested ways of how to do this. For practical implications we have to turn to the Israeli psychologist Feuerstein who introduced a theory of cognitive development based on Social Interactionism which is operational.

    Feuerstein was a founder member of the State of Israel and worked with Jewish immigrant children entering the country from many different parts of the world, after the World War II. They appeared to be mentally retarded and incapable of learning at school because their traumatic experiences during the Holocaust severely impaired their ability to learn. Refusing to accept that they were really mentally retarded, with a group of co-workers, he devised ways of successfully providing these children with the necessary strategies, skills, concepts, language and vocabulary to become fully effective learners. Central to Feuerstein’ s interactionist theory of learning is the notion of Mediated Learning Experience (MLE).

    This is the experience provided by a significant adult, the mediator, at first the parent but later the teacher.The mediators select and organise stimuli that they consider most appropriate for the learner, shape them and present them in the ways considered most suitable to promote learning.They also intervene in shaping the learner’s early attempts at responding to the stimuli, by offering mental operations such as comparing and classifying for processing the stimuli. They direct and encourage more appropriate responses whilst explaining why one response is more useful or appropriate than another. The teacher as mediator is responsible for the cognitive, social and emotional development of the learner.

    It is clear that a positive relationship between the learner and the mediator is vital for mediation to take place. Feuerstein believes that through these processes the cognitive structure of the learner is affected. The ultimate goal for the learner is to become able to change/develop by himself without the need for mediators; in other words, to become independent. Since this theory has important implications for all school subjects it is very important for EFL teachers as well. The EFL teacher- as- mediator plays a crucial role in helping the learners with their learning and cognitive development and sees them as active participants in making sense of the tasks they encounter.

    There is a number of different ways in which the teacher can mediate. Feuerstein identified twelve ways in which mediation can take place. The first three are considered essential for all learning tasks. The other nine are important but may not be present in every teaching encounter.

    In this issue I shall describe them and suggest ways in which these aspects of mediation are developed in the EFL classroom. In the next BRIDGES issue I shall also provide some examples as illustrations of ways in which teachers might mediate not as any form of prescription, or as a cook book, how to do it. It is worthwhile noting here that once we are accustomed to mediation, experience shows that finding appropriate ways to mediate will pervade everything we do in our class and become an integral part of our day-to-day work.


    While presenting a task the teacher should convey clear instructions to learners to make his/her intention clear and then receive feedback from the learner that this intention is understood and reciprocated.The challenge for the EFL teacher is to find ways of conveying this intention through English language (the target language) as the language used for classroom instructions provides learners with valuable and realistic input of the language.

    Intention is conveyed through demonstration by actions, gestures, facial expressions, classroom displays, prepared visual aids, exciting starts to lessons.

    Reciprocity is achieved by having learners repeat instructions, or by using a demonstration group.TRANSCENDENCE

    The purpose of beyond the here and now. In Bruner’s words, the first object of any act of learning is that it should serve us in the future. Nothing is to be learnt for its own sake. The teacher needs to be aware of the more general learning value of a task and convey this to the learners.Her/his role is to make it clear to learners how and why the activity will produce learning that will be helpful in other fresh situations and other times and places.

    Tasks promoting life skills (thinking skills) which extend to real life issues or tasks leading to a better understanding of themselves through reflecting upon aspects of oneself are considered to be most appropriate.SIGNIFICANCE

    Any task must have personal meaning and value to the learners such as tasks transmitting the culture of the target language and the teacher should help learners to see the personal relevance and value of what they are doing. If the learners do not find personal value in a learning task, then it is unlikely to be successful.

    Feuerstein emphasizes the importance of transmission of culture from one generation to the next as a key element in making a task significant.COMPETENCE

    The teacher is often to blame for pupils’ feelings of incompetence, for fear of failure. Once the learners perceive themselves as incompetent it is difficult to change.Considering the fact that successful learners are those who feel competent and capable of learning it is important for the teacher to instill a positive but also realistic self-image, self-esteem, a feeling in learners of “I can” or “I am capable of doing this”.It is also important to establish a climate where confidence is built up, where mistakes can be made without fear, where learners can express themselves without embarrassment, where all contributions are valued.CONTROL OF BEHAVIOR

    However, a learner feels competent if he has acquired the necessary skills and strategies in order to take control of her/his own learning. The notion of learner training and language awareness is underpinned here.Learners need to be taught skills and strategies such as analysing new pieces of language, processing input in order to work out rules or ways of remembering new items of vocabulary.They also need to be aware of their own skills and strategies, and they need to be taught to take a logical and systematic approach to the task, not to act impulsively.

The following three mediation functions develop further the notion of control of learning behavior.GOAL SETTING

    The pupils need to learn to set themselves their own realistic goals and plan ways of achieving them. Through goal setting impulsive behavior which is linked with poor academic performance and is regarded by many as being one of the prime reasons for learning failure, tends to be restrained. They should also be taught to evaluate whether they have reached their goal and whether it was a realistic one. The EFL teacher should involve learners in these procedures.CHALLENGE

    Given particular subject matter, it is easy to ask trivial questions or to lead a child to ask trivial questions. It is also easy to ask impossibly difficult questions. The trick is to find the medium questions that can be answered and that take you somewhere (Bruner 1960:40).

    Responding to challenges is an internal need for the individual and so the importance of challenge in learning and life shouldn’t be ignored. The EFL teacher should provide tasks that stretch learners just enough by setting tasks that are sufficiently difficult to provide a challenge, but not too difficult that they are demotivating by selecting activities which provide suitable challenges for her/his particular age-range.AWARENESS OF CHANGE

    As part of learning to control their learning behavior it is important that the EFL teacher should develop in learners an ability to recognise, monitor and assess the changes in themselves. Learners evaluate themselves and they become aware of their own progress. This is a step towards learner’s autonomy and can be achieved through various techniques such as the progress card or the achievement chart.BELIEF IN POSITIVE OUTCOMES

    This aspect of mediation may be a precursor to the SENSE OF COMPETENCE in the sense that unless we believe that something is possible we cannot feel capable of doing it.This belief is strongly supported by the learning achievements recorded by Feuerstein, of people suffering from autism, Down’s syndrome and other physiological and emotional problems.

The implication for the EFL teacher is this:

    No matter how difficult it may appear for some people to learn English as a foreign language, everyone is capable of doing so. So long as we, the teachers, believe that our learners are capable of succeeding, that this is possible, we will find effective ways of helping them to succeed. This is related to the aspect of fostering a sense of competence.

    The following mediation functions are concerned with learning to become an individual and to belong to a community. They foster social development thus promoting a world of understanding interpersonal tolerance and peace.SHARING BEHAVIOR

    The EFL teacher should encourage co-operation among learners as a) this is a vital part of social existence, b) some problems are better solved cooperatively. Learners need to be taught the general principles for group work and reflect upon performance. Thus, they will hopefully develop their contribution as members of a group. If we, the teachers,view ourselves as educators preparing learners to contribute to a world where trust , mutual respect and cooperation are the norm ,then we must sow these seeds in our classroom now.

    This mediation function is carried out by setting up tasks in English where cooperation is essential such as information gap activities of personal meaning, group problem solving activities, shared group writing.INDIVIDUALITY   

    While learning to cooperate, learners need to become individuals and develop their own personalities. The EFL teacher needs to make it clear that what each child brings to the class is important , that they have a right to their own uniqueness..

    This can be achieved by encouraging the learners to express themselves through the target language, in oral or written activities such as using drama to express oneself, keeping a diary or a journal, using activities that require the expression of opinions, creative writing or class discussion.BELONGING

    As well as being an individual, a learner needs to feel that she/he belongs to a community or a culture. In an EFL classroom activities such as a class project or a class newspaper or group formation activities themselves foster the sense of belonging to a group as everyone has a contribution to make and no one is left out.


    It follows that if EFL teachers view themselves as mediators promoting the learning process through interaction and not as instructors transmitting information, mere language institution will be transformed into an educational experience aiming at the development of the whole person.

    Moreover this is what is expected to be achieved in state schools, in accordance with the commitments derived from the recent Educational Reform Act, with the emphasis on learning to learn and problem solving ability. In other words, students are intended to acquire and develop a wide range of social-intellectual skills and strategies through all school subjects included EFL. Thus they will eventually enjoy a totally different language learning experience which is going to be purely educational and will result into real knowledge.

    An an EFL State School Advisor, I developed a strong interest in the topic of mediation so I decided to investigate how teachers and students perceive the features of mediation and how often these mediation functions are carried out in the EFL State school classroom, in Northern Greece.

The results of this research were presented during

  • the 12th International Conference of Greek Applied Linguistics Association (GALA), at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, on the 12th December 1999 and
  • the 2000 International House London Teacher Training Conference, in London , on the 5th February 2000.

I shall also present these findings in one of the future BRIDGES issues, as they have interesting implications for the EFL teachers and the design of teacher education and teacher training courses.


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Bruner, J. S.1960. The process of Education.Cambridge, Mass.:Harvard University Press.

Bruner, J. S. 1966. Towards a Theory of Instruction. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Burden, R. L. 1978. Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment Programme:important issues in research and evaluation. European Journal of psychology of Education,Vol.2 no.1.

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Williams, M. & R.L. Burden. 1997. Psychology for Language Teachers. Cambridge: University Press.

Karin Boklund-Lagopoulou: Motivating the Young Learner

Karin Boklund-Lagopoulou

Opening remarks

Let me begin by saying what a pleasure it is for me to be back in the lovely city of Komotini, and to express my heartfelt thanks to the Teachers of English Union of Thrace and the State School Advisor for English, Mrs. Deligianni, for organising this Symposium and for inviting me to talk to you. In the middle of the academic year, and in the middle of winter, it often seems to me – and I suspect I am not alone in this – that life has been reduced to an endless round of grading exams and quizzes and essays, and getting up far too early in the morning to go out into another cold, gray, rainy day, to face a class of students who are as tired and bored with learning as I am with teaching them. And this is why we need an occasion like this, to meet with colleagues from different places, share experiences and get new ideas, think a bit about what we are doing and remember what teaching is really all about: the pleasure of mastering new skills and discovering new worlds, for teachers and learners alike.

For it is in fact a great pleasure to teach. I know it is supposed to be horribly dull and all that, but after many years I have come to the conclusion that I love teaching and I can’t stop doing it. Which is probably why I am here today. I really have no legitimate place here: I teach English literature at the university level, I have very little experience with language teaching and even less with primary- and secondary-school students. But apparently I can’t stop talking about teaching.

Approaches to reading

As I said, I teach English literature, and I suppose it would be a reasonable assumption for you to expect me to talk about literature: reading literary texts as part of foreign language teaching. Shakespeare in the foreign-language classroom, as it were. And of course, reading literature is one of the reasons we learn a foreign language. Once upon a time it was perhaps even the major reason. Once in the not-so-distant past, speaking a foreign language – at least, speaking certain specific foreign languages – was the mark of a cultivated person, just as an appreciation of art and music and a familiarity with the great works of literature – again, at least of certain literatures – was necessary if you were to be considered an educated man or woman. Of the proper class, that is. But as you know, foreign language learning is not today justified in terms of becoming a cultivated person, but rather in terms of acquiring the communicational skills necessary to survive in a competitive economic environment. A familiarity with literature hardly seems to be useful for economic survival. It may even be counter-productive: perhaps it tends to make one sentimental and old-fashioned and generally useless in a capitalist economy and a postmodern society.

This old-fashioned picture of the need for a literary education is quite attractive in its own way – somewhat like an old picture postcard, gone sepia brown and curling at the corners. But attractive as it may be, I am not going to argue in favour of this “cultural” model of the Educated Gentleman or Gentlewoman. Not because it is not valid on its own terms. I firmly believe that, today more than ever, it is essential for Europe – for the world as a whole – to possess a truly educated citizenry, not just people with “skills” but people with an education. It is necessary if we are to actually communicate with each other across linguistic and cultural borders, talk to each other and not just at each other. It is necessary because, no matter how perfect your English, if you have no concept of the values and principles which you share with other peoples – or, for that matter, of those so-called “values” which are unacceptable and inadmissible in a democratic society – then perfect grammar is not going to do you much good. Nobody would argue, I think, that the recent wars in the Balkans were caused by a lack of linguistic skills. Cross-cultural communication requires a lot more than grammar, syntax and vocabulary.

Nonetheless, I should like to make the case for reading in the foreign-language classroom not simply in terms of the need for an educated citizenry, important though that is. Partly, this is because the concept of what we mean by “literature” has changed a great deal in the last 30 years. There are scholars today who seriously advocate dispensing with the traditional concept of literature altogether: throwing the whole Norton Anthology of English Literature out the window as an outmoded, elitist, ideologically suspect body of texts.

Let me for a moment speak a little about what has happened in literary theory over the last 25-30 years or so. When I was a student in the United States, in the late 1960’s, we all knew perfectly well what Literature was: it was a set of sublimely beautiful texts. These texts were usually neatly collected for us in anthologies (the Norton Anthology of English Literature, for example) or in series of “Great Authors” published by well-known publishing houses. When we were asked to write about a Literary Text, we knew what was expected of us: not an account of the life of the author, not a discussion of the historical period in which he wrote (it was almost always a “he”, incidentally), and not a plot summary. We were expected to do a “close reading” of the text, paying attention to the technique of the author, the aesthetic effects produced by the combination of words. The question was not actually what the text made us feel, but how it made us feel that way. But of course you had to be sensitive to aesthetic technique in order to be able to identify and analyse it. The Literary Text was sacrosanct, because it was Art: our job was to listen to it with reverence, and write about it with admiration.

Then came the Structuralists and ruined everything. The Structuralists actually questioned whether there was such a thing as Art. They set about analysing, in a style bristling with technical terms and concepts borrowed from – oh horror! – linguistics, most any kind of text they could get their hands on: newspapers, advertising, murder mysteries, detective novels, comic books, folktales, American Indian myths, cinema, football games – you name it, they did it. We were shocked. And the most shocking thing was that you needed much the same sensitivity and skill in analysing these vulgar products of popular culture as you did to understand the sacred texts of Literature.

After the Structuralists things got even worse. Psychoanalysis, deconstruction, feminism, new historicism, postmodernism all treat literary texts with blank indifference to their status as High Art. Literary texts are now routinely analysed in close relation to all kinds of un-literary documents, from television newscasts to Renaissance political propaganda, and are regularly found to be the oppressive, sexist tools of a reactionary status quo.

This does not mean that we will stop studying literature. If nothing else, some texts are oppressive and sexist in more interesting ways than others. But it does mean that we have developed new models of what it means to read, new attitudes to literature, and a much wider concept of what can legitimately be the object of literary study. And that is good news for the foreign-language classroom. Shakespeare is not the only option.

I would like to focus briefly on one of the most influential and productive theories of literature current today, namely Reception Theory (or Reader-Response Theory as it is sometimes known in English-speaking countries). Reception Theory starts from the rather elementary observation that a “text” exists, in itself, only as a set of little black marks on white paper. It is only the act of reading the text that gives those little black marks meaning. And that means that it is only in the mind of a reader that the text becomes a meaningful entity.

Literary theory has thus finally noticed the reader, after a full century of studiously ignoring him (or her). And the reader has recently become empowered, in literary theory, to read and make sense of what he reads, to interpret and misinterpret and re-interpret and to play all kinds of games with the text. But as soon as one notices that a text acquires meaning only in the mind of a reader, it becomes obvious that what the text will mean depends largely on what the reader brings to the reading experience. Interpretation is an activity: you have to work at it. To put it bluntly, if the reader is not interested, the text will mean nothing to him. Which brings us to the issue of motivation.

There is one more corollary of this proposition that the text acquires meaning only in the mind of a reader, and that is that there are different kinds of readers. I mean not only that there are individual differences between readers, though this is certainly true. I mean that readers come in various groups, different sizes, shapes, colours. It was in fact the feminists who pointed this out. The feminists began by wondering why there were so many male authors and so few female ones in the literary anthologies. Then they started asking whether the literary texts written by men were not also perhaps written for male readers. One feminist critic in particular, Patrocinio Schweickart, wrote an extremely interesting essay arguing that women are being trained to read as men, because the major literary texts are all written in such a way that the reader is systematically encouraged to see things from a male point of view. There would be nothing wrong with this, of course, if there were also an number of texts written by women writers, in which the reader was systematically made to see the world from a woman’s point of view. But the anthologies don’t include many women. Schweickart recommended that women readers read male texts while resisting the point of view of the text, refusing to be “im-masculated”, as she calls it.

But gender differences are only one kind of difference between readers. I said that readers come in different colours, sizes, shapes – to put it in more operational terms, different races, nationalities, ethnic groups, and age groups, in addition to genders. Many of these groups are represented in your foreign-language classroom. And – as has been pointed out by both Feminism and Cultural Theory – depending on what group (or groups) they belong to, readers experience texts differently – the text means different things to them. Which means that we cannot expect the same text to appeal to all readers, not even in teaching a foreign language.

Clearly, most of what I have been saying here concerning literary theory does not apply only, or even primarily, to teaching a foreign language. It is just as significant for the teaching of literature in the students’ native language. In a very fundamental way, any reading depends on motivation, and motivation depends on the reader. Actually, it could be argued that the foreign-language teacher has a small advantage here: motivational difficulties are built into foreign language teaching, and we are familiar with them. Children learn their native language largely because they must do so in order to survive: if they cannot communicate in their everyday environment, they are at a very serious disadvantage which rapidly becomes obvious even to the children themselves. But the need to communicate in a foreign language is not immediately obvious to students, and we thus have to invent a whole series of motivational tricks, as poor substitutes for the need to survive in that environment of native speakers that we, as teachers of a foreign language, do not have available. Discovering motivations for reading is thus a kind of extension of the motivational work that a good language teacher does anyway, all the time.

Reading in school

What motivates a child or a teenager to read? In a society which is becoming more and more image-oriented rather than text-oriented, this question is growing increasingly more urgent, and not just in foreign-language teaching. Reading is, of course, a central component of the teaching of Greek in both primary and secondary school. Can we in foreign-language teaching borrow the sort of motivation to read that teachers rely on when teaching children their native language?

Over the years I have, as the mother of a school-age child, conducted a little investigation of my own into the school textbooks of reading, and for me at least the results have been disappointing. Most current approaches to reading in the Greek primary and secondary schools are didactic in an extremely traditional sense: students are not taught to read literature, but are taught about literature. No one seems to have entertained the thought of encouraging students to read for pleasure. The texts in the language textbooks are used largely as an excuse for grammar exercises, and those selected for the literary anthologies are supposed mainly to “teach” the children things about their national heritage, about their history, about their national identity. Their heritage, history, and identity are defined, incidentally, exclusively in terms of Greek ethnicity and Orthodox religion: for better or worse, if the child happens not to be ethnically Greek or happens to be of another religious faith, the message that he or she (and his classmates) will get from these reading selections is very likely to be: you do not belong, you are not one of us. That is an issue which lies outside the scope of today’s topic. It is clear, though, that having your national heritage and history, however glorious, shoved at you every time you open the anthology is not designed to increase readers’ motivation to read. The students know perfectly well that they are supposed to learn something from the text, and being told that you have to learn something from a text is virtually certain to kill any pleasure you might have gotten from the reading experience.

When the school textbooks try an approach to literature not overtly and moralistically didactic, that approach is almost always a formalist, text-oriented approach, based on the same assumptions current in my own student years about Literature as High Art and reading as a reverential sensitivity to aesthetic effects and technique. Now, I am all in favour of the cultivation of aesthetic sensitivity; it is a wonderful thing and a source of great and lasting enjoyment when you have acquired it. But unless this cultivation is done by an absolutely inspired teacher, I do not think that it is a very useful way to start students on the road to reading. I would even venture to suggest that only when students have learned to enjoy reading as such, will they start asking questions about how that pleasure is produced.

The upshot is that the school system essentially tends to rely on examinations and grades to motivate students to read. You can judge the effectiveness of this by remembering your own years at university. You arrived, a new first-year student, from twelve years of a primary-school and secondary-school system in which you were expected to be ready to “perform” all the time: there were very specific daily assignments, the execution of which was checked systematically by the teachers, and you could be examined at any time on the day’s lesson. After a very short time at university, you realized no one was going to test you on a daily basis to make sure you prepared for class. And then, like the other 99% of the students in the class, you probably forgot about doing the assignments entirely until about a month before the exams. Whereupon you tried to learn all the material of the semester in three weeks, cramming for the exams. What I want to point out is that grades and exams work as motivation on a very short-term basis. This is even more true of younger learners. Try to persuade a twelve-year-old that he should study for the math test which is two weeks from now – or two days from now. Up to their last years in school, children live one day at a time. No exam ever becomes an operational motivation to learn until the day before the exam.

If you want to use grades and exams as motivational elements with younger learners, as you know, you must examine them virtually on a daily basis. And even this will, after a while, be of limited value: they simply grow immune to the threat of quizzes and tests.

Tests and exams are possibly even less satisfactory as a motive for reading than they are as a motive for learning grammar drills or vocabulary. It is difficult to convince a young student to struggle through the pages of a book because he or she is going to be examined on it. The likely result is that they will discover dozens of supposedly easier ways of acquiring the information needed for the test without reading the book: asking another student to give them a plot summary, for instance.

In fact, if you think back to your own school years, you can probably remember a much more effective motivational principle. Did you have a favourite teacher? Or was there some teacher that you really disliked? Do you remember studying to please your favourite teacher? And how your grades fell in, say, physics and math one year because the teacher was so boring – or you just plain disliked him (or her)? Especially very young children study largely to please the teacher. In primary school you can rely rather extensively on this personal relationship with your students, and even in secondary school it accounts for a surprisingly large difference in the performance of pupils.

The corollary, of course, is that you have to maintain the personal relationship. If a child has studied to please you, that effort must be recognized and rewarded. This is easy enough if the results are good grades, but the reward is not so obvious for those children who do not learn as easily or as quickly as the rest of their classmates. If you fail to perceive that they also are trying to please you, if you fail to recognize their efforts (and they may in fact be trying much harder than the other kids, even if the results are not very impressive), then they will soon become disappointed and stop trying. But that is also not really part of today’s topic.

Motivating the reader

So, if the currently used approaches to reading in the schools are not very encouraging, what else can we do? As a first approach to this problem, I did a little field work in preparation for my talk here: I asked my thirteen-year-old daughter Katerina what she thought might get her and her friends interested in reading books in a foreign language.

My daughter responded at once (you have very strong opinions when you are thirteen) and provided me with two pages of written notes on the subject. This is what she wrote:

Πιστεύω ότι είναι δύσκολο να κάνεις ένα μαθητή να στρίψει το κεφάλι του στο διάβασμα, σε ό,τι γλώσσα και να είναι αυτό, και τόσο το περισσότερο άμα είναι ξένη γλώσσα, διότι πρέπει να καταναλώσει περισσότερη ώρα και προσπάθεια.

Για να καταφέρεις κάτι τέτοιο πρέπει να ενθαρρύνεις τον μαθητή και να του δίνεις όλο και πιο νεανικό υλικό.

Με νεανικό υλικό εννοώ κάτι που να είναι στην εποχή του μαθητή, για να μπορεί να το καταλάβει και να του κεντρίσει το ενδιαφέρον. Π.χ., για θηλυκό, κάτι για το σωστό βάψιμο και ντύσιμο. Για αρσενικό, κάτι για το πώς βάφουμε με σπρέι στους τοίχους. Έτσι θα τους αρέσει και θα προσπαθήσουν όλο και περισσότερο.

Με το να ενθαρρύνεις τον μαθητή εννοώ να του δείχνεις ότι θα του δώσεις κι σύ κάτι, ή ότι σου αρέσουν αυτά που λέει. Τότε ο ίδιος θα προσπαθήσει να σου το ανταποδώσει με το να δώσει σημασία στο διάβασμα

Katerina is making several interesting points here. Let us take them in succession:

  1. Reading is generally not popular with young people, and reading in a foreign language is more difficult. The student needs to make a greater effort and it takes more time.
  2. Students will make the extra effort required if the reading material is sufficiently interesting to them. What interests students today is “contemporary” material. But boys and girls are not likely to be interested in the same things.
  3. The teacher can encourage students in their reading by giving them something in return, or by showing them that you are interested in what they have to say.

Point 1: Reading in a foreign language is difficult

First point: reading in a foreign language is difficult. The reading material has to be accessible at the stage of language learning of the students. This is the problem which the graded reader is designed to address. But bear in mind when you select reading material that not all students in your class have reached the same level of mastery of the foreign language. Make available a range of texts, from very easy to more difficult.

Because reading in a foreign language is more difficult, students need more time, but they also get tired more easily. If reading is an in-class activity, plan it for relatively short periods of time and plan other activites for the rest of the lesson.

Especially when dealing with primary school pupils, remember that there will be some students in your class who have difficulties with reading as such, not just with the foreign language. It is estimated that about 10% of all students in schools (that means 2-3 pupils in every class) suffer from some variety of learning disability or dyslexia, and this is often undiagnosed, so that neither the students nor the teacher are aware of the problem. Such students are often quite intelligent and may with encouragement do well orally, but they perform poorly on written tests. They often read – in any language – at a lower level than expected for their age.

Point 2: The material must be interesting

Second point: Students will make the extra effort to read in a foreign language if the material is interesting. This is the key point. But what is interesting to them?

Remember the feminist critique of Reception Theory: Readers are different, but there are groups of readers. What groups? Clearly, what is likely to be interesting to a reader depends on the reader’s age as much as it depends on gender. Younger children have different interests from teenagers, and boys have different interests from girls. There may, however, also be other factors – cultural or religious factors, for example. And finally, there are purely individual differences. You may like detective stories, while I adore historical romances.

It is thus important to provide some choice of reading material for the students. The mere fact of choosing from a selection of books increases motivation, since the student takes on a part of the responsibity for what he or she will read. Why not ask your class what kinds of stories they are interested in? Make it the subject of a class discussion (as oral practice), and then follow up with something concrete. You can make up a questionnaire in English for them to fill out, or ask them to write you a note (in English) about what sorts of things they would like to read. Or have them bring a favourite book (in any language) to class and tell the other students about it (in English).

This will give you a reasonable idea of where the interests of your class lie. You can then select a list of books to match their interests from among the many graded readers which are available. A word of advice: avoid books that are “educational”. Try hard not to make the selection didactic, not to “teach” the students anything through their reading. Remember, it is essential to the success of this experiment that the reading experience should be as pleasurable as possible, and that usually means material that is fun, contemporary, young. In my experience, one should not depend too much on the literary classics at this stage. Even if you once read and loved Ivanhoe, your class will probably prefer something more modern.

Make your selection available to the students as a little class library, and let them choose a book themselves. The books for a smalll class library are not an expensive investment. Your school may be willing to purchase some material of this sort, or the parent’s union may donate some funds. One teacher that I heard about from a colleague asked every student at the beginning of the year to buy one book from her list and contribute it to the library. Then all the students in the class had access to 25-30 books throughout the year.

For really stubborn cases, the ones who declare in a blase tone of voice that they aren’t interested in reading anything, try an underhanded approach. These are presumably not passionate readers, so instead of asking what they would like to read, ask what their other interests are: music, motorcycles and cars, sports, film stars, fashion and makeup, computers, photography,or whatever. There are dozens of weekly and monthly foreign-language magazines devoted to all of these topics. Have them bring in their own, or purchase some as part of your class library. If worse comes to worse, try Mickey Mouse, Peanuts, Superman and Batman. The students will mostly look at the pictures, but it’s a start. There are also more serious magazines available, Time, NewsweekNational Geographic, The Wall Street Journal (this might be a useful argument if school authorities or parents object to your spending money on magazines). The lyrics to pop music can make quite interesting poetry, and listening to a CD or tape to figure out the words to a song is a useful exercise in listening comprehension for a bored teenager.

Once you have assembled your in-class library, why not enlist the help of your class on how to arrange the material? What do they feel would be the most interesting and useful way to arrange the books? by level of difficulty? by topic? into fiction and non-fiction categories? This could again be a topic for in-class discussion (and thus oral language practice).

When the library is ready, let the students browse through the material, a few at a time, while the rest of the class does something relatively quiet, such as a written exercise. Let them choose their own book and “borrow” it, checking it out in their own name. A piece of cardboard with their name on it in the book lets everyone know who has borrowed that book, and can also serve as place marker. They might enjoy taking turns at being the librarian, passing out these “bookmarks” or library cards and noting down the book title and the borrower’s name.

If you want them to do their reading in class, I would suggest planning reading as an individual activity for 15-minute stretches, frequently but not necessarily during every lesson, over several months or the whole semester. Don’t let the activity get boring or routine, and don’t wait until the class is restless to start something new. Ideally, the reading periods should not be so far apart that the students forget what they read last time, and should be long enough for them to make progress with the book but short enough to leave them wanting more.

In a Swedish school, I saw a reading programme something like this applied to native-language teaching of reading skills in the second grade. The teacher had divided the students into groups on the basis of their varying levels of reading skill. She then suggested to each group two or three books appropriate for their level, and the group decided on one of these, of which there were multiple copies so that every member of the group could have one. Once or twice a week the class divided into reading groups: the students in each group pulled chairs and desks into a little circle and sat facing each other. They then took turns reading aloud a paragraph from the book. The students who were not reading aloud would follow along in the book in front of them, so that they would know where to start when their turn came. If they didn’t pay attention, the group tended to pull them back into line, since their behaviour was disrupting to the other students. The whole process lasted for about twenty minutes, then the books were collected and returned to the library shelves at the back of the classroom, the desks pushed back into place, and the teacher went on with some other activity.

Older students can be allowed to take library books home, though you should expect some lost and damaged books as a result. I would recommend that books be borrowed for short periods, perrhaps no more than a week. Longer than that, they tend to be forgotten.

The class library should include a dictionary or two. Encourage students to guess at meaning from context as they read, but if you rely on their interest to get them to read, they will occasionally want to know the exact meaning of what they are reading and will need to look something up.

Point 3: Be interested in what they have to say

Third point: If you want to encourage students to read, give them something in return. On the simplest level, this is a grade. Reading should count for something, should be a part of the language-learning activity. I am not sure that reading as such should be evaluated, but I am sure that it should be rewarded.

But what you give students in return need not necessarily be a grade. It can also be your interest and attention, or the interest and attention of their classmates. So instead of requiring a traditional book report as proof that the students have read the book, try asking them to express their opinion about the book.

Of course, this can be done as a written assignment, a short essay. But it can also be done in other ways, alternative or complementary to the traditional written report. Why not take advantage of the powerful urge of children to communicate with each other? If they liked the book, they might want to tell other students about it, and if they disliked it, they might want to warn other students not to borrow it. One primary school teacher I have heard of asks each student who has finished a book to stand up in front of the class and answer questions about the book from his or her class-mates. This means, incidentally, that students should have a chance to read more than one book: they should be given the opportunity to act on what their classmates suggested, and for their own opinions about a book to be taken seriously by their classmates. After everyone has read two or three selections, a more general discussion becomes possible: which book did you like best, and why?

One obvious thing to do as a follow-up of reading activity would thus be related oral activities. But written follow-up activities are perfectly possible as well. If an essay assignment seems a bit dull or too advanced, consider asking students to write a very brief “book review” of the book, and leave it inside the book for the next reader, or pin it up on the wall for everybody to read. Even beginners could do this as a fill-in-the-blanks exercise (I liked this book / I did not like this book. The story was exciting / boring. It is about a boy / a girl / people / animals. The story takes place in a city / a village / on the sea. The thing I liked best was ____. I didn’t like ____. This book is good reading for girls / boys, and so on). More advanced learners can write their own comments. Everybody has to sign the book review with their name – one should take responsibility for one’s opinions.

Correct grammar is less important in this exercise than expression. Let them make a few mistakes, or point out discreetly on an individual basis that this plural is missing an -s. Nobody is going to like having the whole class see their language mistakes corrected in bright red ink. On the other hand, it might occur to some students that language mistakes actually make communication more difficult, and thus that you have to pay some attention to grammar if you want other people to understand you.

At the end of the term, you can do a survey. Design a questionnaire together with your class. When they have all filled out the questionnaire, they can together work up a report on the results. This can be done as group work: each group studies the questionnaire results from a different point of view, f.ex. what types of books were most popular? Which books were most popular with the girls, and which with the boys? Were the easier books more popular than the more difficult ones? Then each group writes a short paragraph describing the results they have been analysing, and you can post the paragraphs on the bulletin board, or put them together into a complete report and photocopy it for the whole class.

Vary the activities in connection with reading. There is nothing that says that you have to do things the same way all the time. Oral and written activities, in-class activities and home assignments, can be combined in different ways throughout the year.

Wider horizons

Let me conclude this talk by coming back to something I said in the beginning. What about traditional literature, what about High Art? Shakespeare in the foreign language classroom? Well. It is in fact possible to do even Shakespeare in the foreign-language classroom, if you yourself are sufficiently interested.

When you teach, an essential part – perhaps the most essential part – of what you communicate is your own love for your subject. You may not be passionately interested in the present continuous tense in English, but if you are to have any success at all as a teacher, you have to be passionately interested in something about what you are doing. You can be passionately interested in the psychology of children, or in education in general, or in the European Union, or in cross-cultural communication. But if you are not interested in some aspect of what you are teaching, you can scarcely expect your students to be interested. Students are extremely sensitive to their teacher’s attitude to the class. If you are bored, you will be boring, and they will not forgive you.

So, if you are passionately interested in Shakespeare, by all means try introducing a little Shakespeare somewhere. It need not be a whole play. You can select a scene, go over it carefully in class, and then try staging it, having some students act it out for the rest of the class. If you demonstrate that you love this text, the students will at least give you the benefit of the doubt for a few days.

I also want to put in a word for poetry in the classroom. With very young children, try some nursery rhymes. They are fun to do, easy to memorise, and a good break for short attention spans. Even better are dance songs and game songs. These are nursery rhymes meant to be sung and acted out with movements and gestures, and they are great as a break from more concentrated, sitting-still activities. There are recordings available on tape, though you will have to do some singing yourself if you expect the children to learn songs. Older kids go for rock and song lyrics. Ask them to bring in their own favourites, and then ask them to explain why they like that song.

One final point. This is a symposium about reading, but we are living in a an image-oriented culture rather than a text-oriented one. Your students watch television and cinema and video much more than they read. Instead of simply bemoaning this terrible state of affaires, which none of us can do anything about, I would like to suggest that these media can also be used for reading: for reading about. You can read articles about the Titanic, reviews of the film, interviews with the actors or the director. You can watch Romeo and Juliet or Shakespeare in Love on video, and then work on reading a scene from the play. Or choose a film version of a novel, which may even be available as a graded reader.

Using this sort of material in the classroom is more demanding, not so much on the students but on the teacher. It requires more of a commitment from the teacher, since the material is not prepared ready-made for language teaching. It requires a lot of imagination and enthusiasm and experimentation. You wouldn’t want to do it every day. But then, that’s where the passion comes in.

* Karin Boklund-Lagopoulou is Professor of English Literature in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Karin Boklund-Lagopoulou is Professor of English Literature in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Luke Prodromou: The Importance of Being. … a Good Reader

Luke Prodromou

    This article argues that reading for pleasure is the single most important technique in the learning of foreign languages in an EFL situation – a context in other words where English is not widely spoken in the community. Greece is an EFL context, as are Italy and Spain. Given that native speakers are not abundant and available for our students to practise their speaking skills on, reading assumes even greater importance than its intrinsic usefulness. There is more to reading than meets the eye. Some researchers believe that extensive reading for pleasure can have a positive knock-on effect on other skills, apart from reading itself.

    My own experience testifies to the power of reading. When I was growing up in the UK I failed my 11 + examination (an aptitude test) and attended a school for educational failures (who in some cases were being trained for failure in life, too). At the age of 12 I read my first book. It was the Secret Seven, by Enid Blyton. I don’t know whether this literary revelation had anything to do with the fact that thereafter I was always the best student in the class at English. In my fifth year in the educational dustbin, I moved to a grammar school where children were groomed for University. Since then, I have graduated from three British Universities; I have written twenty books of my own and last year read twenty books in Spanish (albeit simplified in some cases). How much was my first Secret Seven the catalyst for this sea-change into something rich and strange ?


    Here is a task for raising your students’ awareness of the role of reading in their lives. It involves the students in guessing their partner’s reading habits and then speaking to them to check whether the guesses were right or wrong.


Guess the following about your partner :

1 He/She read her first book when he/she was ________ years old

2 Last year, my partner read ________ books in a foreign language

3 My partner’s favourite kind of book is ______________

4 My partner likes / dislikes reading in public places.

5 My partner never / often / sometimes reads in bed

6 My partner uses readers a lot / a little / never with her classes

7 My partner’s favourite novel in English / her mother tongue is ___________


What is reading ?

Here is a brief definition of some of the processes which good reading involves :

1 decoding : making sense of the signs on the page

2 predicting : using your existing knowledge to anticipate what is likely to come later in the text

3 interpreting the text : reading between the words and between the lines to get at the underlying meaning of the text or the intention of the writer

4 interacting with the text : bringing to bear your own culture and personal mind-set to the text, to enable to you to relate to your interests and your own world

5 response : what you do with the text in practical terms – do you write a letter, a summary / Do you tell someone about it ? Do you make plans as a result of reading it ? etc?



    The next task is designed to raise your awareness of how you approach reading and whether you draw on the most efficient reading strategies.

Are you a good reader ?

When I read……


1 I keep the meaning of the passage in mind

2 I read phrases not words

3 Skip words that don’t affect my understanding

4 Examine illustrations

5 Predict from the title

6 Identify the grammar

7 Use the dictionary

8 Underline things

9 Draw pictures in the margin

10 Write notes in the margin

11 Make note of phrases I like

12 Use a highlighter


    Note that all of the techniques above and others not mentioned can promote better reading; it all depends on the individual and their personal learning style. The important thing is to find the style you are comfortable with and which produces results, for you !

EFL versus ESL

    I would now like to return to the question of the constraints of learning English in an environment where the language is not used in the community. This ‘handicap’ may turn out to have some advantages, if the research I will now go on to report has any validity.

The defining features of an EFL situation as opposed to an ESL situation are :

1 Students in an EFL situation lack opportunities for using the language

2 Teachers are often not native speakers

3 Students are in general not seeking to become part of another culture (compare many immigrants to the USA, Australia or Britain

4 There is little time for instruction – the exposure students get to the language in the classroom is limited to a few hours a week.

Research into the power of reading

    In this section I summarise some of the main points emerging from research into extensive reading for pleasure (see bibliography for sources). The research referred to here introduced extensive reading in some schools, with some students and compared their progress with those students who were not part of such a programme. Here are the main conclusions :

1 Comprehension is the key for acquiring language

2 Successful understanding of texts gives learners enormous psychological encouragement. A sense of achievement.

3 Readers read more if their reading is pleasurable.

4 There is impressive evidence that Pleasure Reading or Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) has a powerful effect on the development of literacy-related aspects of language.

5 ..the most striking finding is the spread of the effect from reading competence to other language skills – writing, speaking and control over syntax

6 The ‘PASSES’ Project Singapore : reading for 20 minutes a day into 40 (‘weak’) schools and a longer period once a week. After five years examination pass rates were higher than national average (in skills, error awareness)

7 extra-curricular reading is a strong predictor of TOEFL scores

8 FVR is comprehensible input …those who report doing more FVR outside the classroom show superior literacy development and those who participate in in-school reading programmes, such as Sustained Silent Reading outperform traditionally taught students (Krashen, 1993)

9 FVR is an important bridge to the acquisition of more complex language.

10 Beginners can profit from texts especially prepared for their level …for more advanced learners we need to find authentic texts that are both interesting and comprehensible

11 FVR can make some contributions to conversational ability. Many novels contain a substantial amount of conversational language.

12 All this leads to a library of print and aural comprehensible input.

13 For the price of one computer, consider how many paperback novels one could buy for an EFL library

14 Students need not be tested on what they read

15 Reading material should be so interesting that students will want to read…

16 WE acquire vocabulary far more efficiently and quickly through understanding the message and building meaning gradually


Simplified readers

    I mentioned above that my main strategy for trying to acquire a foreign language (Spanish) in the last four years has been reading. I began with level 1 and worked my way up to level 5 and then when I was ready started reading novels in the original. Isabel Allende in this respect was a fine teacher, wonderfully comprehensible and memorable. Allende was a good companion – her stories had exciting plots, vivid characters and passion. I have just finished reading Marquez’ Love in a Time Of Cholera and can recommend it. I read it in Spanish and when I wasn’t holding the book upside down I think I understood most of it.

    I now insist that my classes read simplified texts both individually and as a class. Turning to what makes good simplified readers in English, we can say :

A good ‘simplified reader’ is :

-controlled so that there are not many unknown words. The new words are usually explained in the text or used repeatedly.

-has ‘selected’ structures – the structures are similar to the ones in the coursebook

-has ‘restricted’ information, so it does not prove an obstacle to understanding

-has a good plot or subject which will motivate the learner to keep reading

    If we want to encourage students to make the most of extensive reading for pleasure there are two general approaches :

1 an individual reading programme in which students take books from a class or school library and read them on their own

2 when the class all read the same book, discuss it, write about it, act it out etc

I shall now focus on what we can do in practical terms to make reading possible and useful in the EFL class.

Motivating Students to do it

    To encourage students to actually get on with the extensive reading I set them, I have a general principle and that is to connect outside class reading with classroom activities. For example, when some of them have read a book or an article form a magazine or newspaper and written me a few lines about it, I use this information in a questionnaire which the students do in class. The questionnaire is a variation of the speaking activity called ‘Find Someone Who..’ and it looks something like this :



1 has read an article about women with small feet


2 has read an article about meningitis


3 has read an article about NATO in Time magazine


4 has read a magazine article about the world’s disasters


5 has read an article about a new film called You’ve got mail


6 has read an article about Greek culture in Britain


7 has read an article about the Blue Planet


8 has finished reading a Man for all Seasons


Find out more by asking – ‘where ‘ ‘why’ ‘what’ ‘when’ questions


The procedure is simple

Students ask people in the class questions to find out what they have read recently.


2 A whole class reading programme – all students read the same book


With a whole class reader we can do some of the following things.

1 Before reading

Prediction activities from :

1 The cover – the students predict the content ( orally, or by jotting down notes)

2 The pictures in the book (by matching the chapter title with the pictures)

3 The chapter titles (predicting the plot of each chapter and the characters)

2 After reading

1 Students write notes on a diagram based on the characters in the book

2 Students match the characters with appropriate adjectives

3 Students look at the pictures and write a dialogue betwen the characters shown in the [pictures based on their knowledge of the book

4 Students role play an interview the characters; they write letters as if written by a character; they write about the the past (before the story) or the future (when the story is over)


    Let me pause at this point to remind the reader of how important memory is when learning Anything but particularly a foreign language with its stream of new vocabulary.

    Research says that roughly speaking we remember a text we have read more if we involve more senses, more intelligences, more activities.

    If we read a text only, we remember about 10% of certain information; if we read with pictures, the amount of recall goes up to 20%; if we read with pictures and listen to a text as well, the amount we remember tends to go up 40%. If we read with pictures, sound and also engage in activity connected with the text (say, a game or role play activity) the quantity of items remembered goes up to about 70%. I am not sure where I came across this information and I am not sure how empirically reliable it is. What we can say is that the general tendency in reading is to highlight the importance of variety of input and activity. This is common sense. The more effort we put into reading and the more varied that effort is the more we should get out of it. Above all, the more pleasurable the process of reading is the better. One point we can make about reading and listening to the text at the same time is that it encourages faster reading. It is said that eye movement is more rapid because it is forced to follow the speed of the person reading aloud or reading on the tape. If this is true, then the audio version of books is a welcome development. Certainly, the audio recording can be used either while reading the book or for reinforcement later, while we are driving, cooking or trying to get to sleep.

Teaching Reading

    Here is a summary of some well-known techniques for teaching reading. The reader can use it as a checklist or as an awareness raising activity – how many of these techniques for teaching extensive reading for pleasure do you already use ? Which would you like to use to improve your students’ reading skills ?

1 Predicting from Titles

2 Predicting from Pictures

3 Predicting from Key sentences

4 Predicting from Word lists

5 Finding Synonyms

6 Filling Blanks

7 Scanning for specific information

8 Reading and completing a table, pictures, diagrams

9 Comparing pictures with the text

10 Pre-questions

11 Jig-saw reading

12 Comparing information you hear with information you read

13 Matching pictures with parts of text

14 Putting jumbled sentences and paragraphs into the correct order

15 Numbering jumbled words according to text

16 Completing word-fields based on the text

17 Skimming

18 Cohesive features – what does X refer to ?

19 Write your own questions and read the book to find the answers

20 Drawing pictures in the margin as you read

21 Start reading by listening to the first page and guessing the next part

22 Listening to the audio version of book if there is one

23 Hollywood – what film stars would you choose

to play the characters ?

24 Students role-play characters

25 Giving the book, chapters new titles.

26 DEAR (Drop Everything and Read)

26 Making up a new ending to the story

27 Adding a chapter to the book

28 Finding a text to act as caption for the pictures

29 Making up captions for the pictures

30 Role-playing an interview with author

31 Copying beginnings and endings from different books – students

mingle and match

32 Skimming the whole book – tell your partner the gist

33 Jumbling sentences from different books – sort them out

34 Practise what you preach ! The teacher reads a good book at the same time as the class read

35 Reading the blurb, and writing questions about the books supposed contents

36 Writing a new blurb for the book after you have read it.

(Acknowledgment : the list above and the inspiration for this article comes from the work of Philip Prowse, who is the editor of a new series of readers from CUP)


Writing about a book

    If we ask students to write about the book they are reading (especially if it is aset text for an examination) they will need some linguistic tools with which to do this. Here are some examples :

Useful expressions

a book called it was written it is about it deals with it takes place it is set in

the story begins there is a lot of dialogue/description/action the hero / heroine is the main characters are the climax comes / at the end of the book / in the end, /

I enjoyed it because / the reason I enjoyed it was / I recommend it because


Reasons for liking a book

easy to read moving exciting interesting fascinating funny full of suspense entertaining terrifying amusing frightening dramatic well-written original


Reading and the Textbook

    Most of use textbooks and most of us will develop reading skills mainly from the raw material and the exercises we find in the coursebook. Here is a technique to whet students’ appetite for classroom reading

Aims : to give students a reason for reading

to make the text more accessible

to give students a sense of ownership over the text.


    The teacher writes the comprehension questions in the textbook on the board. The students should not know where they are from.

    Students write their answer to the questions about the reading text before they see the reading text !

    They answer these questions in writing (students should make up an answer using their common sense, knowledge of the world and imagination)


1 How old was Dickens when he died ?

2 How many brothers and sisters did he have ?

3 Was he good at school ?

4 Why did he leave school when he was eleven ?

5 Who was in prison ?

6 What did Charles do in his first job ?

7 What was his next job ?

8 Was he happy at home ?

9 When did he stop writing ?

Write a story based on these questions:

1 How do we know Della and Jim are married ?

2 How do we know Della and Jim are poor ?

3 Why did Della have her hair cut ?

4 What was the first thing Della did when she got home ?

5 How did Jim feel when he came home and saw Della ?

6 What did he say ?

7 Why did Jim suggest they do with the Christmas presents ?

Now read the texts and compare your answers.

    The reader should compare the difference between teaching classroom reading using the formula text + questions (I read the text and answer the questions) and reversing the process (now and again!) : I read and answer the questions and then I read the text !

Further reading and sources

Greenwood, J. 1988. Class Readers (Oxford University Press)

Hedge. T. 1985. Using Readers in Language Teaching (Phoenix ELT)

Krashen, S. 1993. The Power of Reading (Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited)

Nuttall, C. Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language (Heinemann)

Prowse, P. Open Your Books (English Teaching Professional, January 2000)

* Luke Prodromou is a teacher and teacher trainer. He is also the author of Star, Rising Star (Heinemann) and Grammar and Vocabulary for FCE. (Longman). He is studying for a Ph.D at Nottingham University

Olha Madylus: Class Readers: From Reading to Writing

Olha Madylus

Students as Writers

I’m in the middle of a fabulous novel. It has all the ingredients of what is considered good writing: it is imaginative, it has a strong message, it makes me think and use my own imagination, for as I read I see clear pictures of the characters and action inside my head. It carries me away to another world: it is a pleasure to read. Unfortunately as I sit myself down to mark my students’ writing homework I rarely respond in the same way. In fact most teachers respond to a writing assignment by going into battle armed with numerous red pens and a strong stomach!

Students find writing hard for various reasons. Consider your own language use: what percentage of the time do you write as opposed to read, listen, speak and think in any language, and most of all how often do you write fiction, descriptive passages or a discursive essay? These are skills that we often do not have in our first language, let alone in a second.

Nevertheless this is a skill that is tested in examinations and one we believe enhances language learning in general, so we want to help our students to become better writers. We may also be teachers that believe that self-expression is a valuable element of learning to think, in that it helps us shape our ideas and also gives free rein to our creative side.

So, what models do our students have?

Writing is often an afterthought, an “oh, by the way, for homework write 500 words about whatever it was we were reading/listening to/discussing today’ activity. As if by magic the skill, which we have rarely developed in our mother tongue, will suddenly flourish in a vacuum. I think not.

Like all other language skills, writing must be developed. Firstly it is essential for students to have lots of good models for what constitutes good writing. In any language classroom you will find the students poring over their course book. Can we find good models of writing here? Well, picking up a primary course book off my shelf at random I scrutinised it for a sample text. First, I found it hard to find a text, as opposed to fragmented sentences or very short dialogues. Finally I found a few texts, and although grammatically correct, they won no points for being imaginative, for having rich vocabulary nor for realistic discourse features like cohesion. I found that Widdowson was right when he said that so many texts in course books…correspond to no normal conventions of language use and are not representative of this type of discourse… (1978)

The aim of so much text in course books is merely to ‘carry’ the target language, so we get, for example, dialogues ‘loaded’ with first conditionals or a simple description that has every sentence beginning with ‘I like + ing’.

If our students use these as models, we can be thrilled by their correct use of grammatical forms, but can we consider the product ‘good’ writing? Again, I think not.

Why class readers?

It saddens me when I hear colleagues say that Greek children do not like to read. After a day at state school, a couple of frontisterio and then doing three to four hours of learning by heart homework to prepare for the next day’s tests, is it any wonder that they do not fit in reading for pleasure into their day? Although reading for pleasure may not be as common in Greece as in the UK and although in the 21st Century other media are superficially more alluring than the written word on paper, I’ve yet to meet (even after over twenty years of teaching) a student that can’t be lured into the magic world of a story – given, of course, the right story. Stories entice us all – they are as natural as breathing. No culture exists on earth that does not have a tradition of stories either spoken or written.

Teachers feel pressurised by time restrictions and the demands of the course book / syllabus and often bemoan the fact they have little time for anything else in class. My argument is that we do our students a great disservice if we do not include class readers as part of their English learning experience. Reading readers is good for all five skills (don’t forget thinking) and it’s fun.

Reading to Writing

Although Stephen Krashen claims that good readers somehow automatically become good writers, I believe that as well as encouraging our students to read as much as possible in English for pleasure with no demotivating tasks like the ubiquitous book report, explicit work on the link between the two is needed in the classroom to help students recognise what constitutes effective writing and develop their own writing skills.

My example text is the marvellous ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ by JK Rowling. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing out on one of the best reading experiences ever. It is written for the younger reader (9 upwards) and tells of the adventures of a young wizard who attends a special wizard school. The writing is rich, vivid, imaginative and great fun to read. I chose this book because I love it and all the children and adults I know who have read it have thoroughly enjoyed it. As I said earlier, the choice of story is so important. There are hundreds of thousands of stories to choose from. Our problem as teachers is that we will never have enough time to read all the possible texts that we could choose from. In choosing texts for classroom use we must always consider our students’ age, interests, needs etc, but remember if we love a book, we can always ‘infect’ our students with our enthusiasm for it.

I suggest a few activities that teachers can do in the classroom to help students notice what is good writing and do short writing activities to practise developing these skills in isolation. This ensures that writing can be easily done within class time and that the teacher can guide and monitor students. These activities can also be linked to work on vocabulary, grammar, speaking (to be honest, when can we ever realistically separate language learning into fragmented chunks like ‘grammar’, ‘vocabulary’? It is all linked and underpinned by meaning!)

Activity One

I chose one descriptive sentence:

Neville was a round-faced and accident-prone boy with the worst memory of anyone Harry had ever met.

Students could

  1. discuss the character, suggesting examples of his accidents and the kinds of the things he forgets and imagine other details about what he looks like
  2. draw Neville
  3. role-play Neville

The aim of the above is for students to realise how much they learn about him in just one line. This is followed by the students writing their own description following this frame:

(Choose a name) ……………. was a/an (an adjective to

describe how they look)……………….. and (an adjective to

describe character)…………………boy/girl/man/dog etc with

the (adj)…………….(noun)………………….. of anyone X

had ever (verb) ……………………

The prompts are just suggestions, the students may not need or recognise the parts of speech, but they have a frame to follow and working on this in pairs can negotiate a very descriptive sentence. The teacher could also give cues like: try to make a scary character or a funny one. Their version also tends to use the ‘grammar’ appropriately with ‘no sweat’.

Activity Two

I isolated a few nouns preceded by adjectives that create a vivid picture:

chattering crowd

lumpy parcel

damp, red envelope

petrified faces

Students are asked to suggest alternative adjectives that create nice images. Students can have fun here and be as whacky as they like. (Shakespeare would not have been as evocative a writer if he’d stuck to cliched language!)

Hopefully:Not only are they assimilating the richer vocabulary.. they are assimilating ways of using language, particularly figurative language, and are inspired to risk some experimentation with language themselves. (Oster, 1989)

There are many activities leading out of reading that can help students appreciate ‘good’ writing and develop their own writing skills. (see for example ‘Class Readers’ by Joan Greenwood, OUP)

I also suggest creative fun activities such as drawing characters inspired by the reading for example – draw a wizard / witch that you think looks like a wizard/witch should, and then having discussed the picture with their friends, the students write a short description. Why? Writing begins with pictures/ideas in the author’s head that are transposed into words on the page. The students are following the same route of thought/picture to the written word.

My teenage students are very creative and I like to get them writing rap songs – a ‘wizard rap’ could be fun and could even be performed!

Use your imagination and tap that of your students for even more ideas. What, haven’t you ever asked your students what they’d like to write?

A Clear Connection

The important thing is that we as teachers appreciate that models of effective writing in the form of class readers are vital for students and that

..the relationship between reading and writing should be exploited.. and writing teachers need to be explicit in their teaching of that relationship.  

(Eisterhold 1990)


Eisterhold JC, 1990, ‘Reading – writing connections: toward a description for second-language learners’, in Second Language Learning, ed. B Kroll, CUP

Greenwood J, 1988, Class Readers, OUP

Oster J, 1989, ‘Seeing With Different Eyes – another view of literature in the ESL class’, in TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 23, No 1

Rowling JK, ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’, Bloomsbury

Widdowson H, 1978, Teaching Language as Communication, OUP

Nelly Zafeiriadou: The Case for Poetry Part II

Coming Soon

Marianthi Kotadaki: Communicative Listening through Modern Songs

Marianthi Kotadaki

EFL listening practice: a daunting task

    The present article aims at providing a few tips on how English teachers can transform a listening lesson based on authentic modern songs into a theoretically structured communicative listening activity.

    Listening is regarded to be the act of interpreting sounds one receives through the ears, and it is contrasted to hearing, which is the act of receiving sounds through the ears without interpreting it. Consequently, the purpose of implementing listening in the EFL classroom is to help our learners practise their listening skills, and enable them to interpret the target oral speech with success.

    Unfortunately, specific factors frequently short-circuit the listening process and turn it into a daunting task for the learners. Firstly, there seems to be an ongoing lack of authentic listening texts, which are deemed quite essential, as they exhibit those features of authentic spoken discourse, (false starts, hesitation, repetition, recycling, etc.), that our students must get familiarised with. Secondly, if the students have abstained from listening, or worked upon the stilted language of traditional listening passages, -ultimately intended to be read, not heard-, then they are not prepared to receive the apparently imperfect natural spoken language. Thirdly, many teachers are reticent to engage in the painful task of listening, either because they value more the practice of the other two productive skills (reading and writing), or for a number of other reasons. Finally, the fact that syllabuses are mostly constructed around the written language, which is anyway subject to examination, urges the consistent teaching of the written, not the spoken, mode.

The nature of listening practice in the EFL classroom

    In the EFL classroom we usually distinguish two kinds of listening practice: the top-down and the bottom-up one. During the former listeners focus on the message(s) of the speaker(s), while during the latter they listen for the expression, the actual words used to convey a specific message. The first kind encourages more uncontrolled speech by the learners and practices their fluency skills, whereas the second kind promotes the practice of their accuracy skills in pronunciation, grammar or syntax. Both listening modes are used in combination, as regularly happens in real-life situations. The typical process followed in the classroom might be:

Top-down listening

Bottom-up listening

Controlled speaking practice

Uncontrolled speaking practice

Writing practice

    Which means: listening for meaning might lead on to listening for form in preparation for controlled speaking practice, which might lead on to freer uncontrolled speaking practice and then to writing practice. This actually reflects real world listening.

Current approach towards EFL listening

    The currently prevailing approach towards listening is markedly communicative and has been advocated by renowned researchers like Brown G & Yule G (1983), Rixon S (1986), Underwood M (1989), Burgess J (1994) and others. Listening needs to transcend its traditional resemblance to comprehension testing and simulate real world communication as closely as possible. Listeners need to become communicatively efficient in the target language. The factors that safeguard the attainment of this goal are outlined below as follows:

  • Use of authentic listening texts, in order to achieve fidelity to the real spoken language. These can be authentic in origin, that is texts created by real writers for real audiences, serving no pedagogic purpose, or authentic in nature, that is texts bearing many of the features of authentic spoken discourse, which highly facilitate the perception of meaning. Authentic language is utterly different from the idealised language students are spoonfed with in the classroom.
  • Use of topdown and bottom-up practice in combination, so that listeners could listen to a text to interpret both the main message, but also the expression utilised to convey it.
  • Lesson construction around the pre-, while- and post-listening structure, a vital framework, as it gradually guides our learners from the reception to the production stage. Activities in the pre-listening phase must anticipate impending problems, encourage the students’ prediction skills and stimulate their interest in the listening work. During the while-listening stage, listeners should exploit the language of the listening text through various tasks. In the post-listening stage learners could process the content for some productive purpose, speaking or writing.
  • Task-based, problem-solving, heuristic listening, with learners learning by coping with a number of manageable issues, which offer challenge and motivation to the task.
  • Integration of all four skills in one listening lesson, as students listen, read, speak and write, which clearly reflects the purpose of real world listening.
  • Co-operative learning by encouraging our learners to work in pairs or small groups, which builds up their self-reliance, ensures total participation, constitutes a form of learner training, and ultimately confirms the principle that meanings are constructed co-operatively.

Communicative listening through modern songs: is it possible?

    What this article aspires to demonstrate is how we can merge the principles hinted at before in order to turn the apparently superficial listening to pop or rock music into a constructive communicative activity. Basing our listening practice on modern songs can soundly be justified as follows:

  • Songs disperse the feeling of monotony created by the ritualistic process of a typical lesson and offer variety in the classroom.
  • They familiarise learners with the lexis, grammar, syntax and culture of the foreign language in an enjoyable manner.
  • They provide motivating subjects (social, political, sentimental, etc.) which can feed plenty of speaking and writing practice.
  • They capture and maintain the learners’ interest in listening particularly if they are constructed on the pre-, while-, and post-listening framework.
  • They become an enjoyable activity which oils the wheels for learner self-reliance, teacher independence and active participation in their own learning.
  • They are an innovative way of both educating and recreating.

From theory to practice: a communicative listening lesson based on a pop song.

    The lesson which follows is based on a ballad of the 70s sung by Al Stewart, an American singer, and is constructed on the communicative framework. Its content is rich and exploitable, and for this reason it was tested fairly successfully among the upper-intermediate level students of Piramatikon (Experimental) Senior Secondary School of Patras.


(Αl Stewart)

TASK 1 (pair work)

Choose οne of the three alternatives from each section and discuss it with your partner:

She enjoyed her joba lot and tried hardtο be good at itShe didn’t really love her job and did it only for money, never showing interest in the people who surrounded her.She was so absorbed in her job that she spent much time entertaining the people in the clubs
Every night she hadto do her best in order nοt to lose her job and the little money she earned. Still she believed that her job at least offered herexperience.Being a star shehoped that, she would sign more contracts in the future and shedisliked any imperfect attitude at work.Her boss often praised her talent and filled herwith precious gifts.
Unfortunately she had an accident which damaged her face. So she went tο California to restore her beauty.After killing her boss she moved to California, where she got married to a rich film director.One day Lucy gave up Everything and went οn holidays in California. She would never regret her previous life as it had taught her so many things.

 ΤΑSΚ 2 (individual work)

Listen to the song once and seeif your prediction was correct. Discuss it with therestof the class.

TASK 3 (individual work)

Listen to the song again and complete the gaps with the missing items. Then discuss your findings with your partner and the rest of the class.


Lucy worked a …… …… every day

And though she put her mind to it.

Her ……… was never in it.

She stayed around just long enough to …… …………

She wοn’t ρass the night with yοu

She can’t stay a minute.

And all these …………… faces

Never bothered her at all

They just existed like a backdrop

Or a pattern …… ……… …………….

Lucy looks like someone who is waiting for a call

She knows it’ll come but …. …… ……….

Can hear at all.

Lucy fiηds the …………-……… and the bar

Hangs her clothes up, hopes tonight

The ………… wοn’t be broken.

Well they kick yοu round so much

When yοu’re not a star

………… yοu …………… all night

lust for a pittance or a token.

But all these …… … never bothered her at all

She says it sharρens your perception

When yοur back’s against the wall

There’s something that enables her to …………

Above it all

Το shrug it οff just when it seems to …… ……… ……

Hey,Ι think yοu almost feel the …………

Coming οn inside

Hey, Ι think yοu almost feel it now And yοu …… ………………… …………………

The last time that Ι saw her

She had given uρ the …………………

Moved away to California

Got ……… ………………… οn her face.

She says that life was just another time

Another space

Ιt’s over now, she ………… ……… ……………

It’s not a waste.

Hey, Ι think you almost feel yourself

Reaching out ………………… (chorus)

Hey, Ι think yοu almost feel it now

And yοu …………… ………………… ……………………………

TASK 4 (individual and pair work)

Tick the right box Yes, Νο. Don’t know, taking information from the song.Then discuss your findings with your partner.

your findings with your partner and the rest of the class.

 YesΝοDon’t know
Lucy loved her job   
The people she met were always the same   
She worked eight hours a day   
She was treated badly at work   
She earned about 5 dollars per night   
She believed that her job was steady   
California was the place where she went to relax   
Her experiences caused her pain   
Lucy was still going to continue working in clubs   

 TASK 5 (individual work)

Each noun of column Α is explained in column B. Match the items of the cοlumns to find the right meanings of the nouns:

1. Pittancea. coupon which can be exchanged for goods
2. Backdropb. browning of the skin after sunbathing
3. Patternc. printed cloth used as part of the scenery in α theatre
4. Dressing-roomd. insufficient amount of money
5. Tokene. place where actors usually put on their costumes
6. Suntanf. design repeated on cloth

TASK 6 (group work)

    Work with your group and write in the bubble what plans you think Lucy is making for her future while lying in the sun in California :

Have we achieved our goals?

    If we examine each task attentively, we shall notice that many of the ideas deployed above are quite evident in our lesson. In task 1, students are asked to practice their prediction skills, by forming guesses which they will later confirm or reject. Thus, their interest in the topic gets stimulated, co-operation is necessitated and learners get prepared for the ensuing top-down listening in task 2. In the next task (task 3), bottom-up listening is practised with learners focusing on the specific words or expressions that constitute the song. Accuracy skills are practised in this way. The inter-learner discussion that follows kindles the spirit of self-reliance, while learners silently engage in learner training by justifying their answers according to relevant grammatical rules. Task 4, the diagram, seeks the students’ critical thinking as well as information from the song for its completion. The negotiation of the answers encourages the practice of the learners’ fluency skills. Task 5 is a matching exercise, which helps students to clarify certain vocabulary difficulties without the intervention of the teacher. Finally, in task 6, learners form small groups, assume a theatrical role (they are placed in Lucy’s position) and use the information gleaned in writing. As we realise, most, if not all, the current communicative principles underlie the present lesson.


    Listening is the least tangible of all the skills. Nonetheless, structuring its practice on the communicative basis can bring about amazingly tangible effects. Besides, if this practice involves modern songs, it ceases to be a typical painful learning task. It becomes a unique unforgettable experience.


1. Burgess J (1994), ‘Ideational frameworks in communicative language learning’ in System 22/3

2. Brown G & Yule G (1983), Teaching the spoken language CUP

3. Rixon S (1986), Developing listening skills, London: Macmillan

4. Sheerin S (1987) ‘Listening comprehension: teaching or testing?’ in ELTJ 41/2: 126-131

5. Underwood M (1989) Teaching Listening Harlow: Longman

6. Ur P (1984) Teaching Listening Comprehension CUP


* Marianthi Kotadaki holds a degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Athens and the Diploma of English Studies from the British Council of Athens. She is now attending the second year of her Master’s degree at the Hellenic Open University (Patras department), and simultaneously teaching at the Piramatikon (experimental) Senior Secondary School of Patras, where she has regularly experimented with a series of lessons she has constructed based on authentic pop and rock songs.

Katerina Demitriadou: Theatrical Games in the EFL Classroom

Katerina Dimitriadou

In recent years a new trend has emerged concerning the processes of both teaching and learning: “theatrical games”.

Of course the concept is not new, especially in Foreign Language teaching. For years now we have been working with “pair work”, “group work” and “role play” techniques.

Τheatrical games go far and beyond all the above. It’s not mere role play. It’s creating a setting, staging an activity, a whole process which involves music, dance, moving around freely, and which I found very creative, resourceful and of course fun to do. What is new in this trend is the theatrical element and its multiple usage. You can use theatrical games for practice, for staging a performance or just for the fun of it. They can also be applied in elementary levels as well as very advanced. They can work effectively in all teaching environments: from the well-organized school down to the one with faulty tape recorders.

As teachers we have often encountered the boredom, even sometimes the annoyance the teaching process causes to our young students, along with competition and even disputes caused among children. The theatrical game can become the means towards a creative relationship, a cooperation among students. And this is so because it isn’t only targeted towards language learning; it can also create a motivating environment where children can unravel their other talents, eg dancing, singing, drawing or even assigning roles to fellow students. “In a theatrical game we don’t have people who “produce” and people who “consume”. Everybody participates, communicates, discovers and composes but most of all expounds the communication code. The theatrical game is a creative incident which gives children an immediate satisfaction” (Lakis Kouretzis, Theatrical Game, 1991:45,47)

For the foreign language teacher it can be a very useful tool. Of course, we don’t want to make our students actors and actresses, but we do want to make our lessons enjoyable and why not relaxing. Following are some activities adjusted by and inspired from a seminar attended in Thessaloniki with the title: “10 creative steps: creating a school performance”.

  1. The “blind” student and its “guide”. One student is “blind” and the other guides him / her by gibing directions to an object or a point in the classroom. (Language items practised: Imperative, Giving directions)
  2. The “sun” and its “rays” to practise colours. One student is the “sun” and calls out to its “rays” i.e. other students who represent different colours. Dancing and singing can be generated from these activities as the “rays” move along singing something like: “Sun, here I am, and I’m red, yellow, blue etc”
  3. Pantomime is a well-known technique and it can be used to practise verbs, tenses etc.
  4. Another activity that can be used at a very early stage for practising greeting and introductions is the following: Students move freely in the classroom under the sound of music, a musical instrument or even the clapping of the teacher’s hands. When the sound stops they exchange a few utterances of introduction with the nearest student.
  5. Variation of “the blind and the guide” activity for practising questions and answers. The “blind” student is given an object to identify by touching, or even a fellow student to identify either by touching or by hearing a cry or any other ambiguous sound.

These activities, apart from being fun, are easily applied to every classroom situation. I discovered that they affect positively even very noisy and restless kids. In fact, in some cases, it works much better with these students because it gives them the opportunity to do what they are usually forbidden: to move around and express themselves within the norms of the activity.

Theatrical games have another aspect as well. They give us the opportunity to interact, without interfering with the teachers of music and kindergarten. It is amazing what we can do with some of the stuff found in Kindergartens and it goes without saying that our students will be delighted and eager to speak English prompted by a tambourine or some “marakes” or even a flute.

Concluding, it can be said that the theatrical game “pushes” the language teaching process a little bit further, engaging students in music, dance, mimic movement and role playing; and there lies its true value: children “forget” the lesson and participate freely and unstressed thinking the activities in terms of a game rather than in terms of having to learn. And thus by enjoying themselves they actually learn better. And this is exactly what we, as teachers, aim at: Give knowledge as well as joy to our students.


Θεοδωρίδης Νίκος (1996) Τραγουδοπαιχνίδια, Θεσσαλονίκη

Καλλιτεχνική- Παιδαγωγική Ομάδα: EΛΑΤΕ ΝΑ ΠΑΙΞΟΥΜΕ, 2000, Παραστάσεις στο Σχολείο: 10 Δημιουργικά Βήματα

Κουρετζής Λάκης (1991), Το Θεατρικό Παιχνίδι, Παιδαγωγική θεωρία και θεατρολογική προσέγγιση, Εκδ. Καστανιώτη, Αθήνα

* Katerina Dimitriadou holds a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She is a State Primary School teacher in Kilkis.

Costas Calaitzidis et al.:Homework in Primary and Compulsory Secondary Education





Working team:

Costas Calaitzidis, Apostolia Fotiadou, Doris Kellermann, Jens Lipski, Theodoros Skenderis


1.Definition of homework

    By homework we mean tasks set in the classroom to be accomplished outside normal teaching time and which are the responsibility of the learner (Mac Beath & Turner,1990).

2.Necessary preconditions for successful homework practice

    According to the given definition of homework the following preconditions are necessary for successful homework practice:

(a). that each pupil in the classroom has understood the tasks given,

(b). that each pupil in the classroom has sufficient working conditions for carrying out homework,

(c). that each pupil gets sufficient feedback about the quality of his/her homework, &

(d). that each pupil is motivated to carry out homework (as a result of the above mentioned plus other conditions).

3. Findings of the Project

(a) Understanding the tasks

    In almost all national studies the issue of understanding homework tasks by pupils emerges as the most prevailing one in completion/non-completion or mal-completion of homework both at primary and secondary levels. It is discussed basically by pupils and authorities as due to:

  1. pupils’ attention during the lesson as teachers and even pupils themselves mention that they are often unable to do their homework because they don’t pay attention
  2. Insufficient or inappropriate instructions-explanations of the tasks- by the teacher

    For parents and pupils the main reason lies in the fact that teachers do not reserve
enough time for setting and explaining homework. Some pupils pointed out that
there was little time available at the end of the lesson when homework was usual-
ly assigned to copy it down, ensure that they understood it and then gain the
teachers’ attention if they didn’t understand it.

  1. Homework especially in secondary schools require pupils to carry out more sophisticated and challenging tasks that may demand a more imaginative approach and initiative: different types of tasks are mentioned as having different degrees of difficulty resulting to completion or non-completion of tasks. Types of tasks are related to pupils interests, likes and dislikes and their connection to every day life.
  2. Conditions of presentation: in both Greek and Italian reports there was only implicit reference to the stage of the lesson ,beginning, middle, end, during which homework is given and explained to the pupils. However it can be assumed from the Greek study in practice assignment of homework and instructions on it given not clearly are at the end of the lesson, just before the break.
  3. In relation to types of exercises is the issue of transition from primary to secondary education. Homework tasks in the two levels are compared and contrasted as being more in quantity and of a new, different, less mechanical type, requiring the application of the pupils’ skills of critical analysis and synthesis; and more demanding in time and effort. A common finding of the Italian and Greek case studies is that at the transition level there is a shift of emphasis from controlled mechanical and cognitive to pupils’ independent and autonomous learning, ”Do It Yourself”’ and “learning how to learn” which signifies an important difference between primary and secondary education and difficulty for the learners who must adapt themselves to the new situation as there is no guarantee of continuity between the two kind of schools. Another common finding is that homework bears more weight in the overall pupil assessment in the secondary school . The issue of homework as responsibility and commitment being more evident in primary than in secondary education was more clearly stated in the Italian report II. In addition to the above changes in homework itself, the following changes from primary to secondary education were mentioned as factors influencing learners’ success: travel from a small to a bigger school, new environment, more subject teachers, more homework because of more subjects, different attitudes, approaches and expectations of teachers and/or parents and peers.
  4. Some national reports mentioned that quite often pupils who fail to understand the tasks, usually react so as to pretend they have understood; they have hesitations and are afraid of showing lack of understanding. Some pupils pointed out that in a large secondary school it can be even difficult to find teachers. Greek local authority advisors mentioned that teachers need to be trained how to set homework to pupils.
  5. Altough parents felt that it was the teacher’s role to ensure that the homework set had been understood before the children left the classroom, many teachers apparently presume in silence that parents should explain the task if pupils did not understand it . In Spain an intensive commitment of parents concerning content of homework is even welcomed .

(b) Working conditions

    Another main finding was that the working conditions of the pupils interviewed are not sufficient. There are dissimilarities in working conditions above all when pupils had to carry out their homework at home. There were differences concerning space and family life ,available resources, i.e. reference books. The majority of pupils pointed out that they do their homework after school (evening/night) at home, or sometimes in the local library. Some of them have got their own study room. However, almost all of them stressed the fact they are often distracted by members of the family and noises such as TV, radio, vacuum cleaner; parents also felt that they must do their best to create the right atmosphere. In the Netherlands teachers are the main source for children. Both elementary and secondary schools promote independent learning; they place emphasis on autonomous learning. Homework is written on the blackboard at the beginning of the lesson or the beginning of the week. Teachers explain the content of the task; pupils have to prepare a paper or a short presentation. Most homework tasks are completed at many places, the most important being the school. Parents are very important for completion of homework tasks. They are seen as an important source of success by the teachers themselves. Resources are available in school, in public libraries, at home; there are computers and internet at schools and in the out-of-school centres. Help comes from teachers in the first place, by parents and out-of -school centres. There are hardly any homework clubs in the Netherlands, only for upper class parents who can afford it.

    As far as resources are concerned it seems that in primary education in Greece the main resources are the coursebook, worksheets prepared by the teacher, and special reference/study books suggested by the teacher whereas in secondary schools pupils are given or are asked to look themselves for support materials, reference books, magazines, encyclopedias, the internet in libraries or elsewhere, although some pupils confessed that they don’t know how to use the sources.

    In both Greek and Italian reports all stakeholders referred to some kind of parental involvement in carrying out homework tasks. In the primary schools the Greek authorities considered it as “substantial cooperation” and in Italy the heads are seen as mediators. In both countries, both primary and secondary teachers and pupils expect parental help with homework but they would rather have parents restricted to the role of facilitator and emotional supporter, and would like parents to ensure only the completion of homework by their children . It was also mentioned that help is also offered by other members of the family; parents also confessed that helping their children do their homework is not always easy.

    Finally in both countries help from the family and /or peers is mentioned by all stakeholders, the parent’s interest and emotional support- not their interference- is invited by the teachers and concern about the proportion between classwork and homework requirements is expressed by parents.

    Teachers and principals had different ideas about participation of parents in homework completion. In Germany, Greece and Italy teachers stress that parents should only look after carrying out of homework and giving feedback is the teacher’s task; teachers in Spain and Greece complained that parents often lack necessary abilities.

    Irrespective of these different national policies all schools were interested in good communication with parents and used corresponding means, i.e. parent-teacher meetings, homework diaries, etc.

    Countries with homework or study support practice within the school have the opportunity to produce roughly similar working conditions for all pupils. However, these offers were not used by all pupils. In England one reason for not wishing to attend these after school sessions was that children had simply had enough of being in school .

    By transition from primary to secondary school there is an expansion in the number of subject areas and correspondingly the amount of homework. Due to the introduction of homework in some countries and the expansion of the amount of homework in others some pupils had problems with time management . Pupils were also in conflict between carrying out homework and leisure activities.

    In England the introduction of homework timetables caused some problems. Some secondary school teachers were of the view that pupils had difficulty pacing themselves in the beginning. Children reported that they either let homework accumulate or that they felt overloaded when they were given as many as five pieces in one evening. They didn’t take account of the fact that not all tasks were required for the next day.

    Secondary teachers in Greece reported that the majority of the transitory stage pupils in the rural areas find homework very hard because they had not been trained to work in the primary school.

(c) Checking of homework and feedback

    Checking and marking of homework was different in the five countries. In primary education correction takes places at school, in the classroom or during the break on a daily basis in Greece and fairly regularly in Italy, but in general it follows no standard parameters (orally, in written form, whole class, individually, selectively, spot-checking etc). Quite often checking takes place only to see whether pupils are respecting their duties or not, regardless of understanding homework or not. Pupils in Italy noted that teachers sometimes forget to correct homework and that appreciation for good work is not shown. Finally all stakeholders consider homework checking very important in supporting motivation and agree that there is no point in assigning homework without checking it, although there is no formal process of monitoring and controlling checking.

    In Germany in no case did a check on the content of all homework take place. Rather, the accumulative impression from conversations was that teachers concentrated above all on a formal check as to whether the pupils had fulfilled their duty. Usually teachers only carried spot-checks to see whether homework had been done at all. Otherwise homework was carried out on the blackboard, mostly by pupils, in the form of examples; checking of content and correction was left to pupils. Failure to do homework was given a mark and therefore had an influence on the pupil assessment.

    In Spain homework is either checked and corrected by teachers or pupils. In the latter case the correct answers or solutions are written on the blackboard by the teachers. Homework should be given the same importance as classwork and it should be corrected by the same assessment criteria.

In Italian and Greek secondary schools there seem to be:

  1. more systematic and deliberate checking and marking of homework,
  2. individual, informal record keeping of progress because homework at this level is

the pupils’ overall assessment.

Finally homework used as a means of punishment, even for bad behaviour, was only mentioned by pupils in Italy.

    In England all homework is checked and marked by the teacher. In one school, for instance, there is a whole school policy to have homework marked and given back to children within 48 hours. There should be individual feedback for the child in the form of written comments. Each subject teacher takes responsibility for pointing out mistakes in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Some departments have a congratulation or reward card for homework for children to put in a record folder, such as a certificate. In reality, however, there seem to exist some difficulties. Many parents mentioned the importance of teachers taking the time to mark homework. Some teachers complained of having too little time for marking homework; some pupils complained that marking was not done properly. One major difficulty for teachers was that pupils often used one exercise book for both homework and classwork. Exercise books had to be available for the lesson whether homework had been marked or not. In practice this might mean that homework had to be returned before marking was complete and there were, therefore, delays in providing pupils with feedback.

    In the Netherlands homework is the child’s own responsibility; the teacher monitors if homework is done. Pupils can get extra help when they do not seem to be successful in a specific subject. There is no marking of homework as used in the UK context. There is no homework for punishment .


    Apart from and in addition and relation to the above conditions, motivation was also reported by all stakeholders to depend on how purposeful and meaningful homework tasks are and whether or not they are designed with certain criteria in mind, such as personal interests, needs and abilities, emotional state and feelings of security, free time, extra curricular activities, variety of tasks, degree of difficulty, graded and guided tasks, clear instructions etc. There are highly motivated pupils, especially high achieving ones, usually girls, who tend toward positive attitudes; there is a majority of low motivated pupils, who often do not return their homework. Completion of homework is itself a motivating factor as it develops pupils’ self confidence and independence.

    The engagement children show toward homework is certainly influenced, as mentioned earlier, by external factors. The long school day in the UK, for example, made even longer for those who lived further away, was reported as another disincentive for young people to complete their homework when they were tired and needed time to relax and wind down .

    Negative experiences with homework may lead to low engagement, especially homework as punishment. Pupils were highly motivated when they were able to participate more effectively in deciding the content and form of homework. This was also expressed in the wishes of parents and pupils for other types of organizational forms of homework.

© 1999 EC Socrates project No.98-01-3PE-0654-00

Jim Kalathas: Getting a Reading Program Started in the Secondary Classroom

Summary of a T.E.U.T. presentation by Jim Kalathas


This session examined why extensive reading is useful for students. It mainly dwelt upon extensive reading, and somewhat touched upon intensive reading. The audience was also given tips on how extensive reading can be organised in the secondary classroom. The session ended with a hands-on examination of various published reading materials. Materials were examined in terms of level, student appeal/enjoyment, and useful language.
The presentation commenced with the teachers being asked if they would like their students to improve their English enjoyably and effectively without having to do any work. And, further if they would like their
learners to learn on their own, in their own time, at their own pace, without teachers or schools. Replies to the first question were mostly positive in nature; answers to the second question were mixed.
The audience were then told that ‘Extensive Reading’ is the key to the above questions. It is all about reading for ‘pleasure’; i.e. students read books that they have chosen to read on their own for enjoyment.

    Stephen Krashen in his book ‘The Power of Reading’ reviews research studies worldwide, and comes up with this conclusion: ‘When (second language learners) read for pleasure, they can continue to improve in
their second language without classes, without teachers, without study and even without people to converse with.’ (1993, p.84) Krashen summarized L1 studies where in 38 out of 41 cases, students who read on
their own did better than those who received traditional reading comprehension lessons. Further, Christine Nutall writes about ‘the virtuous circle of reading’ (Nutall 1996). This is where the more students read, the more successful readers they become, and the better they become at it. Mind this can also work in reverse.
L2 studies in Fiji in 1980/81 (Elley 1991) involved 500 9-11 year olds in a total of 12 schools. 8 were experimental and 4 control. The control group followed the normal classes, and the experimental read for pleasure using 250 illustrated story books. Krashen summarizes the findings of the experimental group by stating they wete ‘far superior in tests of reading comprehension, writing and grammar’.
    Another similar study took place in Singapore in 1985. This time 3000 6- 9 year olds were involved. Krahen says of the children in the experimental classes, ‘outperformed traditionally taught students on tests of reading comprehension, vocabulary, oral language, grammar, listening comprehension and writing’. Warwick Elley who conducted the study says, ‘In contrast to students learning by means of structured audiolingual programs, those children who are exposed to an extensive range of high-interest illustrated story books, and encouraged to read and share them, are consistently found to learn the target language more quickly. Perhaps the most striking finding is the spread of the effect from reading competence to other language skills-writing, speaking, and control over syntax (Elley 1991).
    We remain in Singapore and look at another study undertaken by Colin Davis. This involved the 40 weakest secondary schools in the country.Students read silently for 20 minutes a day, and had an extensive reading
session once a week. After 5 years these weakest schools were found to be above the national average. Davis concluded: Pupils developed a wider active and passive vocabulary. They used more varied sentence
structure, and were better at spotting and correcting grammatical mistakes in their writing and speaking. They showed an overall improvement in writing skills and increased confidence and fluency in speaking (Davis 1995). The last study to be considered is Gradman and Hanania (1991) who reported that extensive reading is ‘a strong predictor of TOEFL scores’. All teachers of FCE/CPE know how useful reading is to successful examination results. And most authors/speakers always stress this fact at the various conferences they address.

Intensive Reading
    Intensive reading is really all about students in the same class reading the same book. Most publishers help this sort of reading situation by producing photocopiable worksheets, containing both before and after reading exercises. Audio cassettes may also be available, and these are very useful especially as they can help increase reading speed, and help with pronunciation.

Extensive Reading
    Our ultimate goal here is to get students reading as many books as possible. Teachers should put aside a regular time each week for reading in class; this is not always an easy thing to do but is definitely well
worth it. Overall, teahers should be positive about reading and show it to be a pleasure; students should also be talked to about their reading. Students themselves should select the titles that go into a class library, and usually 3 different levels of reader material should suffice for most mixed ability classes. And as far as organisation is
concerned don’t fret; assign student to do this for you. Some publishers can help here as they provide reading wallcharts for students to keep a record of what they have read, and what they have thought of it.

    Don’t let students look up every second word with a dictionary. Don’t test students, or have them write summaries on what they have been reading. This kills the enjoyment aspect of extensive reading. And
finally don’t ask students to read to the rest of the class as their fellow students are bound to get bored. It would be preferable if you the teacher read aloud to the class.

Good luck with reading in your class!

Day R. and Bamford J. 1998 Extensive Reading in the Second Language Classroom Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Nutall C. 1996 Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language Oxford: Heinemann ELT
Prowse P. 1999 Cambridge English Readers Teacher’s Guide Cambridge:Cambridge University Press

Alex Georgopoulos: Sustainable Development Revisited

Alex. Georgopoulos

The concept of sustainable development is a major leap forward, as concerns thinking and caring about the future in a way which is not perceived as threatening for industrialists and business people. It represents a historical compromise between growth adherents, who want to go on trying to maximize economic parameters, and people with ecological sensitivities, dedicated to taming growth under the limiting notion of sustainability.

Nevertheless, the above mentioned concept needs further elaboration so that it can integrate a number of parameters into its definition.

  1. Poverty: is sustainable development able to accommodate the poor people’s needs today in sustainable development in relation to poverty, or do we simply assume that the first concept has incorporated anti-poverty strategies?
  2. Third World development: is sustainable development the correct way to bridge the different and unequal rates of development between North and South? Do we have to amend it, in order for that task to be met?
  3. The Global Dimension: Today, Earth is perceived as an ecosystem which needs rational management along the lines of sustainable development. Who is going to undertake such a colossal task? Environmental organizations? The United Nations? Or the U.S.A.? And what exactly each of those solutions means as far as the balance of power and democracy on this planet is concerned?
  4. The emerging non anthropocentric ethics: is sustainable development able to accommodate a different conception of duties, not only to human beings but also to non human beings as well? Is it possible, under the guidance of that concept, to perceive Nature as something more that a mere collection of natural resources waiting to be exploited by humans?

Sustainable Development:

The term Sustainable Development is not very old1. It first appeared when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published the World Conservation Strategy (1981) report. Later, the Brundtland Report (1987) brought that term into prominence. During the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) it gained even higher status, to become the most widely spread concept among environmentalists today.

According to the Brundtland Report, sustainable development is that kind of development which “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”(WCED,1987, 8).

That definition was heralded as a major leap forward as far as the cosmological assumptions of the human race were concerned. A new ethics seemed to be constructed out of the idea of sustainable development. Both philosophically and morally that concept broke into new ground, demanding from people to question their future situation in much more powerfully conscious ways. Citizens of the Earth are now presented with far more pragmatic questions: will that specific forest exist in the year 2050? How much wood are we allowed to take out of it, without jeopardizing its ability to produce at least equal amounts in the future? How many pollutants can we discharge into the atmosphere or that sea without risking irreversible changes? That specific approach might be one of the advantages of the term i.e. its appeal to perennial values of responsibility to others which is really an archaic theme. This is why different social groups are in favor, but still perceive it in a very different way, because of their different interests (Reid, 1995). For instance, this term seemed to make sense to the industrialists and business people. Instead of alienating them, as previously proposed environmental concepts such as “zero growth” had done, and therefore lose them as potential negotiators, this new concept presented them with a “historical compromise” and inaugurated a new arena for the contestants to argue in. Of course development was not to be abolished, but it could now be tamed under the limiting notion of sustainability. “Thou shalt not overexploit” appeared to be the new powerful dictum, destined to shape our way of thinking and acting, to which, industrialists and business people feel it is not threatening for them. This very attitude might be one of the reasons explaining why, although a popular term, sustainable development is, nevertheless, fiercely contested: “moral convictions as a substitute for thought” (Redclift, 1987, p. 2), “a good idea which cannot sensibly be put into practice” (O’Riordan, 1988, p. 48), “how to destroy the environment with compassion” (Smith, 1991, p. 135). Despite all criticism, Skolimowski (1995, p. 69) insists:

Yet something was new: the very idea of Sustainable Development. It struck a middle ground between more radical approaches which denounced all development, and the idea of development conceived as “business as usual”.

The idea of Sustainable Development, although broad, loose and tinged with ambiguity around its edges, turned out to be palatable to everybody. This may have been its greatest virtue. It is radical and yet not offensive.

But is it adequate for a notion to create consensus between social groups? Is it enough to appeal to values that are accepted by everyone? (i.e. future generations needs) Could it be that sustainable development is a wildly idealistic path that is bound to condemn us to repeating almost the same failures of the past?

Sustainable development was originally conceptualized as a notion related to pollution and resource conservation. Therefore, its quite problematic association to concepts of social justice was disregarded. Today, a further elaboration of the term sustainability is undertaken by many people who argue that it is a necessary but not adequate (sufficient) prerequisite for a fully humane society. Some of them contend that poverty alleviation, population stabilization, female empowerment, employment creation, human rights observance and redistribution of opportunities on a massive scale, should be integrated into the notion of sustainable development, which they define as the biospherically compatible and socially equitable improvement of the quality of life (Khan, 1995).


Poverty (in both the “First” and “Third” World) should be tackled before claiming that the future society is constructed according to the sustainability stipulations. Why should we think more about future generations prosperity and not about the predicament of present generations? Why all that passionate reference to inter-generational equity when our performance of intra-generational solidarity is so poor?

Recent data from the statistical office of the European Union concerning poverty in Europe are both revealing and depressing: over 57 million individuals, living in twelve of the fifteen member states for the year 1993 were officially classified as poor2.

Over 13 million of them were children (Newsletter of the European Anti-Poverty Network, 1977). Poverty trends are even more depressing: between the late eighties and 1993 poor people increased in the European Union by an average of 10% which concerns percentages such as 172% (Netherlands) and 45% (U.K. and Denmark) experiencing a traumatic deconstruction of their welfare state.

Development of the Third World

Yet, those people represent only a tiny fraction of the whole planet’s poor population. Over a billion (representing one third of the total population of the developing countries) live in extreme poverty lacking nutrition, access to safe water, sanitation, health care, housing. Inequality makes the gap between North and South deeper and deeper, a measure of it might be the ratio of income or richest 20% to poorest 20% of world population which increases all the time. It was 30:1 in 1960, 45:1 in 1980 and 60:1 in 1990 (UNDP, 1991, 1994).

There are a number of arguments relating poverty, sustainable development and the Third World.

First, people with unsatisfied basic needs and survival which might be in doubt see no meaning in practising conservation, and sustainability criteria fall very low in their priorities. Necessity drives them to use and abuse any natural resource at hand: water, land, wood et.c. (WCED, 1987). In this way, the poor not only suffer from environmental damage caused by the better off, but they increasingly become a cause of environmental degradation themselves. Economic deprivation and ecological decline then reinforce one another to form a vicious cycle.

Second, in order to escape from their misery, they tend to have more children expecting them to contribute to the family labor force and provide them with security during their old age, acting in this way clearly non sustainably.

Third, most of the times, the rural poor do not own the land they farm, being most of the time dispossessed laborers, given the fact that ownership of land is concentrated at the hands of the few. Consequently they do not have any motivation to conserve that land, trees or any other natural resources around. Sociopolitical reforms handing to those people access to resources, may be the key toward a more sustainable future (Repetto, 1992).

Fourth, as far as the Third World is concerned, poor people are under the influence of forces, putting pressure on them at the local, national and global level which reinforce each other. At the local level, there is the limited access to land and other assets, physical weakness and susceptibility to disease, population growth and powerlessness against corrupt institutions. At the national level, government policies in many sectors favor the urban fortunate over the rural masses. At an international level, interlocking patterns of debt, trade and capital flight during the eighties have made the rich richer and the poor poorer (Durning, 1989). The same forces, leading the same social strata into the same globally unsustainable paths are still at work during the nineties. It is obvious that there is no ecologically sensible solution that could help us deal with poverty in both the First and the Third World. Closing the gap between those who have and those who do not have is the prerequisite of any realistic move toward any kind of greener future.

Deregulated global capitalism, expressing itself in the form of the free market economy contributes heavily to the problem of the widening gap between the North and the South (Sterling, 1994)

The big dilemma

But there is still a dilemma at the heart of the problem of the Third World development: on the one hand we know very well that if all the people of the world would try to raise their standards of living to equal their American counterparts, planet Earth would collapse. Suppose all Third World societies decided to follow the industrial example (and provided they could do so), then, five or six planets would possibly be enough to extract raw materials and accommodate wastes that this kind of economic progress would produce. There would be too much atmospheric and water pollution, non-renewable energy sources would be depleted, most known deposits of metals would finish off and temperature rise would produce irreversible changes on a planetary level.

On the other hand, if we accept a list of unalienable human rights, among them we should, sooner or later, place the right of Third World countries to develop their economies and rise their material level of life accordingly. Four fifths of the world consider that specific human right as a vital issue.

Any impartial individual confronted with the above mentioned dilemma could not possibly avoid the conclusion that in order to save our planet from ecological destabilization and, at the same time, conform to social justice requirements some of the wealth produced in the North should be transferred to the South. We should support a kind of autonomous development based on local needs and cultural sensibilities.

Unfortunately, our societies do not consist of impartial individuals. We belong to specific social groups, having specific interests that make all the above argumentation seem idealistic. Only very rich societies obey the 0.7% of GNP go to Third World countries UN directive. Nevertheless, other analysts predict such “altruistic” behavior might become a compulsory path to sustainability. Their example of China’s imminent development is telling: this huge Third World country holds the biggest deposits of coal among non-industrialized states. Because of that coal’s poor quality and its ineffective combustion, that same country was (in 1989) the third largest emitter of SO2 after the (then) Soviet Union and the United States, with the concomitant export of both acid rain and CO2 to the neighboring countries and the planet atmosphere. Unless Western societies decide to act “altruistically” (helping China to develop alternative sources of energy to base its economy on them), they are bound to suffer more than if they decided not to interfere.

This is one of the conclusions pointing to the direction of a Sustainable Development informed by both ecological and social justice arguments.

The Global Dimension

Until the 1980’s environmentalists were focusing on village communities or on national level arguments and actions. Their concern with the entire planet was not that strong. According to their point of view, ecological stability should be looked after, in order for those communities or nations to gain more economic and political independence (Sachs, 1980). Today, though, after the unprecedented revolution in the history of human perception (an outcome of space travels?), the dominant environmentalist view coincided with the astronaut’s view: It perceives the Earth as an object for environmental management (Sachs, 1993). This is a cognitive parameter for the above-mentioned ideological shift. There are also political, scientific and technological reasons: politically it was during the 1980’s that the planetary environmental problems became very clear. Ozone depletion, acid rain, greenhouse effect and rain forest destruction affect all the globe. Scientifically, ecological research focused on biosphere, rather than on single ecosystems e.g. oceans, deserts, forests. Technologically, a new generation of instruments (satellites, sensors and computers) permitted the collection and processing of data on the whole planet. Therefore, global management meets sustainability and out of the synthesis of the two a number of questions emerges: Is there any organization willing or able to undertake such a colossal task taken on by several organizations such as the USA government or an interstate organization like the UN. Consequently, it seems that the call for a worldwide surveillance and management, inadvertently paves the way for an authoritarian governance of the planet itself. Taking into account the balance of power between the North and the South, one is inclined to believe that the politically and economically powerful North is going to prepare the agenda of subjects to be discussed on the road toward sustainability, as they had already done in Rio: instead of discussing the plight of industrial countries (agri-business, automobiles, or free trade) conventions on biodiversity and forests were put on the table. Increasingly the North has a growing interest in influencing and shaping the South, in the name of the planet risk prevention. There is an obvious inequity here summarized very lucidly by Sachs (1993)

Indeed, did Senegalese peasants ever pretend to have a say in Europe’s energy consumption, or did the people of Amazonia ever rush to North America to protect the forest in Canada and the Pacific North West?

Heading towards global sustainable development we must be very careful about possible conflicts with cultural rights, democracy and self-determination. The Kyoto conference provides a convincing argument on how the predominant powers can deprive sustainable development from its “equity” ingredient: levels of CO2 emissions will have to stabilize in their 1990 standard, but, meanwhile, the already industrialized countries can buy “rights to pollute” (i.e. rights to develop) from the underdeveloped countries. Obviously that procedure will deepen the gap between the North and the South and reaffirm the existing balance of power.

The emerging non-anthropocentric ethic

After paying off our dept to human world, we should look closer at the non-human component of the planet. Is it really enough to recognize that we have moral obligations toward humans? Or do we have to extend the field of those obligations in order to include non-human beings as well? Both everyday experience and philosophers dealing with ethical reasoning, increasingly point to the second direction. More and more laymen claim they have the duty to save a species, a landscape, a forest or the planet itself. Philosophers claim the traditional view of seeing the natural world, as a resources store having instrumental value only, is the main reason behind the ecological destabilization of today (Attfield, 1990, pp 1-20). Therefore, we need to challenge that anthropocentric view by trying to argue that non humans (animals, plants, ecosystems, Biosphere) can be assigned intrinsic value (Taylor, 1986, Leopold, 1948). Intrinsic value of an object is that value it has, which does not contribute to the value of another object. Consequently we can reasonably argue about that value of non-human life forms, which is independent of the usefulness they may have for narrow human purposes (Naess, 1973).

The definition of sustainable development seems to promote an ethical position where both enlightened human self interest and future generations interests are given ethical consideration, but there is no space for deliberations on whether we should confer intrinsic value to non-humans. That position was called weak anthropocentrism and although it indisputably provides better shaped theoretical and practical arguments than the traditional, extreme, strong anthropocentric version of ethics, it still lags behind the required broadening of moral community, in order to include all forms of life.

Of course, there is good reason to argue that the further we depart from all traditional concepts regulating ethical behavior and boundaries of moral consideration in search of an environmental ethics, the more difficult it becomes to explain and justify our position. Especially the notion of intrinsic value is met with skepticism (Desjardins, 1993), due in part to the fact that we seem to lack the vocabulary to address such a colossal cosmological shift in our thinking. Nevertheless it should be stressed that unless we decide to act more and more toward ecocentric directions, we are bound to repeat every single mistake of the past.


  • Attfield, R (1983), The Ethics of Environmental Concern, Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Desjardins, J.R (1993) Environmental Ethics: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, California.
  • Durning A.B (1989) Poverty and the Environment: Reversing the Downward Spiral, Wordwatch Paper No 92, Worldwatch Institute, Washington.
  • Hicks, J.R (1946) Value and Capital, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
  • Khah A.M (1995) Sustainable Development: The Key Concepts, Issues and Implications, Sustainalbe Development, 3, pp 63-69.
  • Leopold, A (1948) The Land Ethic, in A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, Oxford University Press, New York.
  • Naess, A (1973), The Shallow and the Deep, Long Range Ecology Movement. A Summary, Inquiry, 16 pp. 95-100.
  • Newsletter of the European Anti Poverty Network (1997) Supplement to No 49, Brussels.
  • Norton, B.G (1987), Why Preserve Natural Variety, Princeton, NJ.
  • O’Riordan, T (1988) The politics of sustainability, in R.K.Turner (ed.) Sustainable Environmental Management: Principles and Practice, London, Belhaven in association with the Economic and Social Research Council, pp 29-50.
  • Redclift, M (1987), Sustainable Development: Exploring the Contradictions Methuen, London.
  • Reid, D (1995), Sustainable Development: An Introductory Guide, Earthscan Publications Ltd, London.
  • Repetto, R (1992) Dimensions of Sustainable Development, in World Resources 1992-93, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Sachs, W (1993) In the Wke of Rio, in W.Sachs (ed.) Global Ecology, Zed Books, London.
  • Skolimowski, H (1995) In Defence of Sustainable Development, Environmental Values, 4, pp 69-70.
  • Smith, J.W (1991) The High Tech Fix: Sustainable Ecology or Technocratic Megaprojects for the Twenty-first Century, Aldershot, Academic Publishing Group.
  • Sterling S (1994)
  • Taylor (1986), Respect for Nature, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.
  • UNDP (1991) Human Development Report, Oxford University Press, New York.
  • UNDP (1994) Human Development Report, Oxford University Press, New York.

Alex. Georgopoulos is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Education in the Early Childhood Education Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Nicholas Kokkas: Incorporating Environmental Values in Language Teaching

Nicholas Kokkas

Much of what happens in the world today is the result of ignorance. Although most educational systems worldwide have recently incorporated environmental education in their curriculum there doesn’t seem to be a great change in people’s attitude towards nature. Unfortunately, the educational goals usually set by governments are only related to training for work and helping a nation’s competitiveness, ignoring the importance of learning to live in harmony with nature and with each other. Most people still see nature only as a source of raw materials whereas few realize how important biodiversity is to the balance of ecosystems. Loving nature does not only imply a sense of beauty in front of the wonders of the world; it also means having deep respect for all the components of nature and developing an ethical attitude comprising empathy towards other species, other people and future generations. The answer to the question: “Who will save the world?” is “The next generation will, if they realize that the ecological deterioration of the planet has gone too far”.

According to its definition, environmental education aims to provide young people with opportunities to develop values, attitudes and skills needed to understand and protect the environment. This can only be done by encouraging students to examine and interpret the environment from a variety of perspectives: physical, geographical, biological, economic, political, technological, historical, moral and aesthetic. The study of environmental issues should be incorporated into all subjects at all levels as the nature of environmental education is cross-curricular. Foreign language teaching should also include principles and values related to conservation and sustainability since a language teacher retells the story of the world from the very beginning, reshaping a child’s system of values through the process of foreign language learning.

How can F.L. teaching help students become environmentally conscious? How can students understand that the fundamental issues of our lives are the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we inhabit? There are various ways in which pupils can be involved in actions that would help them realize the way nature works. Besides the didactic role of teachers giving information and facilitating children to come to certain important conclusions, project work and practical sustainable actions would make students learn how to think and act in an environmentally friendly way.

The starting point could be a textbook. Most of them give teachers the opportunity to focus on environmental issues and make students see that much that is happening today is threatening the balance of nature. There are also numerous activities that teachers could organize in a language class in order to emphasize the importance of environmental values. A classroom activity could involve, for example, observing animal photographs, discussing natural processes, predicting the future of the planet, comparing the past with the present etc. We could also organize a debate during which controversial points are compared and contrasted.

One of the most creative ways of emphasizing environmental values could be problem-solving activities in which students are expected to find a solution to a specific environmental problem. These activities could be carried out with the class as a whole or by working in small teams. These activities could either be within the class or outdoors involving field work. For example during an excursion to a river students could investigate the ecosystem of a river by describing its components. Practical work such as measuring the depth and temperature of water, determining the wind movement, determining the role of sunlight and rain would not only add knowledge to students; they would increase their self-awareness helping them to identify and explore environmental values.

Let’s now mention some examples of language activities aiming at the enhancement of environmental awareness:

  • Write on the board the names of some animals and ask the following questions:

Where does X live?

What is X like?

  • Write the names of some products and ask about their materials:

What is X made of?

How did X get like this?

  • Practise Conditional Speech by writing describing some hypothetical situations and asking:

What would happen if……?

e.g. the sun died?

all birds disappeared?

forests were burnt?

a river was polluted? etc

In questions like these knowledge of nature is associated with deep comprehension of environmental processes. Teachers should not be afraid if they do not know the answers to such questions. What matters is developing thinking strategies in order to find possible answers. Moreover, there is not only one answer to similar questions.

Another language activity could be role-playing. In a role-playing activity children could assume the roles of animals that are under extinction and complain about the destruction of their habitat. In a theatrical game some students could play the roles of chemical substances polluting Mother Earth whereas the girl playing Mother Earth could prepare some moving speeches about her children: the River, the Lake, the Wind, the Sea etc. It is a funny activity that could also be presented in front of a wider audience.

Vocabulary teaching can also help a lot. For example, while introducing transport vocabulary, a teacher can mention that carbon dioxide emissions are a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and the consequential global warming. However, it would be much better if he/she let students make this remark or if he could assist their understanding of the world in such a way that they could develop a positive attitude towards nature.

As far as writing is concerned, students could be asked to write a dialogue between two friends on recycling paper and aluminium at school (other topics could be acid rain, or the extinction of animals). One of them would support recycling while the other would consider it a waste of time. Thousands of similar topics could be explored in the same way. A school exhibition of environmental projects would also be a good reason for students to work in teams, collect photographs and information and present everything on cardboard.

Τhe World Wide Web could also be an extremely powerful tool in the exploration of environmental subjects. In those schools where computer laboratories have an Internet connection students could be assigned environmental projects. Students are highly motivated by such tasks, as they are exposed to authentic material, while they remain the ones choosing both their topics and the way they explore them.

It is necessary for teachers wishing to introduce environmental issues in their classroom to be able to present each ecosystem as a system of interrelationships among organisms and between organisms and the physical environment, a community of different species interacting with each other.

However, mere teaching is not enough. Participation and committed action are also essential to clear understanding of sustainability. Pupils will only understand environmental values if they are given the chance to develop their thinking skills through investigation and focused exploration. Using examples from daily life we can help students make a choice between different solutions to serious problems. It is important to let pupils learn through their own observations rather than force them reproduce our own theories.

“Green” ideas have influenced greatly the way we think and act in the last few years. However, there is still a lot to be done till the school curriculum is greened, too. As long as there will be tension between economic development and the necessity of conservation, environmental education will have to be at the core of every educational system.

We cannot go on living as if there were no tomorrow. Foreign language teachers should concentrate their efforts on encouraging students to think as citizens of a global community, with a sense of responsibility for maintaining the well being of all the inhabitants of the earth, both human and non-human.


Baer-Brown Leslie, et al (1995) Earth Keepers: A Sourcebook for Environmental Issues and Action, Mercury House

Huckle, John and Stephen Sterling (editors)(1996) Education for Sustainability, Earthscan Publications, London

Michener, Dorothy, et al (1995) The Green Team: Winning Ideas and Activities to Promote Environmental Awareness, Incentive Publications

Palmer, Joy and Philip Neal (1994) The Handbook of Environmental Education, Routledge

Reid, David (1995) Sustainable DevelopmentAn Introductory Guide, Earthscan Publications

Seabury, Debra (1994) Earth Smart! / Ready-To-Use Environmental Activities for the Elementary Classroom, Center for Applied Research in Education

* Nicholas Kokkas holds a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Athens and an M.A. in “Tragedy in the Age of Shakespeare” from the University of Hull. He is currently working as a state Secondary School teacher in Xanthi.

Kiki Fournari: A Joint Project: Human Exploitation of Rivers

Kiki Fournari

    Living next to the river Evros which forms the natural border between Greece and Turkey and being privileged to experience a unique Delta, internationally recognized as an important wetland, offering shelter to rare species of migratory birds, the ecological group of the Eniaio Polycladiko Lyceum of Alexandroupolis – now called 3rd Eniaio Lyceum – decided to work on a joint project, having as a theme the human exploitation of the rivers, motivated by a range of programmes launched and financed by the Greek Ministry of Education and the National Institution of Youth. The chosen partner schools were the Liceo Scientifico Statale “Leonardo” of Giarre, in Sicily, Italy, greatly concerned about their river Fiumefreddo, whose exceptionally cold water has allowed the development of a peculiar natural environment, in need of protection, and Kokkolan Ammatioppilaitos of Kokkola, Finland, whose river was also important to them, particularly because of fishing.

    The aim of the project was each participating school to study certain parameters of its river, such as history, flora and fauna, people’s attitude to the river, quality of the water, human activities developed in the riverside area and in the river itself. These data would give an idea how rivers are exploited by local residents. The comparison of the results of the study of each school would enable each country to adopt certain approaches and attitudes seeming beneficial to it. Furthermore, an international project such as this would aim at disseminating its conclusions not only nationally or to neighbouring countries, being also responsible for the exploitation of these rivers – as in the case of the river Evros three countries account for its exploitation, Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey – but giving a European aspect to it as well. Last but not least, the participating schools agreed that getting students being involved and working on an ecological issue, such as the one chosen, in cooperation with foreign students, would be an unforgettable experience, promoting international understanding and harmonious coexistence of peoples.

    Its extremely difficult to put on a scale the results of an ecological project and even more when it has been carried out by three countries working cooperatively. The reasons accounting for this difficulty arise from the numerousness of the results and the great significance of each of them.

    The students’ study of the three rivers gave them an insight not only into their geographical and historical characteristics, flora and fauna and various other aspects of tremendous significance but also into people’s attitudes to them. They became fully aware of the consequences of human interference in the rivers and the neighbouring regions and understood that national and/or international laws and conventions alone cannot prevent constant environmental degradation unless actions are taken, aiming at preserving the natural environment and its resources. They were also informed about the problems of each river and the potential solutions. Their research gave them the opportunity to experience the real methods of scientific research. They had to take water samples, analyse them, discuss the data, compare them, verify hypotheses and come to certain conclusions. It was absolutely necessary for them to make use of various computer programmes and to be involved in activities entailing the use of the English language. They had the opportunity to work in a team, both on a national and international level and to cooperate successfully.

    Exchanging visits to Finland, Italy and Greece was extremely beneficial, since students got acquainted with different cultures and ways of living. International relations were established and close friendships were formed. Every student or teacher having been involved in this project considers it to have been a substantial contribution to the shaping of a European consciousness.

* Kiki Fournari is a teacher of English at the 3rd Lyceum of Alexandroupolis, member of the Joint Project Group and Ph.D. candidate in the Democritus University of Thrace.

Παναγιώτης Σωτηρόπουλος: Πρότυπα Αειφορικής Ανάπτυξης

Παναγιώτης Σωτηρόπουλος

    Στη διάσκεψη κορυφής για το Ρίο το 1992, κύριο θέμα της προβληματικής που αναπτύχθηκε ήταν η αναζήτηση μιας ισόρροπης σχέσης μεταξύ της οικονομικής ανάπτυξης και της περιβαλλοντικής βιωσιμότητας. Την αυτονόητη διαπίστωση πως οι επιπτώσεις από την επιβάρυνση του περιβάλλοντος και την ανεξέλεγκτη διαχείριση των φυσικών πόρων δεν περιορίζονται στα στενά γεωγραφικά όρια όταν παρατηρούνται τέτοια φαινόμενα και αναπτύσσονται τέτοιες πρακτικές, ακολούθησε ο σκεπτικισμός για την δυνατότητα ανάληψης συντονισμένων ενεργειών σε διεθνή κλίμακα εξ’αιτίας συγκρουόμενων εθνικών συμφερόντων. Είναι κοινός τόπος σήμερα η διαπίστωση πως η αύξηση των επιπέδων εκπομπής ρύπων σ΄ένα κράτος μπορεί να επιβαρύνει και γειτονικές περιοχές πυροδοτώντας έτσι μια αιτιακή αλυσίδα που μεταφέρει μεγεθυμένα ή αμβλυμένα κατά περίπτωση τα προβλήματα που επάγονται με το τρόπο αυτό σε ευρεία κλίμακα. Οι διασυνοριακές επιπτώσεις είναι ορατές σε περιπτώσεις πυρηνικών ατυχημάτων, μόλυνσης ποταμών που διατρέχουν περισσότερες από μια χώρες.

    Η ίδια η φύση των περιβαλλοντικών ζητημάτων συναρτάται στενά με τα θέματα οργάνωσης της ενιαίας αγοράς, της γεωργικής ανάπτυξης, της εξάπλωσης και βελτίωσης του δικτύου μεταφορών, διευθέτησης των ενεργειακών αναγκών, της άσκησης βιομηχανικής και κοινωνικής πολιτικής.

    Η μικροκοσμική, αποσπασματική και άτολμη παρέμβαση, τόσο σε επίπεδο διεθνών διασκέψεων όσο και σε επίπεδο Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης δεν απέφεραν ως καρπούς μια σαφή νομική και πολιτική στήριξη για την προστασία του περιβάλλοντος και ούτε μια απλή θεσπισμένη κατοχύρωση αυτού που προβάλλει ως τυπικά απαιτητό. Η λήψη αντιφατικών, ευμετάβλητων και εξουσιαστικά αναστρέψιμων μέτρων επαναφέρουν την προβληματική στο αφετηριακό σημείο εκκίνησής της.

    Σε πόσες περιπτώσεις η άσκηση συγκεκριμένης πολιτικής στον τομέα της γεωργίας και των μεταφορών συνοδεύεται από μια τεκμηριωμένη και άδολη εκτίμηση περιβαλλοντικών επιπτώσεων, πριν υποβληθούν προς έγκριση ;

    Γιατί πρέπει ανακαλύπτουμε εκ των υστέρων, σε μια απέλπιδη προσπάθεια μετάθεσης ευθυνών και εξορκισμού του κακού πως για την καθυστέρηση της Εγνατίας οδού για παράδειγμα ευθύνονται οι “αρκουδολόγοι” και όχι οι ανάλγητοι της πολιτικής και των διαπλεκομένων;

    Το μέλλον δεν είναι ζοφερό, όμως ίσως διαφαίνεται από το προκείμενο. Η αυξανόμενη ευαισθησία των πολιτών σε ζητήματα που αφορούν το περιβάλλον και ο σχεδιασμός πιλοτικών δράσεων αποτελούν ενθαρρυντικά μηνύματα. Η μείωση των εκπομπών ρύπων την τελευταία δεκαετία με την υποχρεωτική χρήση καταλυτικών μετατροπέων και η προσπάθεια σταθεροποίησης των επιπέδων αυτών για τα επόμενα 4 χρόνια αποτελεί αναμφίβολα μια κατάκτηση. Από την άλλη όμως, θα πρέπει να μας προβληματίσει το γεγονός, με δεδομένο ότι ενώ η ΕΕ είναι υπεύθυνη για το 16% των παγκοσμίων εκπομπών CO2, για την μείωση του ποσοστού αυτού προτάθηκε η επιβολή φόρου διοξειδίου του άνθρακα CO2/ενέργειας η πρόταση αυτή δεν έγινε αποδεκτή από το σύνολο των μελών για να μην επιβαρυνθεί το κόστος παραγωγής.

    Είναι προφανές πως δεν είχε ωριμάσει πολιτικά ή μεταστροφή από τη φορολόγηση του εργατικού δυναμικού στη φορολόγηση των φυσικών πόρων.

    Θεωρείται εκ προοιμίου δεδομένο πως η αντιμετώπιση της εύθραυστης ισορροπίας που συνέχει την οικονομική ανάπτυξη και τη διαχείριση των φυσικών πόρων αποτελεί δυσεπίλυτο πρόβλημα που αφορά τις επιστημολογικές δυνατότητες μιας ορθολογικής συλλογικής στοχοθεσίας και στρατηγικής. Συχνά αναφέρεται πως η δυσκολία πηγάζει από τη λογική αδυναμία του κεφαλαιοκρατικού συστήματος να ορίσει ένα εσωτερικά αρραγές σύστημα συμπεριφορών και πρακτικών.

    Έτσι παρατηρείται μια αντίφαση, διαρθρωτική και ενδημική, που καθιστά ανισοβαρή τη σχέση ανάμεσα στις μορφές ανάπτυξης που προκρίνονται και στην εκμετάλλευση των φυσικών πόρων.

    Η αναγόρευση της αυτόδηλης οικονομικής λογικής σε κύριο σημαίνον της πολιτικής πρακτικής οδηγεί σε εξελίξεις λειτουργικά προεγεγραμμένες. Η δαψίλεια της φύσης υποτάσσεται στον πειρασμό του εφήμερου κέρδους. Το πρόβλημα σήμερα είναι η διαταραχή που προκαλείται με την ανθρώπινη παρέμβαση σε ένα εύθραυστο οικοσύστημα που διασφαλίζει την οικονομία των φυσικών πόρων όπως αυτή είναι δοκιμασμένη στο χρόνο και απαραίτητη για το μέλλον.

    Η πολιτική που εφαρμόζεται από τις αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες βασίζεται στην εγκατάσταση και άκριτη αποδοχή ενός συστήματος παραγωγής και υιοθέτησης προτύπων ανάπτυξης δίχως την απαραίτητη ιστορική διαμεσολάβηση που καλλιεργεί νοοτροπίες και ετοιμάζει τις υποδομές. Το πρότυπο της βιομηχανικής ανάπτυξης εξαπλώνεται κατά κανόνα όπου του παρέχονται οι εμπράγματες προϋποθέσεις γι’αυτό. Οτιδήποτε αφορά τις κοινωνικές σχέσεις που επάγονται από τις νέες οικονομικές πρακτικές παρέχεται από ένα καταναγκαστικό θεσμικό πλαίσιο.

    Η παραδοσιακή μέθοδος μέτρησης παραγωγικότητας της εργασίας ακολουθεί ένα μικροοικονομικό, αντισυστημικό πρότυπο εκτίμησης της επιβάρυνσης που προκύπτει από τη λήψη δεσμευτικών μέτρων για την προστασία του περιβάλλοντος. Σύμφωνα με την αντίληψη αυτή, η προστασία του περιβάλλοντος μειώνει τα κέρδη της παραγωγικότητας. Στη πραγματικότητα, πρόκειται για μια μεθοδολογική αρχή που δεν είναι ανταγωνιστικά ορθή, καθώς δεν επιμερίζει το βάρος των συνεπειών από την επιβάρυνση του περιβάλλοντος σε αυτούς που πραγματικά είναι υπεύθυνοι. Θεωρούν έτσι ότι η αγορά εξοπλισμού για τον περιορισμό των ρύπων προκαλεί αύξηση του κόστους παραγωγής χωρίς αντίστοιχη αύξηση της αξίας των παραγόμενων προϊόντων. Στη λογιστική αυτή αντιστροφή, ο υπολογισμός της παραγωγικότητας δεν ενσωματώνει τη μείωση της εκπομπής ρύπων στη δραστηριότητα της επιχείρησης αν και οι περιβαλλοντικές ρυθμίσεις εμφανίζουν μακροπρόθεσμα οφέλη για το σύνολο της κοινωνίας. Οι οικονομολόγοι που υπολογίζουν ότι οι περιβαλλοντικές ρυθμίσεις συμπιέζουν την παραγωγικότητα των χωρών λησμονούν ότι και η ρύπανση του περιβάλλοντος έχει κι αυτή κόστος. Οι μελέτες αυτές δεν στηρίζονται στην αρχή του ενεργειακού ισοσκελισμού που δείχνει με ποιο τρόπο οι εισροές της βιομηχανικής παραγωγής καταλήγουν, ένα μέρος σε προϊόντα με εμπορευματική αξία και ένα μέρος σε απόβλητα δίχως εμπορική αξία. Τα μη εμπορεύσιμα κατάλοιπα όμως που προκύπτουν στα διάφορα στάδια της παραγωγικής διαδικασίας έχουν ένα αναμφισβήτητο οικονομικό και κοινωνικό κόστος που όμως παραλείπονται στη μέτρηση. Μελέτες απέδειξαν πως ο συνυπολογισμός του κόστους που προκαλείται από την επιβάρυνση του περιβάλλοντος μπορεί να συμβάλλει στην αύξηση της παραγωγικότητας, εφόσον οι επιχειρήσεις αναθεωρήσουν το τρόπο μέτρησης της παραγωγικότητας που στηρίζεται, όπως τονίσαμε παραπάνω, σε μια ατελή αναπαράσταση του παραγωγικού κύκλου και σε μια σκόπιμα εσφαλμένη εκτίμηση του κέρδους της παραγωγικότητας .

    Η αειφορική ανάπτυξη, επιθετικός προσδιορισμός της βιώσιμης και αυτοσυντηρούμενης ανάπτυξης, προβάλλει ως ιδιοφυής επινόηση και ως προσπάθεια συναινετικής εκδοχής δύο φαινομενικά αντιφατικών στοιχείων: της διασφάλισης της οικονομικής ανάπτυξης και της προστασίας του περιβάλλοντος. Μια συστημική θεώρηση του κύκλου παραγωγής επιτρέπει την εκπόνηση ενός προτύπου με την αναγνώριση των αντικειμένων και των σχέσεων που συγκροτούν τη δομή του, την επαλήθευση της συνάφειάς τους και την ανάδειξη των συνθηκών εφαρμογής τους στην μοντελοποίηση των αντικειμένων του πραγματικού κόσμου. Το σημαντικότερο είναι πως η συστημική προσέγγιση εξ ορισμού ενσωματώνει τη μείωση της επιβάρυνσης του περιβάλλοντος στη λογιστική αποτίμηση του κύκλου παραγωγής. Μέσα από την συστημική μεθοδολογική προοπτική που προτείνει το αειφορικό πρότυπο ανάπτυξης τα φυσικά συστήματα εκλαμβάνονται ως συντονιστές διεπαφής στην ολότητα της φύσης.

    Ο επαναπροσδιορισμός της σχέσης οικονομίας και περιβάλλοντος οδηγεί αναγκαστικά στην αλλαγή του τρόπου εκπόνησης του κόστους της παραγωγικής διαδικασίας. Μόνο με την υιοθέτηση ενός αειφορικού προτύπου ανάπτυξης θα επιτευχθούν η ισορροπία ανάμεσα στο προστατεύσιμο και το αξιοποιήσιμο, η εναρμόνιση ανάμεσα στο οικονομικά εφικτό και στο τεχνικά επιτεύξιμο, άκοπα, δίχως απώλειες για το περιβάλλον και χωρίς κοινωνικές συγκρούσεις.

* Ο Δρ. Παναγιώτης Σωτηρόπουλος είναι διδάσκων στο Τμήμα Μηχανικών Περιβάλλοντος της Πολυτεχνικής Σχολής Ξάνθης, καθηγητής Μαθηματικών στη Δ/νση Β΄θμιας Εκπαίδευσης Ν. Ξάνθης και συντονιστής-επιμορφωτής προγραμμάτων εισαγωγής της δικτυακής και υπολογιστικής τεχνολογίας σε Γυμνάσια και Λύκεια του Ν. Ξάνθης.

Παναγιώτα Τσελεκτσίδου: Τοπικό Δίκτυο προγράμματος Π.Ε. “Το Σχολείο μας”

Παναγιώτα Τσελεκτσίδου

    Το σχολείο είναι ο χώρος που εκεί οι μαθητές, περνούν ένα μεγάλο μέρος της ζωής τους. Είναι πολύ σημαντικό, αυτός ο χώρος να γίνει φιλικός προς τη ψυχοσύνθεση των νέων ανθρώπων, να γίνει ένας χώρος αποδεκτός και ευχάριστος στη ψυχική διάθεση των μαθητών.

    “Το σχολείο” είναι ένας κοινωνικός θεσμός. Διαμέσου της λειτουργίας του εκπαιδευτικού ιδρύματος “σχολείου” – δημοτικό, γυμνάσιο, λύκειο – επιχειρείται από την Πολιτεία η εκπαίδευση των νέων ανθρώπων.

    Η λειτουργία του θεσμού και η λειτουργικότητα του χώρου εφαρμογής του θεσμού είναι δύο πυλώνες που έχουν ανάγκη την ηθική συμπαράσταση και συνεργασία των ίδιων των μαθητών για να αποδώσουν αποτελεσματικά και να συμβάλλουν στη κοινωνικοποίηση των νέων. Για να συνεργαστούν οι νέοι πρέπει να νοιώθουν ευχαρίστηση και ασφάλεια μέσα στο χώρο σχολείο και μέσα στο θεσμό “σχολείο”.

    Ενας αποτελεσματικός τρόπος για την επιτυχία των δύο αυτών στόχων είναι η γνωριμία (η γνώση) των παιδιών με το αντικείμενο (σχολείο). Η υλοποίηση ενός Προγράμματος Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευσης με βιωματική μέθοδο δίνει την ευκαιρία στα παιδιά να αγγίξουν, να μελετήσουν, να γνωρίσουν, να αγαπήσουν και να προτείνουν το “δικό τους” σχολείο.


    Κατά τη σχολική χρονιά 1998-’99 το πρόγραμμα υλοποιήθηκε πιλοτικά σε γυμνάσια του Ν. Καβάλας. Εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρουσα αυτή η φάση πιλοτικής εφαρμογής. Κατ’ αρχήν στάλθηκε το έγγραφο από τη Διεύθυνση Β/θμιας Εκπ/σης, Υπεύθυνης Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπ/σης. Έπειτα εντοπίστηκαν οι ενδιαφερόμενοι εκπαιδευτικοί από τη συντονίστρια – Υπεύθυνη Π.Ε. και πραγματοποιήθηκαν ειδικές συναντήσεις – συναντήσεις εργασίας.

Περιγραφή των φάσεων υλοποίησης του προγράμματος

Α. Σχεδιασμός του προγράμματος (2 εβδομάδες). Επιχειρείται, κατ’ αρχήν, ανίχνευση των διαθέσεων των μαθητών με συζήτηση και ανάλυση των κριτηρίων επιλογής του θέματος. Το Πρόγραμμα έχει αντικείμενο το σχολείο, Το Περιβάλλον του σχολείου. Το Φυσικό Περιβάλλον, το Κοινωνικό και Ιστορικό Περιβάλλον, το Δομημένο περιβάλλον. Ασχολείται με την ίδρυση και την ιστορική αναδρομή της λειτουργίας του σχολείου, το κτίριο, τους εκπαιδευτικούς που δίδαξαν, τους μαθητές που πέρασαν.

Β. Οργάνωση ομάδας. Στόχοι Μεθοδολογία (3 εβδομάδες). Σ’ αυτή τη φάση η ομάδα οργανώνεται, καθορίζεται στους στόχους της και αποφασίζει τα “βήματα” και τις μεθόδους που θα ακολουθήσει. Προσδιορίζονται τα υποθέματα και συγκρατούνται οι αντίστοιχες υποομάδες. Ακολουθεί συζήτηση και ανακύπτουν ερωτήματα. Προκύπτει η αναζήτηση υλικού και οι πηγές πληροφόρησης.

Γ. Αναζήτηση υλικού και πληροφοριών (6-8 εβδομάδες). Η ομάδα δρα εκτός σχολείου, στους χώρους έρευνας. Οι υποομάδες πραγματοποιούν επισκέψεις στις πηγές πληροφόρησης, στους συνεργαζόμενους φορείς, σε ειδικευμένα άτομα και παίρνουν συνεντεύξεις. Οι μαθητές παρατηρούν, καταγράφουν, φωτογραφίζουν. Επίσης συγκεντρώνουν δημοσιογραφικό υλικό σχετικό με το θέμα.

    Η ερευνητική εργασία των παιδιών έγινε με τη συνεργασία της τοπικής κοινωνίας. Έγινε συλλογή – έκθεση φωτογραφιών παλαιοτέρων εποχών.

Δ. Σύνθεση. Κριτική επεξεργασία του υλικού (7-9 εβδομάδες) Αξιολογείται το υλικό που έχει συγκεντρωθεί στην προηγούμενη φάση, όπως πληροφορίες από φορείς – πρόσωπα, μαρτυρίες μαθητών και δασκάλων (και προηγούμενων ετών), συνεντεύξεις, δημοσιευμένο εκπαιδευτικό υλικό στον τοπικό τύπο, δράσεις – δραστηριότητες του σχολείου στα εκπαιδευτικά θέματα, αλλά και τη μαθητική παρέμβαση στη τοπική κοινωνία.

    Αξιοποιούνται υλικά μέσα για την επεξεργασία του υλικού που συγκεντρώθηκε και προκύπτουν δημιουργίες χρήσιμες για την κατανόηση, αφομοίωση του θέματος καθώς και για την παρουσίαση του σε τρίτους. Εχουμε τη δημιουργία κατασκευής ταμπλό.

    Απ’ όλη την έρευνα προέκυψε μια συλλογική (ολιστική) εικόνα του κάθε σχολείου, ένα ψηφιδωτό πολυδιάστατο που περιλαμβάνει το Φυσικό Περιβάλλον, το Κοινωνικό, Ιστορικό, και Δομημένο Περιβάλλον του σχολείου. Οι ομάδες των διαφόρων σχολείων, ανάλογα με την ιδιαιτερότητα, εντόπισαν την έρευνά τους και σε διαφορετικές πλευρές που θέματος.

    Το 5ο Γ/σιο έδωσε έμφαση στην έρευνα για την αρχιτεκτονική και την ιστορία του κτιρίου, γιατί το κτίριο είναι μνημείο. Το Πειραματικό Γ/σιο επικέντρωσε την έρευνά του στην λειτουργία του σχολείου – θεσμού πειραματικού σχολείου και το έμψυχο δυναμικό (καθηγητές – μαθητές) που πέρασαν απ’ αυτό το σχολείο. Το Μουσικό Γυμνάσιο ασχολήθηκε με την λειτουργία του σχολείου – θεσμού του μουσικού γυμνασίου και τις προτάσεις για κτιριακή λύση (διότι προς το παρόν φιλοξενείται). Το 6ο Ενιαίο Λύκειο (πρώην Πολυκλαδικό) ασχολήθηκε με τον εσωτερικό χώρο και την δημιουργία αίθουσας για τις ώρες δημιουργικής απασχόλησης των μαθητών.

Ε. Παρουσίαση. Αξιολόγηση (3-4 εβδομάδες) Η ομάδα ετοιμάζει για την παρουσίαση ένα γραπτό κείμενο που περιλαμβάνει: τον αρχικό προβληματισμό, τον τρόπο εργασίας, τα σημαντικότερα ευρήματα κατά τη διάρκεια υλοποίησης του προγράμματος με κριτική τους παρουσίαση, απόψεις και προτάσεις των μαθητών για το θέμα, τρόπους επίλυσης προβλημάτων, σχόλια για το πρόγραμμα ως εμπειρία που τη βίωσαν δημιουργικά και αποτελεσματικά. Το γραπτό κείμενο συνοδεύεται από την ταυτόχρονη προβολή οργανικά ενταγμένων διαφανειών με σκίτσα και σχέδια.

Σ’ αυτή τη φάση επίσης αξιολογείται η επιτυχία των αρχικών στόχων.

Ημερίδα παρουσίασης αποτελεσμάτων Πιλοτικής Φάσης. Αξιολόγηση.

    Στο τέλος της σχολικής χρονιάς με την ολοκλήρωση της πιλοτικής φάσης πραγματοποιήθηκε Ημερίδα – Συνάντηση των Ομάδων Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπ/σης των σχολείων μελών του Δικτύου.

    Η Συνάντηση είχε μορφή γιορτής. Μια γιορτή των σχολείων για να παρουσιαστούν τ’ αποτελέσματα της έρευνας των μαθητών και φυσικά οι προτάσεις των παιδιών για ένα “άλλο σχολείο”, για ένα πιο φιλικό περιβάλλον σχολείου, για ένα σχολείο κατάλληλο σύμφωνα με την σκέψη των μαθητών, που θ’ αποτελούν τα παιδιά ένα κομμάτι του πάζλ ενταγμένο στο σύνολο απαραίτητο για την σφαιρική ύπαρξη του “νέου σχολείου”.

Από κάθε ομάδα ζητήθηκε να παρουσιάσει:

  • το περιεχόμενο, γενικό και εξειδικευμένο του προγράμματος που υλοποίησε σ’ όλη τη σχολική χρονιά.
  • τη μεθοδολογία που ακολούθησε
  • τα προϊόντα της υλοποίησης του προγράμματος
  • αξιολόγηση της επίτευξης των παιδαγωγικών στόχων που τέθηκαν από την αρχή

    Η παρουσίαση έγινε από τους μαθητές α) με διαλέξεις όπου εντάχθηκαν οργανικά διαφάνειες και slides που έδειχναν το περιβάλλον των σχολείων. β) με δρώμενα που έγραψαν και σκηνοθέτησαν οι μαθητές δραματοποιώντας την καθημερινή ζωή στο σχολείο. γ) με έκθεση φωτογραφικού υλικού σε ταμπλό.

    Στη γιορτή θα ‘ταν χρήσιμο να γίνει και μία τελετή ονοματοδοσίας του κάθε σχολείου, μ’ ένα όνομα που θα προέκυπτε από τις προτάσεις της ομάδας των παιδιών που υλοποιούν το Πρόγραμμα και θα έχει σχέση με κάποια προσωπικότητα ή μνημείο άμεσα συνδεδεμένο με το περιβάλλον του σχολείου.

Βιωματική Αξιολόγηση Στην αρχή της υλοποίησης του προγράμματος ζητήθηκε από τους μαθητές των ομάδων να εκφράσουν σ’ ένα χαρτί τη γνώμη τους και τα συναισθήματά τους για το σχολείο με ένα συνοπτικό τρόπο (γραφή ή ζωγραφιά) και μέσα σε 10’ της ώρας. Οι καταγραφές ήταν διστακτικές, αμήχανες ως αρνητικές. Ακολούθησε σχολιασμός και συζήτηση. Συμπερασματικά προέκυψε , ότι οι μαθητές έχουν μια εικόνα για το σχολείο που δεν τους ευχαριστεί και τους ικανοποιεί, τ’ αγαπούν όμως, επιθυμούν τις βελτιώσεις και αλλαγές για να το νοιώθουν “το χώρο τους”.

    Στο τέλος της υλοποίησης του προγράμματος σε μια από τις τελευταίες συναντήσεις ζητήθηκε εκ νέου από τους μαθητές των ομάδων να εκφραστούν με την ίδια μέθοδο για το σχολείο. Ήταν εκπληκτικό το γεγονός της διαφορετικότητας των απαντήσεων. Οι μαθητές στα σύντομα κείμενά τους είχαν αισιοδοξία, μια ικανοποίηση ότι έχουν τη δυνατότητα να προτείνουν, να παρέμβουν και επίσης μία τάση φιλικής ανοχής, διαλλακτικότητας και ελπίδας.

Αξιολόγηση του προγράμματος επίσης έγινε σε:

    Ειδικές συναντήσεις της συντονίστριας και των εκπαιδευτικών του κάθε σχολείου ξεχωριστά, μετά την ολοκλήρωση του προγράμματος με συζήτηση και σχολιασμό.

    Στη τελευταία συνεδρία της Ημερίδας έγινε συζήτηση με τους μαθητές όλων των ομάδων των σχολείων που πήραν μέρος στην υλοποίηση του προγράμματος. Τους ζητήθηκε να σχολιάσουν την εμπειρία τους και πως βλέπουν την προοπτική του σχολείου.

    Επίσης έγινε αξιολόγηση σε ολομέλεια των εκπαιδευτικών που συμμετείχαν στις παιδαγωγικές ομάδες των σχολείων – μελών του Δικτύου όπου εξέφρασαν την γνώμη τους για τα παιδαγωγικά αποτελέσματα του Προγράμματος.


    Από την αξιολόγηση της πιλοτικής εφαρμογής έγινε φανερό ότι η επέκταση της υλοποίησης του προγράμματος σε πολλές ομάδες Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπ/σης διαφόρων σχολείων θα ευαισθητοποιήσει τους μαθητές και θα τους οδηγήσει να υποβάλλουν προτάσεις ώστε να νοιώθουν το σχολείο τους το δικό τους χώρο.


Αθανασάκης Α. (1996) Οικοπεριβαλλοντική Παιδαγωγική, εκδόσεις Χρήστος Ε. Δαρδανός, Αθήνα.

Αλεξοπούλου Ι.-Γκλαβάς Σ. (1989) Σχολείο και Περιβάλλον, ΥΠΕΠΘ, Αθήνα

Σοφία Γαρδέλη, “Μεθοδολογική πρόταση για την Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση”, άρθρο στο περιοδικό “ΣΥΓΧΡΟΝΗ ΕΚΠΑΙΔΕΥΣΗ”, τεύχος 44.

Αλέξανδρος Γεωργόπουλος-Ελλισσάβετ Τσαλίκη, “Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση”, Εκδόσεις GUTENBERG, Αθήνα 1993.

Κλεάνθους –Παπαδημητρίου Μ. (1952) Η Νέα Αγωγή: Θεωρία και μέθοδοι, τομ. Α,Β,Γ, Αθήνα.

Ευγενία Φλογαϊτη, “Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση”, Ελληνικές Πανεπιστημιακές Εκδόσεις, Αθήνα 1993.

Φράγκος Χ. (1978) Ψυχοπαιδαγωγική, GUTENBERG, Αθήνα.

Β.Ι. Χαραλαμπόπουλος, “Οργάνωση της διδασκαλίας και της μάθησης γενικά”, Εκδόσεις GUTENBERG Αθήνα 1982.

Karl Frey, “ Η Μέθοδος Project”, Εκδόσεις ΚΥΡΙΑΚΙΔΗ, Θεσ/νικη 1986.

Robert F. Mager, “Διδακτικοί στόχοι και διδασκαλία”, Εκδόσεις Κυριακίδη, Θεσ/νίκη 1985 στη σειρά “Παιδαγωγική και Εκπαίδευση”.

* Η Παναγιώτα Τσελεκτσίδου είναι οικονομολόγος και υπεύθυνη Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπ/σης Δ/νσης Β/θμιας Εκπ/σης Ν. Καβάλας. Το κείμενο αυτό αποτέλεσε γραπτή ανακοίνωση με τη μορφή poster και δημοσιεύτηκε στα Πρακτικά του 1ου Πανελλήνιου Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευσης που οργάνωσε η Πανελλήνια Ένωση Εκπαιδευτικών για την Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση (Π.Ε.Ε.Κ.Π.Ε.) στην Αθήνα στη 8,9,10 Οκτωβρίου 1999.

Νίκος Γερμαντζίδης: Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση: Το πείραμα της Ξάνθης

Νίκος Γερμαντζίδης

    Η περιβαλλοντική εκπαίδευση δεν περιορίζεται στους τοίχους της σχολικής αίθουσας αλλά υπαγορεύει το άνοιγμα του Σχολείου στον φυσικό κόσμο και την κοινωνία. Ενθαρρύνει τους μαθητές στην μελέτη των φυσικών οικοσυστημάτων με τρόπο όμως ελκυστικό και συχνά συναρπαστικό: Τα παιδιά των δέκα – δώδεκα χρόνων έχουν έμφυτη την τάση για εξερεύνηση της φύσης, για περιπέτεια. Η Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση προσφέρει ευκαιρίες για μάθηση μέσα από δράσεις σε τόπους πλούσιους σε άγρια ζωή όπως οι λίμνες , τα ποτάμια και τα δάση ή σε οικισμούς όπου ο ανθρώπινος μόχθος θαυμαστά συνταίριαξε το κτίσμα με το τοπίο. Τα παιδιά λοιπόν δέχονται με ενθουσιασμό την πρόσκληση. Έτσι γίνονται μικροί “ερευνητές”, “φυσιοδίφες”, “φωτογράφοι”, “παρατηρητές πουλιών” , “ορειβάτες” “δημοσιογράφοι”, “αρχιτέκτονες” κ.α. Αναλαμβάνουν υπεύθυνα αυτούς τους ρόλους και συχνά το αποτέλεσμα είναι λαμπρό: Καταγράφουν σπάνια κι απειλούμενα είδη χλωρίδας και πανίδας , συλλέγουν στοιχεία για τους κινδύνους που απειλούν τη φύση, μαθαίνουν να παίρνουν συνεντεύξεις από τους κατοίκους και τους επαγγελματίες της περιοχής και συχνά αναλαμβάνουν πρωτοβουλίες για την ευαισθητοποίηση της σχολικής τους κοινότητας ή ακόμη και της τοπικής κοινωνίας.

Η υλοποίηση των προγραμμάτων Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευσης στη χώρα μας.

    Η (Π.Ε.) έχει προαιρετικό χαρακτήρα, υπαγορεύει τον επιτόπου σχεδιασμό εκπαιδευτικών προγραμμάτων κι απαιτεί αυτενέργεια από τη σχολική κοινότητα.. Έτσι, σε όλη τη χώρα, ενθαρρύνονται δάσκαλοι και μαθητές να σχεδιάσουν και να εφαρμόσουν το δικό τους πρόγραμμα δράσεων. Με τον τρόπο αυτό έχουν υλοποιηθεί εξαιρετικής εκπαιδευτικής αξίας προγράμματα αλλά από περιορισμένους αριθμούς μαθητών κι εκπαιδευτικών.Περιβαλλοντική εκπαίδευση για όλα τα παιδιά;

Το πείραμα της Ξάνθης.

    Αξίζει να σημειωθεί πως τα Δημοτικά Σχολεία της Ξάνθης ακολούθησαν ένα διαφορετικό τρόπο οργάνωσης κι εφαρμογής προγραμμάτων Π.Ε. από εκείνο που φαίνεται να έχει επικρατήσει : Κρίθηκε απαραίτητο, προκειμένου να διασφαλιστεί η θετική στάση και συμμετοχή των εκπαιδευτικών, να μην επιβαρυνθεί το έργο τους με την αναζήτηση του απαραίτητου εκπαιδευτικού υλικού. Έτσι τα βασικά σχέδια των προγραμμάτων Π.Ε. που υλοποιούν τα Δημοτικά Σχολεία της Ξάνθης σχεδιάστηκαν κι οργανώθηκαν από το Γραφείο Π.Ε..του Νομού και υποστηρίζονται από ένα ποικίλο ενημερωτικό κι εποπτικό υλικό.

Υποστηρίζοντας μια προσπάθεια.

    Έχει καταβληθεί κάθε προσπάθεια ώστε τα προτεινόμενα σχέδια δράσεων να υποστηρίζονται με το ανάλογο ενημερωτικό κι εποπτικό υλικό (εγχειρίδια προγραμμάτων, slides, video, βιβλία, αφίσες, περιοδικά,C.D. αλλά και με την συχνή παρουσία του Υπευθύνου Π.Ε. Ωστόσο η υποστήριξη αυτή δεν έπρεπε να αναστέλλει την πρωτοβουλία ή να περιορίζει την ευελιξία του εκπαιδευτικού . Το πρόβλημα αυτό φαίνεται να έχει βρει τη λύση του: Ενώ υπάρχουν εκπαιδευτικές δραστηριότητες κοινές για όλα τα τμήματα, όπως οι προβολές slides – video, η βασική εκπαιδευτική επίσκεψη στο πεδίο κ.α ακολουθούν επιμέρους θεματικές ενότητες όπως “το πρόγραμμα της λαγγόνας και της νανόχηνας” ή “οι υγρότοποι – γέφυρα στον άνθρωπο και το περιβάλλον” ή “τα αρπακτικά πουλιά” κ.α. που επιμελώς ενθαρρύνουν κάθε πρωτοβουλία που μπορεί να αναλάβουν μαθητές κι εκπαιδευτικοί.

Ενθαρρύνοντας πρωτοβουλίες.

    Τα προγράμματα μπορούν να χαρακτηριστούν “ανοικτής αρχιτεκτονικής” καθώς σχεδιάστηκαν έτσι που να εμπλουτίζονται και να επεκτείνονται διαρκώς με εργασίες μαθητών. Παράλληλα η προτεινόμενη δομή των προγραμμάτων υπαγορεύει το άνοιγμα του σχολείου στην ζωή : Οι εκπαιδευτικές δραστηριότητες προτείνονται έτσι που να μην μπορούν να ολοκληρωθούν χωρίς την συμμετοχή της τοπικής κοινωνίας, ενώ τα αποτελέσματα των εργασιών κοινοποιούνται με εκθέσεις, δημοσιεύσεις κλπ στους κατοίκους των περιοχών του προγράμματος.

Περιβαλλοντική εκπαίδευση για όλα τα παιδιά

    Η μεγάλη συμμετοχή εκπαιδευτικών και μαθητών δικαίωσε την επιλογή αυτή του “κεντρικού” σχεδιασμού από την πρώτη ακόμη κρίσιμη περίοδο της εφαρμογής του θεσμού (91’ – 94’ ) και καλλιέργησε ένα κλίμα γενικής αποδοχής του στην μικρή εκπαιδευτική κοινότητα της Ξάνθης. Χαρακτηριστικό παράδειγμα είναι και το πρόγραμμα μελέτης του διατηρητέου οικισμού με τίτλο “Ματιές στην Παλιά Πόλη και την Ιστορία του τόπου μας.”


    Η Παλιά Πόλη της Ξάνθης -ένα εξαίρετο διατηρητέο οικιστικό σύνολο- είχε γνωρίσει κατά τις δεκαετίες του 60’-70’ την εγκατάλειψη και το μαρασμό. Την τελευταία δεκαετία το κλίμα αυτό άρχισε να μεταβάλλεται ύστερα από το ενδιαφέρον που εκδήλωσαν για την τύχη αυτού του οικισμού αρχικά οι ιδιώτες και στη συνέχεια ο Δήμος της πόλης. Μάλιστα το έργο της ανάπλασης που έχει επιτελεστεί είναι ιδιαίτερα αξιόλογο. Ωστόσο τον οικισμό αυτό -όπως άλλωστε και κάθε διατηρητέο οικισμό- δεν μπορούν τα κρατικά ή κοινοτικά κονδύλια να του χαρίσουν την ανθρώπινη θέρμη. Ας μη ξεχνάμε πως εκείνο που πρέπει να αναζητήσουμε είναι οι μνήμες των ανθρώπων που χάνονται και που όταν τις ανασύρουμε θα χαρίσουν στους μαθητές μας τη ζεστασιά της γειτονιάς και της ήρεμης ζωής που έζησαν εκείνοι που έκτισαν κι ανέπτυξαν τις “παλιές πόλεις” σε θαυμαστή ισορροπία με το τοπίο. Κι αυτό δεν είναι νοσταλγία ή ρομαντισμός. Είναι το εφόδιο που οφείλουμε να δώσουμε στα σημερινά παιδιά των άθλιων τσιμεντουπόλεων για να μπορέσουν να εξανθρωπίσουν το περιβάλλον που τους κληροδοτήσαμε.

    Ο σχεδιασμός και η υλοποίηση του προγράμματος περιβαλλοντικής εκπαίδευσης με θέμα την Παλιά Πόλη της Ξάνθης έρχεται να καλύψει αυτήν την ανάγκη.

Οι εκπαιδευτικοί στόχοι, η δομή του προγράμματος και η υποστήριξη στο έργο του εκπαιδευτικού.

Α. Οι βασικοί εκπαιδευτικοί στόχοι του προγράμματος είναι :

    Να αποκτήσουν οι μαθητές μια αντίληψη του συνολικού περιβάλλοντος που συνθέτει την εικόνα της Παλιά Πόλης (αρχιτεκτονικού, πολεοδομικού, λαογραφικού, ιστορικού κι εθνολογικού)

    Να διερευνήσουν τη σχέση του δομημένου με το φυσικό περιβάλλον της περιοχής και να “αποκαλύψουν” την κρυμμένη αρμονία που συνέχει τον χώρο με τον πολιτισμό.

    Να αναπτύξουν μια θετική στάση απέναντι σε κάθε προσπάθεια- ατομική ή συλλογική – για τον σεβασμό της φυσιογνωμίας του οικισμού.

Β. Η δομή του προγράμματος.

    Το πρόγραμμα υποστηρίζεται από ένα εγχειρίδιο που εκδόθηκε το 1992 με την ευγενή χορηγία του ΠΑ.ΚΕ.ΘΡΑ. Το εγχειρίδιο περιλαμβάνει ένα βασικό σχέδιο οργανωμένο σε θεματικές ενότητες, ενημερωτικό υλικό για τους εκπαιδευτικούς αλλά κι εποπτικό υλικό για τους μαθητές . Το εγχειρίδιο αυτό είναι δομημένο στη λογική της ανοικτής αρχιτεκτονικής : Δεν σελιδοποιήθηκε και δεν βιβλιοδετήθηκε αφήνοντας ελεύθερο το πεδίο της διαρκούς συμπληρώσεως με την προσδοκία πως έτσι θα προκαλεί δασκάλους και παιδιά σ’ ένα δημιουργικό παιχνίδι έρευνας και γνώσης. Έτσι σιγά – σιγά κάθε σχολική μονάδα εμπλουτίζοντας κι επεκτείνοντας το εγχειρίδιο αυτό δημιουργεί ένα δικό της βοήθημα. Στο βαθμό που αυτό σταδιακά συμβαίνει θα ολοκληρώνεται παράλληλα η επίτευξη των στόχων του προγράμματος. Τα θεματικά πεδία που περιλαμβάνει είναι τα εξής: Οδηγό προβολής slides, οδηγό περιήγησης, δελτία καταγραφής κτιρίων, ενημερωτικό υλικό για την πολεοδομική δομή και την αρχιτεκτονική συγκρότηση του οικισμού, στοιχεία για τα χάνια και τις καπναποθήκες, οδηγό της τεχνικής συνεντεύξεων, ένα μεγάλο παιχνίδι στην Παλιά Πόλη, στοιχεία τοπικής ιστορίας κι ένα οδηγό θεμάτων για έρευνα με αντίστοιχο ευρετήριο.

Γ. Διαρκής υποστήριξη του προγράμματος.

    Στην αρχή κάθε σχολικής χρονιάς οι εκπαιδευτικοί που δηλώνουν συμμετοχή στο πρόγραμμα παρακολουθούν μια ημερίδα στα πλαίσια της οποίας έχουν την ευκαιρία να ενημερωθούν αλλά κυρίως να ανταλλάξουν εμπειρίες από την πορεία του προγράμματος. Έτσι μπορούν να αποφασίσουν αν θα εφαρμόσουν κάποιες κοινές για όλους δραστηριότητες όπως π.χ. είναι οι προβολές slides-video και οι περιηγήσεις ή αν θα οδηγήσουν τους μικρούς μαθητές σε μελέτη επιμέρους στοιχείων π.χ. “επαγγέλματα που χάνονται”, “θύμισες γειτονιάς”, “οι βρύσες ή τα πηγάδια”, “τα κτίρια και το τοπίο” κλπ. Σε όλες αυτές τις δράσεις καταβάλλεται ιδιαίτερη προσπάθεια ώστε να διασφαλίζεται η μέγιστη δυνατή υποστήριξη από το Γραφείο Π.Ε. της Δ/νσης. Αυτή η διαρκής υποστήριξη εξασφαλίζει και τα ιδιαίτερα υψηλά ποσοστά συμμετοχής: Κάθε χρόνο περισσότερα από 19 τμήματα, κυρίως Δ΄ τάξης, συμμετέχουν στο πρόγραμμα αυτό. Αξίζει να σημειωθεί πως ο αριθμός αυτός αντιπροσωπεύει το 80% – 90% των μαθητών της Δ΄τάξεως που υπηρετούν στα Σχολεία της πόλης. Τα ίδια παιδιά στην επόμενη σχολική χρονιά ως μαθητές της Ε΄τάξης θα συμμετέχουν στο πρόγραμμα των υγροτόπων μελετώντας τη Λίμνη Βιστωνίδα ή το Δέλτα του Νέστου και τέλος ως μαθητές της ΣΤ τάξης θα γνωρίσουν τα δάση της Ροδόπης. Με άλλα λόγια στόχος μας είναι οι μαθητές αφήνοντας το Δημοτικό Σχολείο πίσω τους να έχουν κερδίσει, μέσα στο παιχνίδι της περιβαλλοντικής εκπαίδευσης, μια ολοκληρωμένη εικόνα του πλούτου και της ποικιλίας των οικοσυστημάτων της περιοχής αλλά και του πολιτισμού που συμπλέκει τη φύση με τον άνθρωπο.

    Όπως γίνεται αντιληπτό, η δομή αυτή των προγραμμάτων μπορεί να εφαρμοστεί και σε άλλες περιοχές εξασφαλίζοντας καθολική συμμετοχή του τοπικού μαθητικού πληθυσμού με παράλληλη διατήρηση των ποιοτικών χαρακτηριστικών που πρέπει να αναγνωρίζουμε σε κάθε πρόγραμμα Π.Ε.

* Ο Νίκος Γερμαντζίδης είναι Υπεύθυνος Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευσης Α/θμιας Εκ/σης Ν.Ξάνθης

Παρασκευή Γεωργαντά: Η Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση στα σχολεία

Παρασκευή Γεωργαντά

    Η Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση δεν αποτελεί ένα συγκεκριμένο μάθημα, ούτε ποτέ τέθηκε θέμα προσθήκης κάποιου καινούργιου μαθήματος σχετικά με το περιβάλλον. Τα διάφορα μαθήματα διατηρούν την αυτονομία τους. ΄Αλλωστε μάθηση στην Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση δεν σημαίνει αποστήθιση κάποιου διδακτικού βιβλίου και ατέλειωτος μονόλογος του δασκάλου.

    Η Π.Ε είναι μια εκπαιδευτική διαδικασία που επιδιώκει να προσφέρει γνώσεις, να καθορίσει αξίες, να βοηθήσει το μαθητή ν΄ αναπτύξει δεξιότητες, να διαμορφώσει μόνος του στάσεις και γενικά έναν κώδικα συμπεριφοράς, που από τη μια μεριά θα του επιτρέπει να μάθει και ν΄ αξιολογήσει την περίπλοκη σχέση ανάμεσα στον άνθρωπο, την κουλτούρα του και το βιοφυσικό του περιβάλλον και από την άλλη να προτείνει λύσεις για τα περιβαλλοντικά και τα κοινωνικά προβλήματα και να μετέχει ενεργά στη διαμόρφωση, στη λήψη και την εκτέλεση των σχετικών αποφάσεων.

    Η Π.Ε δεν δεσμεύεται από το αναλυτικό πρόγραμμα και δεν έχει αυστηρά καθορισμένα όρια. Μπορεί να ενταχθεί σε όλα τα μαθήματα και περιλαμβάνει απλές και σύνθετες δραστηριότητες. Σχεδιάζεται από ομάδες καθηγητών διαφορετικών ειδικοτήτων και έτσι επιτυγχάνεται η διεπιστημονική προσέγγιση των θεμάτων.

    ΄Οταν λέμε Π.Ε εννοούμε το περιβάλλον με την πλατιά του έννοια. Συγκεκριμένα το φυσικό περιβάλλον και το ανθρωπογενές περιβάλλον, σε όλες τις επί μέρους εκφράσεις του. Δηλαδή κοινωνικό, ιστορικό αισθητικό κ.λ.π. Επιπλέον η Π.Ε περιλαμβάνει και άλλες δραστηριότητες όπως τη θεατρική παιδεία και τις πολιτιστικές εκδηλώσεις κ.ά.

    Στο ωρολόγιο πρόγραμμα προστίθεται ένα δίωρο Π.Ε την εβδομάδα ή ένα τετράωρο ανά δεκαπενθήμερο. Οι ώρες αυτές διατίθενται για επισκέψεις, έρευνες και προσπάθειες επίλυσης περιβαλλοντικών προβλημάτων. Τα προγράμματα Π.Ε προσανατολίζονται σε θέματα από το άμεσο περιβάλλον των μαθητών. Θέματα που μπορούν να ξεκινούν από την ύπαρξη του νέφους, τη ρύπανση του περιβάλλοντος μέχρι και την κακοποίηση αδέσποτων ζώων στις πόλεις. Μ΄ αυτόν τον τρόπο κινείται το ενδιαφέρον και προκαλείται η ενεργητική συμμετοχή των μαθητών στην αντιμετώπιση των προβλημάτων. Στη συνέχεια οι μαθητές μελετούν τις προτάσεις που υπάρχουν από τα θέματα, διαμορφώνουν δικές τους, τις οποίες στη συνέχεια τις κοινοποιούν στο σχολείο ή κοινότητα ή έξω απ΄αυτήν με μια σειρά δράσεων π.χ. εφημερίδες, ραδιόφωνα, εκθέσεις κ.ά.

Η εφαρμογή των προγραμμάτων Π.Ε. στα σχολεία της Δευτεροβάθμιας Εκπ/σης έχει στόχο:

  • Να γνωρίσουν οι μαθητές το φυσικό και κοινωνικό περιβάλλον και να συνειδητοποιήσουν τη σχέση του ανθρώπου με αυτό. ΄Ετσι θα ευαισθητοποιηθούν και θα νιώσουν πως ο άνθρωπος δεν έχει δικαίωμα να κακοποιεί τη φύση, γιατί μ΄ αυτόν τον τρόπο προκαλεί την καταστροφή του, αφού και ο ίδιος αποτελεί ένα μέρος της.
  • Να προσεγγίσουν κριτικά το περιβάλλον βασισμένοι σε οικολογικούς, πολιτικούς, κοινωνικούς και αισθητικούς συντελεστές και να δραστηριοποιηθούν ώστε να συμβάλλουν μέσα από ειδικά προγράμματα στη γενικότερη προσπάθεια για την επίλυση διαφόρων προβλημάτων

    Η υλοποίηση αυτών των ανωτέρω στόχων επιτυγχάνεται με προγράμματα στο σχεδιασμό των οποίων είναι απαραίτητη η συμμετοχή των εκπαιδευτικών. Ο εκπαιδευτικός ή η ομάδα εκπαιδευτικών καταρτίζουν το πρόγραμμα και σχεδιάζουν τις διαδικασίες εφαρμογής του.

    Καλούμε λοιπόν αυτούς τους καθηγητές που έχουν επιμορφωθεί στη φιλοσοφία, τις αρχές και την πρακτική εφαρμογής προγραμμάτων Π.Ε. από σεμινάρια που έχουν γίνει στην Ελλάδα και το εξωτερικό, αλλά ταυτόχρονα ενθαρρύνουμε και εκείνους τους οποίους δεν έχουν επιμορφωθεί για τις οποιασδήποτε προσπάθειες, αλλά και έχουν την διάθεση για πρωτοβουλίες στο χώρο της Π.Ε.. Οι καθηγητές αυτοί μπορούν να ενημερωθούν ειδικότερα για την Π.Ε , εάν απευθυνθούν στο γραφείο του Υπεύθυνου Π.Ε το οποίο βρίσκεται στη Δ/νση Β/θμιας κάθε νομού. Καθήκον των υπευθύνων είναι να παρέχουν κάθε δυνατή βοήθεια για την εφαρμογή προγραμμάτων Π.Ε.

    Τα προγράμματα στηρίζονται οικονομικά από το Υπουργείο Παιδείας. Επίσης μπορούν να βοηθηθούν χρηματικά από την Τοπική Αυτοδιοίκηση, το Σύλλογο γονέων και κηδεμόνων, από τα έσοδα μαθητικών κοινοτήτων, από διάφορους φορείς και χορηγούς.

    Οι Περιβαλλοντικές Ομάδες μπορούν να συνεργασθούν και να αντλήσουν πληροφορίες για την υλοποίηση των Π.Π.Ε του σχολείου με ειδικούς από Επιστημονικά Ιδρύματα, με την Τοπική Αυτοδιοίκηση, με τα Κ.Π.Ε, τις Νομαρχίες, Συλλόγους Γονέων και Κηδεμόνων, με Κυβερνητικούς φορείς αρμόδιους για θέματα περιβάλλοντος, εφόσον οι τελευταίοι έχουν έγκριση για σχετικές συνεργασίες από τη Δ/νσή μας.

    Προγράμματα Π.Ε θεωρούνται εκείνα που το περιεχόμενό τους σχετίζεται με τα αναφερόμενα στην παράγραφο 2(α,β) της Υπ. Απόφασης Γ2/4867/28/8/92.


  1. “ Εισαγωγή στην Π.Ε.” , Ζ. Αγγελίδης. Εκδ. Art of Text.
  2. “ Η μέθοδος Project, Karl Frey. Εκδ. Κυριακίδη.
  3. “ ΄Ανθρωπος και Περιβάλλον ”. Εκδ. Ανοικτό Πανεπιστήμιο.
  4. “ Οικολογία και Περιβάλλον” . Κ. Ουζούνης ΠΤΔΕ (Παν/κές σημειώσεις).
  5. “ Περιβαλλοντική Εκπ/ση – Θεωρία και Πράξη ”. Δημήτρης Καλαϊτζίδης – Κων/νος Ουζούνης. Εκδόσεις Σπανίδης, Ξάνθη 1999.
  6. “Σχεδιασμός και εφαρμογή Προγραμμάτων Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευσης στα σχολεία Α/θμιας.
  7. “Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση”. Εκδόσεις GUTENBERG, Αθήνα 1993. Αλέξανδρος Γεωργόπουλος – Ελισάβετ Τσαλίκη .

* Η Παρασκευή Γεωργαντά είναι Υπεύθυνη Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευσης Δευτεροβάθμιας Εκπαίδευσης Ν.Ξάνθης.

Μαρία Κύρτση: Παρατηρώντας τους βιότοπους της Ροδόπης

Μαρία Κύρτση

    Μετά από αίτησή μας το 1997 στο Ι.Κ.Υ. εγκρίθηκε η συμμετοχή μας σ’ ένα διακρατικό ευρωπαϊκό πρόγραμμα, το Socrates-Comenius, στη Δράση 1 που αφορά στη συνεργασία σχολείων από 3 κράτη-μέλη της Ευρώπης πάνω σ’ ένα κοινό θέμα.

    Μέσω του προγράμματος αυτού ήρθαμε σε επαφή με ένα σχολείο της Ισπανίας, το I.E.S. no 1 “Libertas” της Τorrevieja το οποίο ήταν ο συντονιστής της εργασίας και δύο ιταλικά σχολεία, το Scuola Media Statale Porto Romano του Fiumicino και το I.T.I.S. de Pretto του Schio. Αποφασίσαμε να μελετήσει τους φυσικούς θησαυρούς της περιοχής του ο καθένας, θέμα που μας ευνοούσε ιδιαίτερα αν λάβουμε υπ’ όψη τον πλούτο της βιοποικιλότητας του νομού Ροδόπης με το σύμπλεγμα λιμνών – λιμνοθαλασσών.

    Ως θέμα του κοινού προγράμματος ορίστηκε “Influencia de la accion humana sobre los ecosistemas de climas aridos” και η όλη προσπάθεια διήρκεσε 2 χρόνια. Ήταν ένα ερέθισμα για μας και τους μαθητές μας να γνωρίσουμε καλύτερα την περιοχή μας, να μελετήσουμε τα προβλήματά της και να ευαισθητοποιηθούμε για τη διάσωση των υγροτόπων μας.

    Το θέμα αιχμαλώτισε το ενδιαφέρον μας γιατί μαγευτήκαμε από την άγνωστη ως τότε για μας ομορφιά που έκρυβαν οι γωνιές αυτές του νομού μας. Τα παιδιά αλλά κι εμείς μυηθήκαμε στα μυστικά της παρατήρησης των πουλιών, ξεναγηθήκαμε από τον έμπειρο ξεναγό φυσικού περιβάλλοντος του κέντρου πληροφόρησης της Βιστωνίδας κο Τερζή και κατανοήσαμε τη λειτουργία των υγροτόπων, τη σημασία τους και την τόσο εύθραυστη ισορροπία των μαγικών αυτών τόπων.

    Γοητευθήκαμε από τους φτερωτούς επισκέπτες του νομού μας και αρχίσαμε να αναγνωρίζουμε περισσότερα είδη πουλιών και φυτών. Το πρόγραμμα μας έβαλε στο πανεπιστήμιο της φύσης. Αυτό που ξεκίνησε σαν εργασία εξελίχθηκε σε μεράκι.

    Όσα γνωρίσαμε εμείς θέλαμε να τα μοιραστούμε και με τους άλλους ανθρώπους που αγνοούν ακόμη τον πλούτο της περιοχής μας. Δουλέψαμε με ενθουσιασμό και δημιουργικότητα και το προϊόν της δουλειάς μας είναι ένα τετράδιο για την παρατήρηση της φύσης, ένα φυλλάδιο για τις ανθρώπινες παρεμβάσεις στους υγροτόπους, μια βιντεοκασέτα με τις ομορφιές των περιοχών αυτών.

    Αν και δεν εγκρίθηκε η συμμετοχή μας η συμμετοχή μας στο πρόγραμμα για την γ’ φάση παρόλα αυτά δεν μας κάνει καρδιά να σταματήσουμε το ταξίδι αυτό της γνώσης. Φιλοδοξούμε να δώσουμε μια πιο ολοκληρωμένη εικόνα της περιοχής μέσα από ένα CD-ROM που η χρηματοδότησή του προς το παρών αποτελεί σημαντικό πρόβλημα.

    Μια άλλη ενδιαφέρουσα πτυχή αυτού του προγράμματος ήταν η επαφή μας με καθηγητές και μαθητές των συνεργαζομένων σχολείων της Ευρώπης με τους οποίους ανταλλάξαμε γράμματα και επισκέψεις και συσφίξαμε τις σχέσεις μας.

    Έτσι μέσα από αυτή τη δουλειά πλουτίσαμε διπλά. Αγαπήσαμε τη φύση και αποκτήσαμε φίλους που έχουν τα ίδια ενδιαφέροντα με εμάς αν και μιλούν διαφορετικές γλώσσες. Επικοινωνήσαμε με ανθρώπους από άλλες χώρες, γνωρίσαμε την κουλτούρα τους και ανακαλύψαμε ότι τα κοινά σημεία που μας ενώνουν είναι πολλά και οι διαφορές ελάχιστες.

    Συνειδητοποιήσαμε ότι πια είμαστε πολίτες της Ευρώπης στην οποία έχουμε να διδάξουμε και να διδαχθούμε πολλά. Ευελπιστούμε να δοθεί η ευκαιρία και σ’ άλλους μαθητές του σχολείου μας να συμμετάσχουν σε παρόμοια προγράμματα ώστε να προωθηθεί η ευρωπαϊκή διάσταση της παιδείας μας.

    Η δυνατότητα για δημιουργική εργασία παράλληλα με το σχολείο αναπτύσσει ενδιαφέροντα και δεξιότητες των παιδιών που δεν μπορεί να αξιοποιήσει το “σφιχτό” αναλυτικό πρόγραμμα και συντελεί στην βελτίωση των σχέσεων ανάμεσα στους συντελεστές αυτής της μαθησιακής διαδικασίας.

Η Μαρία Κύρτση είναι καθηγήτρια Γαλλικής στο 4ο Γυμνάσιο Κομοτηνής. Είναι συντονίστρια του προγράμματος Π.Ε. “Οι βιότοποι του Νομού μας”

Αθανάσιος Τζαμπαζλής: Έτσι απλά όπως η Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση

Αθανάσιος Τζαμπαζλής

    Δεν θα μιλήσω θεωρητικά για την Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση, τους στόχους και τις μεθοδολογίες της (υπάρχουν άλλωστε στα εγχειρίδια που τ΄ αναλύουν καλύτερα και διεξοδικότερα) αλλά μόνο για τη πρακτική ενασχόλησή μου μ΄ αυτήν και τις εμπειρίες που απόκτησα δουλεύοντας δύο χρόνια τώρα με μαθητές Γυμνασίου σε διάφορα περιβαλλοντικά προγράμματα.

    Ας ξεκινήσω με το έμψυχο υλικό: γνώρισα την ανθρώπινη πλευρά των μαθητών μου. Ώρες κι ώρες διδασκαλίας με το να δω αν κατανόησαν το α ή το β γραμματικό φαινόμενο, ερωτήσεις κι απαντήσεις για να δω αν κατάλαβαν το γ ή δ κείμενο, διάφορα tests, για να δω αν έχουν εμπεδώσει τις δομές της γλώσσας που διδάσκω. Κι όμως οι ίδιοι αυτοί μαθητές κατάλαβαν αμέσως τι κρύβεται πίσω απ΄ τα σύννεφα, κάτω από μια πέτρα, πίσω απ΄ τα ξεχαρβαλωμένα παράθυρα ενός μισογκρεμισμένου σπιτιού. Αποκρυπτογραφούσαν την ίδια τη ζωή, επειδή κάποιος τους έδωσε την ευκαιρία να εκφράσουν την ανθρώπινη πλευρά τους – την πραγματικότητα.

    Ώρες κι ώρες προετοιμασίας μου, για να τους εξηγήσω τι είναι τα οικοσυστήματα, οι υγρότοποι, η χλωρίδα, η πανίδα, ποια πουλιά είναι μεταναστευτικά, που διαχειμάζουν, κι αυτοί μ΄ ένα βλέμμα μόνο μπορούσαν να διακρίνουν αν το πουλί που πετάει είναι λαγγόνα ή τσικνιάς, αν το δέντρο που βλέπουμε είναι λεύκα ή ακακία – η οξυδερκής αντίληψη των παιδιών.

    Είδα ότι τα παιδιά αν επιλέξουν το κατάλληλο θέμα για περιβαλλοντική εργασία κι αν αυτό σχετίζεται άμεσα μαζί τους, προβάλλουν τις ευαισθησίες τους, τους προβληματισμούς τους, την διαισθητική τους αντίληψη, τον αυθορμητισμό τους, την αγάπη τους για προστασία και την παροχή βοήθειας σε οτιδήποτε κινδυνεύει. Εγκαταλείπουν τον στείρο και σκληρό ανταγωνισμό που επικρατεί μεταξύ τους, αφήνουν πίσω την ψυχρότητα της αίθουσας, βλέπουν τον καθηγητή τους από άλλη οπτική γωνία, απομακρύνονται από τ’ άχαρα απρόσωπα σχολεία κι αφήνονται στη ζεστή αγκαλιά της φύσης, ρουφώντας τα ευεργετήματα της βιωματικής προσέγγισης, καταλαβαίνουν ότι κι αυτοί είναι μέρος της φύσης και αναλογίζονται από την πρακτική ενασχόλησή τους με το περιβάλλον, τι στάση να υιοθετήσουν απέναντι στον κόσμο / φύση που τους περιβάλλει.

    Ας τελειώσω με το άψυχο υλικό, η προσέγγιση δηλαδή του χώρου προς μελέτη. Επιτέλους τα παιδιά ν΄ ακούν τη ροή του ποταμού, να βλέπουν τα πραγματικά χρώματα του ηλιοβασιλέματος, να μυρίζουν τις κατακόκκινες τριανταφυλλιές, να χαϊδεύουν οποιοδήποτε ζωάκι τους τριφτεί στα πόδια, να ανοίγουν όλες τις κλειστές πόρτες και να θέλουν να μάθουν όλα τα μυστικά του κόσμου. Εκεί στο έξω χώρο ανακαλύπτει κανείς την υπερδιορατικότητά τους, γιατί ο μέσα χώρος – σχολείο τραυματίζει τις ευαισθησίες τους, αλλοιώνει την προσωπικότητά τους, κι οτιδήποτε καλό, βαπτιζόμενο στο όνομα ενός μαθήματος, τους αποπροσανατολίζει και τους απενεργοποιεί.

    Με όση ευκολία ο χώρος μελέτης ζωντανεύει από την υπερκινητικότητα των παιδιών, με τόση προσοχή σου απαντούν σε κάθε ερώτηση που θα τους κάνεις. Με όση προσοχή μυρίζουν τα λουλούδια, με τόση υπομονή σ΄ ακούν οτιδήποτε τους πεις. Με όση ανυπομονησία περιμένουν να δουν κάτι καινούριο στο περιβάλλον, με τόση παρατηρητικότητα σε βλέπουν δίπλα σε μια πηγή, κάτω από ένα παράθυρο, δίπλα σε αρπακτικά πουλιά, πάνω στην κορυφή ενός βουνού. Ο έξω χώρος τους ενεργοποιεί, ανακλώντας πάνω τους τη θετική ενέργειά του, επειδή μέσα στο σχολείο τα παιδιά αναπτύσσουν αρνητικότητα και άμυνες, γιατί αισθάνονται να πολιορκούνται από το εκπαιδευτικό σύστημα και τα εκτελεστικά όργανά του, τους καθηγητές του. Όπως λεει και η Virginia Woolf στο έργο της “Orlando” “…life has nothing to do with sitting still in a chair and thinking…” σελ. 188.

    Κι όταν τελικά φτάνει η ώρα της παρουσίασης της εργασίας τους, για την οποία κοπιαστικά προσπαθούσαν ένα χρόνο ή ένα εξάμηνο (ανάλογα με την εργασία), τότε τους βλέπεις τελείως μεταμορφωμένους. Έχουν αποκρυσταλλωμένες απόψεις για το περιβάλλον, μιλούν με σιγουριά για το οικολογικό μέλλον της περιοχής τους, αποκτούν αυτοπεποίθηση, κέφι κι αισιοδοξία, γιατί αισθάνονται κι αυτοί μέρος του συνολικού φυσικού γίγνεσθαι, γιατί τους δόθηκε η δυνατότητα, μέσω της περιβαλλοντικής εκπαιδευτικής εργασίας να προσφέρουν κι αυτοί κάτι από τον πολύ καλά κρυμμένο εαυτό τους στον μικρόκοσμο που τους περιβάλλει, γιατί τους δόθηκε η δυνατότητα ν΄ ακουστεί η πραγματική φωνή τους, γιατί τους δόθηκε η ευκαιρία να δουλέψουν χωρίς κανόνες και πρέπει. Έτσι απλά, όπως παρατηρείς τα δέντρα, έτσι απλά όταν ακούς το ποτάμι να κυλάει. Έτσι απλά όπως είναι και η Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση.

Υ.Γ. Φυσικά τα πράγματα με την περιβαλλοντική εκπαίδευση δεν είναι τόσο απλά, ούτε όλα τα σχολεία είναι απρόσωπα κι ούτε όλοι οι μαθητές που ασχολούνται με την περιβαλλοντική εκπαίδευση αποδίδουν τα μέγιστα.

* Ο Αθανάσιος Τζαμπαζλής είναι καθηγητής Αγγλικών στο Γυμνάσιο Τοξοτών. Αυτή τη στιγμή εκπονεί πρόγραμμα με θέμα “Οι άγνωστοι οικισμοί του Δήμου Τοπείρου”. O ίδιος εκπόνησε πρόγραμμα με μαθητές της Γ Γυμνασίου το σχολικό έτος 1998-1999 με θέμα: “Η Πορεία των Τοξοτών από τις Αρχές του Αιώνα μας Μέχρι Σήμερα”.

Elena Tatsiou: Relaxing Activity – Game with movement, exploration and mimicry

Πρωτοβουλία για τη σωτηρία των πέτρινων γεφυριών της Θράκης

Tον Απρίλιο του 2000 συστάθηκε η Ομάδα Μελέτης Παραδοσιακών Γεφυριών σαν μία πρωτοβουλία πολιτών με στόχο τη μελέτη, προστασία και ανάδειξη των παραδοσιακών γεφυριών της Θράκης. Οι δράσεις της Ομάδας φιλοξενούνται από το Πολιτιστικό Αναπτυξιακό Κέντρο Θράκης (ΠΑΚΕΘΡΑ) στην Ξάνθη. Οι λόγοι που οδήγησαν στην πρωτοβουλία αυτή ήταν:

  • Ανάγκη μελέτης των παλιών γεφυριών της Θράκης και ένταξής τους στο γενικότερο πλαίσιο
  • Συνειδητοποίηση των προβλημάτων που αντιμετωπίζουν τα παραδοσιακά πέτρινα γεφύρια εξαιτίας φυσικών καταστροφών αλλά και παράνομων ανασκαφών από αρχαιοκάπηλους.

Επιθυμία προβολής των αρχιτεκτονικών και πολιτισμικών χαρακτηριστικών των παλιών γεφυριών της Θράκης.

Πιο αναλυτικά, οι στόχοι της Ομάδας είναι:

  1. Να καταγράψει και να μελετήσει τα παραδοσιακά γεφύρια της Θράκης
  2. Να μελετήσει το παλιό οδικό δίκτυο τμήμα του οποίου αποτελούσαν τα πέτρινα γεφύρια
  3. Να έλθει σε επαφή με επίσημους φορείς, Δήμους και Κοινότητες περιοχών με παραδοσιακά γεφύρια.
  4. Να προβάλλει τα πέτρινα γεφύρια της Θράκης με κάθε μέσο (αφίσες, φυλλάδια, εκδόσεις, συνεντέυξεις τύπου, ντοκυμαντέρ,
  5. Να συντονίσει τις προσπάθειες προς την κατεύθυνση της προστασίας και σωτηρίας των παραδοσιακών γεφυριών που κινδυνεύουν να καταρρεύσουν
  6. Να βοηθήσει ώστε να δημιουργηθεί στη Θράκη Σχολή Κατάρτισης Παραδοσιακών Μαστόρων, η οποία θα διαδώσει τις τεχνικές κατασκευής και συντήρησης πέτρινων γεφυριών σε νέους ανθρώπους οι οποίοι με τη σειρά τους θα αξιοποιηθούν σε εργασίες προστασίας των παραδοσιακών γεφυριών της Θράκης

Τα τελευταία χρόνια όλο και περισσότερα γεφύρια ανακηρύσσονται διατηρητέα μνημεία από τις αρμόδιες εφορείες αρχαίων, βυζαντινών και νεωτέρων μνημείων. Όμως η καταγραφή και μελέτη των πέτρινων γεφυριών βρίσκεται ακόμα στην αρχή και μεμονωμένες είναι οι περιπτώσεις στις οποίες έχουν ληφθεί ουσιαστικά μέτρα διάσωσης και συντήρησης.

Η λήψη μέτρων προστασίας στις περιπτώσεις ζημιών της θεμελίωσης οφείλει να είναι άμεση, διότι περαιτέρω διάβρωση θα σημάνει την κατάρρευση του γεφυριού. Άμεσα μέτρα αποτροπής της κατάρρευσης είναι η υποστήλωση του τόξου και η επισκευή-ενίσχυση της θεμελίωσης. Όλα τα απαιτούμενα μέτρα προστασίας-συντήρησης προϋποθέτουν λεπτομερείς μελέτες- αντιπλημμυρικές, περιβαλλοντικές, στατικές και αρχιτεκτονικές.

Για τη διάσωση των πέτρινων γεφυριών που κινδυνεύουν απαιτούνται συντονισμένες προσπάθειες των αρμόδιων φορέων που είναι οι κατά τόπους εφορείες αρχαιοτήτων και μνημείων του Υπουργείου Πολιτισμού. Με την καθοδήγησή τους στο έργο της διάσωσης των πέτρινων γεφυριών μπορούν να συμβάλλουν Δήμοι, Κοινότητες, Νομαρχίες, Περιφέρειες, Τεχνικό Επιμελητήριο Ελλάδας και άλλοι φορείς.

Για την εκπλήρωση των στόχων της ανάδειξης και προστασίας των παραδοσιακών γεφυριών της Θράκης η Ομάδα Μελέτης Παραδοσιακών Γεφυριών πρόκειται να συνεργαστεί με πολλούς τοπικούς και κεντρικούς φορείς.

Η πρώτη πρωτοβουλία της Ομάδας Μελέτης Παραδοσιακών Γεφυριών αφορά τη σωτηρία της Μεσαιωνικής Γέφυρας του Ιάσμου που έχει υποστεί σημαντικές φθορές από τις βάρβαρες λαθροανασκαφές ασυνείδητων χρυσοθήρων. Η 12η Εφορεία Βυζαντινών Μνημείων έχει δεσμευθεί ότι θα προχωρήσει στα αναγκαία μέτρα συντήρησης.

Ένα άλλο δείγμα της ίδιας προσπάθειας είναι η συντήρηση ενός παραδοσιακού πέτρινου γεφυριού που βρίσκεται στο 6ο χλμ του δρόμου Ξάνθης-Σταυρούπολης. Με την οικονομική ενίσχυση της Εταιρείας Ετοίμου Σκυροδέματος ΣΚΑΡΛΑΤΟΣ Α.Ε. πρόκειται να γίνει επισκευή του γεφυριού αυτού με την αξιοποίηση παραδοσιακών μαστόρων. Οι εργασίες έχουν τεθεί υπό την αιγίδα του Δήμου Σταυρούπολης. Για την έναρξη των εργασιών αναμένεται η σχετική έγκριση της 4ης Εφορείας Νεωτέρων Μνημείων.

Στην Ομάδα Μελέτης των Παραδοσιακών Γεφυριών συμμετέχουν και συνάδελφοι εκπαιδευτικοί μέλη της ΠΑΝΕΚΑΔΕ.