Reading ancient Greek myths in Greece
The children in second grade of the 2nd Elementary School in Renti, Greece are reading about the hero Odysseus from the ancient Greek myth. They are not reading about him in a children’s story book about Greek mythology. They are reading the translated original ancient text, which is not a work of literature one would normally expect to see 7 to 8 years old children read.
However, these children are participating in the REFUGE-ED project, and they are doing a dialogical literary gathering. A dialogical literary gathering is a teaching method, which has been tested in a variety of different settings and has proven to provide good academic results.
In the REFUGE-ED project the successful educational actions, such as the dialogical literary gatherings are combined with mental health and psychosocial support approaches. The aim of the project is to work closely with each of the 46 pilot site to uncover their needs and find out which of the successful educational actions in combination with the MHPSS approaches would best serve to improve the academic success, wellbeing and social connectedness of the children.
In Greece, KMOP is working with seven primary schools, one high school and two non-formal education centres situated in both urban and rural areas. KMOP has worked closely with the schools, children, families and communities as well as civil society organisations to uncover their needs, and create solutions together based on actions and approaches that are known work. While needs vary from site to site, common challenges include language barriers, high absenteeism and dropout, social exclusion, lack of teaching staff and specialized staff (social workers and psychologists) as well as releant scientific materials and resources. These challenges are not exclusive to the Greek context but something that is being reported from the five other countries in the project.
While it is outside the scope of a project like REFUGE-ED to solve all these challenges, the successful educational actions and MHPSS approaches can address some of them. The project cannot hire psychologists for the school, but we can work with teachers, parents and students on learning and understanding ways of teaching and being together that supports inclusion, sense of safety, wellbeing and learning.
In the 2nd Elementary School in Renti, they have chosen to work primarily with dialogic literary gatherings. The school newspaper reported that “Upon field research (interviews with teachers, parents and students of our school) and analysis, “Dialogic Literary Gatherings” were selected as a best practice of inclusion for our school. Collective creation of meaning and knowledge based on dialogue among the student population is this practice’s primary purpose, constituting a vital factor of the selection process.”