Address: 1, Grigori Lambraki Street

Country: Greece

 School website

Project: New steps on an old path: Integrating Intangible Cultural Heritage and Competences for Democratic Culture in the daily teaching practice


Working language during the project:

  • Greek
  • English

Themes of the Council of Europe project “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:

  • Addressing controversial issues
  • Tackling discrimination

Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:

  • Knowledge and critical understanding of the world: politics, law, human rights, culture, cultures, religions, history, media, economies, environment, sustainability
    By exploring in class and as part of the lesson the historical background and origins of the Rebetiko musical form (from war refugees) and its social background (the social position of women in the beginning of the 20th century in Greece)
  • Analytical and critical thinking skills
    Examining the historical and social information from the Rebetiko era through projects on the lives of composers and singers and through creative writing activities related to the lyrics of the songs (gender stereotypes) to identify similarities and differences between the past and the present and to assist in making evaluative judgements
  • Autonomous learning skills
    By providing students with various types of assessment forms at the end of each stage of the project to encourage self -reflection on what was learnt

Target group age range:

  • 15 - 19

Level of education:

  • Upper secondary education

Short description of the project:

This experimental pilot project was developed in the framework of the joint UNESCO-European Union project “Engaging Youth for an Inclusive and Sustainable Europe” and focuses on the idea of integrating Intangible Cultural Heritage as a teaching tool to be used in the daily teaching practice of various upper secondary subjects , rather than as a topic for extra-curricular projects and activities, in order to cultivate respect, appreciation for diversity and democratic culture and to create a space for everyone to participate. This interdisciplinary educational scenario comprises four lesson plans for teaching four different subjects to students of A and B classes using the musical and cultural form Rebetiko from three different perspectives: to serve the aims and objectives of the national curriculum for those subjects, to explore the intangible cultural element itself, thus contributing to its safeguarding and to provide the background for integrating democratic competences of the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture in the daily teaching practice of curricular subjects.

Rebetiko is a form of musical and cultural expression directly linked to song and dance, inscribed on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural heritage of Humanity in 2017. After the exchange of populations (in 1922, the Greek-Orthodox living in Asia Minor were obliged to leave Turkey and Muslims to leave Greece), it became one of the primary musical expressions of the refugee groups that settled in most Greek urban centres, acting as a powerful reference point for collective memory and identity and expressing the plight of the refugees, who were uprooted by war or extreme economic distress. It is mainly a musical genre which, however, was also related socially to a specific “sub-culture” from the 1920’s to the 1950’s and was associated with a “bohemian” lifestyle and “emancipated” women. This was socially condemned and in the 1930s Rebetiko was censored rigorously as an expression of the “dangerous classes”.

The subject of English as a Foreign Language was used to familiarise students with the historical origins and social background of Rebetiko, based on the English version of the formal application text by the Greek Ministry of Culture. Through KWL charts, reading activities and guided discussion during the lesson and by researching the life of composers and singers at home, students learnt about war refugees, immigrants, social inclusion and gender stereotypes. They also attended a special screening of three ethnographic documentaries in the framework of the Ethnofest, followed by an interview-discussion with an expert of the Ministry of Culture regarding knowing and understanding of one’s own cultural affiliations and sensitivity towards cultural diversity.

Using creative writing techniques to initiate guided group and class discussion, the subject of Greek Literature focused mainly on the social position of women in the (conservative) Greek society of the time and the completely different type of (emancipated) women portrayed in the lyrics of 3 popular Rebetiko love songs, thus exploring gender stereotypes and allowing for understanding of the relevance of the past to issues of the present.

The evaluation methods used included KWL charts and 3,2,1 report sheets to allow for self-reflection in the framework of autonomous learning.

In order to foster the insight gained, B class students learned the steps of the three main Rebetiko dances in their Physical Education class, practicing the cultural element itself, connecting the historical and social origin of the songs to their actual artistic expression while enhancing their self-efficacy. In their ICT class, as part of the A class syllabus, students cooperated seamlessly and developed the Rebetiko application for mobile phones to document and disseminate the pilot project.


To explore the intangible cultural element itself and to contribute to its safe guarding, as it is local to the area where the school is situated, and to integrate it in the daily teaching practice of curricular subjects to serve their aims and objectives while increasing their relevance.

To provide the background (war refugees, gender stereotypes) for integrating democratic competences of the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture in the daily teaching practice of curricular subjects, such as valuing cultural diversity, respect, civic mindedness, understanding how our perspective of the world is contingent upon our cultural affiliations and experiences, autonomous learning skills, analytical and critical learning skills.

Expected results/outcomes

  • To further foster the cooperative school culture
  • To enhance Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking among both teachers and students
  • To develop flexibility and adaptability as well as self-efficacy among both teachers and students


Both the teachers and the students enjoyed these “different” lessons which made use of a different teaching “tool” and approach, as opposed to the norm (knowledge and teacher cantered teaching) due to time constraints at upper secondary level schools. This teaching approach initiative has remained in the school culture and is currently being used not only in designing lesson plans for classroom use but also, due to its modular nature, in designing extracurricular activities of various kinds initiated in and/or closely linked to the classroom practice (Erasmus+ projects, environmental and cultural programmes). In this way, both the curricular aims and the CDC competences are equally taken into account at the planning level, contributing to a more holistic approach towards teaching and learning.

Challenges you faced

Not all of our students come from the area around the school, but from various suburbs of Peiraeus and even municipalities around Athens. Their cultural, social and financial backgrounds vary a lot and some students were at first apprehensive of dealing with Rebetiko, especially in their English class, since, as they said, they could see no relevance and found the musical genre old fashioned. During the project, their evaluation sheets made it clear that the vast majority had enjoyed and appreciated the project.

Time-frame of the project:

implementation time frame of the project was one and a half months for all four subjects. Nevertheless, due to the project’s modular nature, time frames may vary depending on the subject or the extracurricular activity or programme for/in which it is used.

Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:

  • Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture