Material development process: short interview with Debating guides developers

Material development process: short interview with Debating guides developers

The project intends to foster the provision of key-competences, both basic and transversal skills. It promotes take-up of innovative practices in education, by supporting cooperative learning and critical thinking, strategic use of digital devices, open and flexible learning, peer to peer education. It up-grades current interactive debate approaches with methodology for learning in the era of the risk of disinformation. The newly developed methodology will consist of debate activities which will address this and will proceed from the examination of some of the most pressing issues of contemporary European society such as migration, environment, political participation.

In the project we are developing:

Two Teachers’ Guides to Introducing Debate in the Curriculum, one for primary/middle school and one for secondary school.

One Students’ Toolkit for Civic Learning through Debate.

Toolkit translation into the languages of the partnership (Finnish, Italian, Lithuanian, Slovenian, Spanish).

The Debating Guides within the project are going to be developed under the coordination of three international debate experts: Manuele De Conti (Italy),  Javier Pagan Castaño (Spain) and Miha Andrič (Slovenia). Below you can read the interview with Manuele and Javier who shared their thoughts on materials development process.

The work of the Writing Team represents the heart of the project, how are you planning the preparation of the two guides?
Manuele De Conti (SNDI)-  Making the guides is a real challenge. As a writing team, we started to examine the existing literature and we considered it necessary to think of guides effectively related to debate as a teaching methodology or didactic method. In fact, even where the Debate is designed for teaching, little is said about how to use it in the classroom. How to adapt formats to students or how to use it to teach subjects’ content are generally neglected. This is the focus of the guides we are developing, without forgetting the framework of competences to which teachers must refer for the promotion and evaluation of students’ progress.
At what point are you with the writing of the indexes and contents?
Manuele De Conti (SNDI) – There is a strong agreement around the index, already written down. And the index, from time to time, works as a compass for us. However, about debate content, the complexity of the framework, focused on a new framework for competence more adapted to highlight debate related dimensions than the key competence framework, is still at the beginning. But things are going on coherently and this is very important.
What is the greatest difficulty encountered in group work?
 Javier Pagan Castaño (Fundación Educativa Activa-t‏) – As it happens in any team, switching on teamwork is not an easy task. It takes time to work at our full potential. As described by Tuckman in his 1965 paper “Developmental Sequence in Small Groupswe started our journey clarifying the purpose of our work. Even though we knew what was expected from us, we all have our own views of the project and its outcome.
Our desire and willingness to make progress with the content was continuously held back by an implicit need to understand group dynamics, how each of us will fit in and whether we will be able to work well with each other. The first sessions focused on listening and understanding each other´s vision of the project to build a common ground to start working on the content of the manuals. Role descriptions and responsibilities were an important element to agree on to start our work. As we started familiarizing with each other, roles and responsibilities began to form. It was important to develop a relationship among us to understand what part and role we were going to play in the team.

What is the most challenging aspect in preparing the contents of the guides?
 Javier Pagan Castaño (Fundación Educativa Activa-t‏) – One of the main challenges I am facing when preparing the content for the guides is the continuous “interruptions” in the workflow. Even though a group meeting ends up with clear goals for the next meeting, the illusion that there is a lot of time to do the agreed task until the next meeting, normally two weeks, leads me to put the task aside and focus on other issues not connected with the guides. This “huge distraction” derails my mental progress and affects not only my productivity but also my emotional state, since I feel overloaded when the deadline to present the previous meeting compromises approaches. Procrastination makes me feel guilty for not starting the task before and slows the content creation process.