Polyxeni Eleftheriou, P.h.D. Candidate

Polyxeni Eleftheriou

Teaching the Asia Minor Disaster with Teaching and Learning Based on Problem Solving and Decision Making

Until recently, the view of the “historically inevitable” in the History lesson was dominated, according to which historical events are treated in a way that does not allow multiple interpretations, as the conclusion of historical events is known.Thus, the implementation of models to solve open historical problems was considered impossible.This perception has been replaced by newer research in the sense that history is not a straightforward narrative or a simple temporal but above all a process of solving loosely structured problems.Thus, the development of historical thinking and the incorporation of contradictions into a dialectical “whole” requires some teaching skills that are a prerequisite for the implementation of the problem-solving method, such as: determining the relevant goals of the problem, searching for relevant information , collecting and selecting evidence, designing research, evaluating outcomes, analytical skills, argumentation skills, multivariate causes, and multidimensionality (Mavroskoufis, 2010: 162-165).The purpose of this paper is to teach the traumatic historical fact of the Asia Minor Catastrophe and the extermination of the Pontians and the Minorites in a particular teaching unit of the school history lesson with teaching models based on “problem based learning” and “decision making” to develop critical thinking.A motive for the application was the descriptive narrative of the 3rd Grade’s Senior Highschool book, “History of the Modern and Modern World” on the events of the Asia Minor Catastrophe and the screening of the documentary “From Asia Minor Hello” to the archives’ web site of ERT (www.ert-archives.gr).It is noted that there are no references to the following events that are directly related to the Asia Minor Disaster: the first persecution of the Greeks in 1914, the “work orders / amele taburu” as the second phase of the persecutions from 1914-1918, thediplomatic relations with the Allies in the Friendship Agreement (1920), the internal policy of Greece, the Fraklin-Buillon Pact (1921), the nationalism of the Young Turks movement, the events of the extermination of Greek Pontians and Minorites.The finding of the descriptive narrative of the events in the handbook and the concernthat the documentary caused the students led to the “discernment” of the narrative. So the problem has been raised among students: “Can it or not – and why – responsibilities be imputed for the Asia Minor Disaster to acts or omissions of certain persons?”.

The implementation of problem-solving in history is based on the following stages: problem definition, strategy-model selection, model-strategy implementation, solution / outcome assessment and resolution strategy.Otherwise, the process develops as follows: definition of the problem, development of a temporary case, testing of the temporary case, drawing a conclusion, control of the conclusion (Costa, 2001).While the strategies applied are resource analysis, decision making, case creation and testing, research, interpretation, experimentation, observation, argument development.At the same time, students use critical thinking skills, such as distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant, distinguishing trustworthy opinions from opinions, detecting prejudices, judging the credibility of sources, and determining the validity of an argument.

The activities a teacher has to develop in order to cultivate problem-solving and decision-making skills in the history lesson is to bring students to confrontation with conflicting sources and arguments, to help students identify prejudices and stereotypes,to seek out, both he and the pupils themselves, texts and elements that confirm or contradict the school manual, guide students to use convincing arguments in support of their views, to distinguish the facts from the comments, to evaluate the information they collect and make reasonable and documented conclusions.A productive way to divide the critical thinking into teaching history is for the pupils to do what the historians do, ie to solve problems with problem-solving activities and with teaching modules that are appropriate for problem solving (Costa, 2001).