In Italy the process of teachers’ recruitment for EAR project started in May 2019 and it successfully ended in September 2019 with the involvement of 35 practicing teachers and 135 pre-service teachers. These latter were students participating to EAR within the framework of their Initial Teacher Training at the University of Florence. The training of the pre-service teachers took place at the University whilst the training sessions for practicing teachers have ben carried out in their respective schools where later the EAR methodology has been implemented, namely the “Istituto Comprensivo Empoli Est” in Empoli (a small town in the area of Florence) and the “Istituto Comprensivo Ghiberti” in Florence. The training of (future) teachers and the implementation of the EAR methodology in the classrooms with about 900 students (9-15 yo) dates back to October and November 2019.
The design of the training program resulted quite challenging as trainees’ educational needs and availability varied from teachers in their initial training to practicing teachers. Indeed, these latter were already overwhelmed with their ordinary school activities and they could not dedicate more than 6 hours to face to face activities. Hence, two slightly different training programs have been designed and delivered in order to cope with the different trainees’ needs. Overall the training of pre-service teachers lasted 16 hours, including 10 hours of face to face sessions and 6 hours of online training. Even the training programme addressing practicing teachers lasted 16 hours but it consisted of 6 hours of training sessions and 10 hours of online activities. Both training programs started before the implementation of the educational scenarios at school and then continued in parallel with the classroom activities in order to provide trainees with constructive feedback on the implementation of the method. Furthermore, participants were formed into collaborative teams of practising teachers and pre-service teachers. This approach allowed trainees to cooperate and learn from each other throughout the training process, as well as to collect significant observations and evaluations about the impact of EAR method on students from different perspectives.
Four educational scenarios lasting 6 hours each have been successfully implemented in the classroom. The scenarios addressed different topics, specifically the “right to curiosity” in formal education, the “right to solidarity” among fellow citizens, the “right to fear” as a problematisation of the role of fear in contemporary human relations and the “right to silence” in a hyper communicative media world. Hence, in each classroom the (future) teachers delivered one of the aforementioned ready-made scenarios of their choice depending of students’ educational needs. However, in several occasions, teachers revised some theatrical games and/or guiding questions for the dialectical discussions in order to meet at best students’ interests and learning styles. In this respect, EAR method resulted rather flexible and adaptable to different situations. In general, the undergoing analysis of trainees’ surveys, logbooks, competence ladders and focus group with students suggests a very positive impact of EAR method both on teachers’ professional development in relation to citizenship education and on students’ citizenship competences, namely their ability to interact effectively and constructively with others, to think critically, to act in a socially responsible manner and to act democratically. Lately the EAR Italian team – Maria Ranieri (scientific coordinator), Francesco Fabbro (researcher), Stefano Cuomo (project manager), Katiuscia Favilli and Daniele Torrini (trainers) – are organising and delivering several dissemination events (i.e. workshops on EAR method and webinars about research findings) dedicated to teachers and educators based all over the Country.