Youth4EmblematicMountains: an experience of cascade training to raise awareness of youngers about cultural and natural heritage
Education towards heritage is essential to develop active citizenship committed to social change. To achieve this purpose, teachers should propose an instructional design based on a combination of interactive pedagogical tools, which could lead to a deep understanding of the heritage of a territory by the students. Consequently, teachers’ training is key to ensuring that they can propose learning experiences that engage students to face the socio-environmental issues of their context (Cuenca-López et al., 2021; López et al., 2020).
The main aim of the Youth4EmblematicMountains project is to raise awareness among teaching staff and students from Berguedà (Spain), Canigo (France), Gran Sasso (Italy) and Olympus (Greece) to make them aware of the natural and cultural heritage of their territories. One of the actions foreseen is the proposal of the ”Train the trainers’” course with the following objectives: (1) To provide teaching staff with efficient educational methods on natural and cultural heritage and eco-friendly jobs. (2) To guide teachers in designing an educational toolkit for future training actions with students.
A prospective methodology was based on two consecutive phases. Firstly, a blended ”Train the trainers’” course was designed and implemented to train teaching staff on designing pedagogical tools. Specific collecting data techniques were conducted: quantitative tests were run to evaluate participants’ level of knowledge and the analysis of content of the experiences shared in the forum spaces. Secondly, participants were requested to design a cross-cutting project where educational tools were proposed on natural or cultural heritage or eco-friendly jobs. Projects were assessed with the use of rubrics. Furthermore, a satisfaction questionnaire about the Train the trainers’ course was conducted at the end of the training.
51 participants enrolled in the course and 52.9% passed with 6.3 as the average grade. 8 experts shared their experiences in webinars. 26 teachers participated actively. 11 working groups from all countries designed 9 hands-on projects that covered a diversity of cultural and natural educational activities. The general rating was 3.5/5, which showed a good satisfaction of the different components assessed: educational material, pedagogical guide, recommended readings, webinars & forums and cross-cutting activities.
The Train the trainers’ course was based on transformative and experiential learning. Transformative as learners construct new meaning structures that help them perceive and make sense of their changing world (Khabanyane, Maimane, & Ramabenyane, 2014). Specifically, participants gained conviction of the need to raise awareness of the natural and cultural heritage and the importance of its protection through educative actions and the available local resources. Experiential as it was based on learning by doing that enable trainees to critically process their experiences (Voukelatou, 2019).
The present study shows the importance of training teaching staff to raise awareness of cultural, natural heritage and eco-friendly jobs. The Train the trainers’ course was successfully implemented and allowed the exchange educational experiences among the four countries. Trained staff became new ambassadors in the territories by implementing the projects designed in their schools.