Address: Makrygialos of Pieria
Project: Journalistic Student Conference
Working language during the project:
Themes of the Council of Europe campaign “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:
- Dealing with propaganda, misinformation and fake news
Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:
All students participate in our action, regardless of their particularities (background, cultural environment, disability) and develop valuing human dignity and human rights, cultural diversity, democracy, justice, equality and the rule of law.
- Attitudes and Skills:
As they participate in collaborative actions they develop attitudes like openness to cultural otherness and to other beliefs, respect, responsibility, autonomous learning skills, analytical and critical thinking skills, co-operation skills and conflict-resolution skills.
- Knowledge and critical understanding:
As student-journalists develop skills, like knowledge and critical understanding of language and communication, Knowledge and critical understanding of the world: politics, law, human rights, culture, cultures, religions, history, media, economies, environment, sustainability.
Target group age range:
Level of education:
- Lower secondary education
Short description of the project:
Makrygialos High School is a small provincial school in Macedonia of Greece with a large percentage of foreign students, in which we develop educational actions with pan-Hellenic distinctions, such as editing of the school newspaper, theatrical performances and other cultural and environmental activities.
The challenge for the students is to publish the school newspaper, to educate them in dealing with the the media and to embrace the principles of democracy and free expression. Thus, in the framework of the educational programme "Publication of the School Newspaper", they participate in the writing and publication of their school newspaper with the supervision of the School Director Mrs. Evangelia Kanali, aiming at informing and raising awareness public opinion on social, cultural, environmental, school life, health and nutrition education.
The highlight of this programme is the organisation of a “Journalistic Student Conference” aimed at students and teachers of the High Schools and the Lyceums in Pieria who issue or plan to publish school newspapers. It is an innovative educational programme that was implemented in Greece for the first time by a school and aims at educating students and teachers with media issues such as writing articles, selecting themes, gathering records, practical application, but mainly embraces the principles of intimate, honest, unselfish and democratic journalism. The Conference was held on 27 March 2018 and was attended by 307 students and 72 teachers from 17 High Schools and Lyceums in Pieria. This innovative action was selected from among 748 schools across Europe to be presented in the Oslo conference in which the new Council of Europe education campaign “Free to Speak, Safe to Learn - Democratic Schools for All” was launched in November 2018.
The Makrygialos High School journalistic group will continue this programme in the school year 2018-2019 and will organise the “2nd Journalistic Student Conference” aimed at training students and teachers in electronic journalism and in entrepreneurship, giving students experience of business processes (marketing, advertising, revenue management for public purposes, business plan). During the 2nd Conference, they will organize a Pieria School Newspaper Exhibition, so that the local society of school newspapers can see the students’ reflections and interesting creations. The Conference will be extended to the region of Central Macedonia and later to the whole of Greece, with the ultimate goal of becoming an institution for the country’s educational community. In addition, in April 2019 they will present their innovative action to students and teachers from the Istituto D’Istruzione Superiore – “Sandro Pertini” in Lucca in Italy, with whom they are twinned, hoping that it will result in a collaboration between the two schools and the developing of joint actions.
Our innovative educational action
It is vital for a democratic school to provide students with a solid education on media and information literacy as part of the curriculum. The writing and production of school newspapers serves the basic purposes of Education, as it is an interdisciplinary activity consistent with the curriculum that combines multimodality, cooperation, critical ability, cognitive and linguistic development of students. However, journalist groups feel strongly about the need for expert information on issues related to writing and publishing school newspapers, such as:
- What are the stages of creating a newspaper?
- How to write an article, an essay, an interview, a documentary?
- What constraints are imposed by journalistic ethics, such as objectivity, impartiality, but also misinformation, misleading public opinion?
- How to avoid getting lost in the stream of information or being victim of propaganda and fake news?
- How is the management of economic issues related to the production of the newspaper?
The Director of Makrygialos High School Mrs. Evangelia Kanali, along with her student journalists, took the initiative of planning and organising the “Journalistic Student Conference” for students and teachers of High Schools and Lyceums in Pieria which issue or plan to issue school newspapers, as the schools do not have their own professional journalists. For this purpose they invited high-level media industry specialists to teach students and teachers about issues related to editing school newspapers and to basic concepts of journalistic ethics.
The Conference’s second objective was the school newspaper award. Every year, schools produce a significant number of student newspapers, the appeal of which is limited to the narrow boundaries of the local community or the school community. For this reason, the Makrygialos High School journalistic team wanted to promote and award school newspapers of High Schools and Lyceums in Pieria to motivate them into creating something new. The team presented all the school newspapers in Pieria and the Conference Review Committee awarded the "Best High School Newspaper" and the "Best Lyceum Newspaper”. The evaluation criteria used were: the variety of subjects, social, cultural and environmental issues, the correct use of language, the quality of journalistic speech.
The Conference’s third objective was a contribution to Local Educational History. The Makrygialos High School journalistic team gathered together all newspapers from Pieria’s High Schools and Lyceums so as to make an Archive of School Newspapers, to ensure they are not lost in time and with the hope that this initiative will be a small achievement in the History of the Pieria Student Press. Thereafter, the aim is to compile an archive of all the school newspapers published during the year for each subsequent Journalistic Student Conference with a view to submitting the archive at a future date to the General State Archives. Their next goal is to organise an Exhibition of the Pieria School Papers, in the belief that the promotion of school newspapers is an important factor for presenting children's views, highlighting their talents and communicating the school with their social environment.
The fourth objective of the Conference was to provide feedback to student journalists and their respective teachers. The Makrygialos High School journalist team invited archaeologists to show the students and teachers rare archaeological finds kept at the Makrygialos Museum, thus giving students the opportunity to report on, interview or write an article in their newspapers and take an active role as a journalist. At the same time, the Makrygialos High School journalistic team aimed to give visibility to the newly established Archaeological Museum of Makrygialos and to encourage Pieria schools to visit it, a goal that was immediately achieved.
Innovative features of this educational action
The Journalistic Student Conference is an innovative event created by a democratic school. It- sets up a network of communication for the school journalist groups in Pieria and for exchanging views on important social, political and cultural issues, such as peace, democracy, equality, diversity, environment, education. It gave them the opportunity to inspire each other, to interact and take part in new creations in a spirit of co-operation and teamwork.
The Makrygialos High School journalistic group developed constructive co-operation with the Directorate of Education of Pieria, the local authorities, the local community and the Parents' Association, and asked them for funding for the awards and the Conference organization. They all responded to this request, recognizing the multiple benefits for the educational community and the city of Pieria from a democratic school open to society.
In evaluating the innovative character of this educational programme, it is clear that the above initiatives were developed by students with a different national, cultural background who:
- through their newspaper seek to gain a "step" and "voice" to express themselves, to communicate with the world around them
- through their articles, documentaries and interviews, claim the truth and raise public awareness of important issues
- listen to the needs of the educational community and strive to contribute to their innovative initiatives
- see another side of education; one where they are not empty pots filled with sterile, irrelevant knowledge, but responsible, participatory citizens who can become actors of school and social life.
The Journalistic Student Conference is an action of a democratic school that gives the opportunity to all pupils, regardless of their particularities (origin, cultural environment, disability):
- learn how to learn, how to conquer exploration and cooperative knowledge;
- develop critical ability and scientific thought to explore the causes or the consequences of problems;
- seek and disseminate information and ideas from around the world through their school papers;
- transform original ideas into innovative applications and activate their talent and skills for expression and creation;
- practice the recording of different textual items, such as articles, essays, interviews, documentaries and the production of oral and written speech;
- develop social and communication skills such as responsibility, planning, strategy and planning skills, needs analysis, organizational, teamwork and communication, decision-making and problem-solving strategies to become active in the future and socially sensitive citizens.
The Conference gives teachers the opportunity to understand that they should:
- teach their students how to collaborate by taking roles and to feel creative by composing one or more sheets of their newspaper
- be proud of the collective work, overcoming individualism and personal insecurities
- ensure a pleasant and attractive school environment for all pupils without discrimination or exclusion
- organise school life according to the democratic principles of freedom, dialogue, equality, justice, respect for diversity
In addition, students and teachers following the suggestions of the high-level media industry specialist journalists get to:
- realize the power of the press and the importance of the news
- become familiar with press-related concepts such as misinformation, false news, brainwashing, propaganda, anaesthetising of receivers;
- learn to apply and exploit a variety of different sources of data acquisition, but also critically manage the knowledge they derive from the internet
- understand the concept of a cross-thematic approach to information
- sharpen their critical thinking and perceptions to identify useful information from unnecessary information, insignificant events from worthwhile news
- learn to use methods and practices of science, technology and the arts to investigate, judge, comment, argue, and express themselves artistically
- practice a variety of writing styles, such as article, essay, interview, documentaries, op-ed.
The media journalists also help students and teachers to understand that propaganda, misinformation and fake news can polarise public opinion and undermine democracies and that there is a duty to apply the following fundamental principles of journalistic ethics:
- utilise a variety of different sources for data mining and learn to distinguish useful information from unnecessary information
- collect, cross-check and document information
- keep professional secrecy about information sources
- transmit news regardless of their personal political, social and religious beliefs.
- avoid legal difficulties by working responsibly and according to professional ethics.
- publicize the truth objectively and impartially and not by misleading public opinion with false news and propaganda.
Challenges you faced
Organising the Journalistic Student Conference was a bold and difficult task. The challenges were important, but the benefits were great. Press articles, TV quotes and letters of congratulation - now in the school archive - all demonstrated that a small provincial school managed for the first time in our country to organise a Conference with high-reaching goals and a strong impact on the local and wider society.
To sum up, the Journalistic Student Conference is an innovative pedagogical action of a school operating according to democratic principles such as freedom and responsibility, participation, equality and justice. A school where teachers offer not only knowledge but vision and passion for their job and open new horizons according to the interests and sensitivities of students who in turn learn to go beyond the narrow boundaries of the school and become creative, responsible and active citizens in keeping with democratic culture.
Time-frame of the project:
The Makrygialos High School journalistic group will continue this programme in the school year 2018-2019 and will organise the “2nd Journalistic Student Conference” aimed at training students and teachers in electronic journalism and in entrepreneurship, giving students experience of business processes (marketing, advertising, revenue management for public purposes, business plan). The Conference will be extended to the region of Central Macedonia and later to the whole of Greece, with the ultimate goal of becoming an institution for the country’s educational community.
Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:
- Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture
- Living Democracy - manuals for teachers
- Democratic governance of schools
- All Different – All Equal
- Managing controversy
- Teaching controversial issues-training pack
- We CAN!
- Human Rights and Democracy Start with Us – Charter for All
- Freedom(s) - Learning activities for secondary schools on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights
- How all Teachers Can Support EDC/HRE: A Framework for the Development of Competences
- Multimedia Material (ex. video “Beat Bullying”, series of cartoons “Democracy and Human Rights at School”, video “Corporal punishment at school: how two parents decided to change things”)