Utilizing “Areas of Interest” in a Greek High School

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Project summary:

This is an action research study aimed at investigating teenage student’s (17-18 years old) reactions utilizing an “Areas of Interest” approach to document their learning during their lessons in vocational high school. Furthermore, this study tries to explore how this approach may help the teachers improve their professional practice in the classroom.



My purpose by applying the “Areas of Interest” was to understand if the content and the processes of teaching can be differentiated when based on students’ interests, with students choosing what to do and how. The study examines if this approach is more effective than the traditional teaching. Furthermore, the challenge of freedom with giudance by the teachers can be addressed. The teacher will be able to observe and work with individuals or groups of students. The environment will be flexible, transformable and responsive to students changing interests and pre- occupations.  


Today, teaching in Greece in secondary schools is defined as an oral presentation of the lesson to students – listeners, which is facilitated, for example, by slides and power point, video. The students in turn have to learn what they hear from the teacher, remember and recall it. It is observed that this teaching method is sufficient in imparting information, but it is ineffective in inspiring interest in the subject of learning, teaching skills, forming values ​​derived from the subject, changing students’ attitudes and promoting thinking and cognitive development.


In September 2023 I found myself in a school located at the center of Athens. I observed that there is no strong connection between the teachers and the students. The students, because of this traditional way of teaching by the teachers, were dissatisfied and in the corridors of the school expressions were heard such as

“can I sleep in class while you talk?”, “would you be the only one talking today?”

I also found a school absence. Building types of effective learning processes

did not seem to be goal for teachers and students. This presented me with the opportunity to try the Froebelian- inspired practice of “freedom with guidance” by making the students approach the subject of the teaching material from among their interests. In this way I created the “Areas of Interest” in my classroom. Apedagogy based on an active learning environment of selected activities among their own interests, as precisely applied in preschool setting for documenting children’s experiences in their early years. I was interested if this new practice would affect the relationship dynamics among students and teachers.


This is a qualitative study and data were collected through observations and focus groups. I observed 25 students at the vocational high school where I was teaching. After two months of observations, I created large tables on which there were elements of their interests, such as music area or art area. For a week that corresponds to 4 teaching hours of the subject “infant and toddler education” and which had to be taught to the “the life and the pedagogical approach of FROEBEL”, I chose to create the “Areas of Interest”.

The students who participated in this study were students in my classroom, and the new practice that was under investigation was introduced as part of my teaching practices. I informed the students about my research, which was conducted as part of my professional development, and obtained their verbal consent to participate. As “Areas of Interest” were shared as part of my teaching practices within the classroom setting, there was no need to obtain parental consent.

The experience of this particular teaching was an unknown continent and the approach of guidance with freedom was the map. A map shows many roads, in order for one to travel a route. If you want, follow the shortcut (traditional teaching), but you can also follow the most beautiful, the most interesting for the students (guidance with freedom). Who could say that maps are useless?


“Areas of Interest” were designed to motivate students to begin or deepen study on topics of interest to them. It differs from a ‘Learning Centre’, which is designed to provide practice or further understanding of subject matter. I observed first-hand the importance of active learning through engagement to become autonomous learners. Two factors that can positively or negatively influence the student’s motivation to learn are: the student’s interest in the specific material to be learned and his ability to choose for himself. In the ” Areas of Interest ” students feel that their interests are  valued and the chances of active participation and learning are increased.

Furthermore, designing based on student interests encourages them to discover what new things they might like. Both the activities and the discussions on topics that concern the children and which are related to their personal experiences, allow the content of the syllabus (curriculum), which is rigid and provides only oral deliveries from the teacher without taking into account the learning difficulties that any student may encounter.In contrast, interest-based design allowed students to discover their own personal space, explore themselves, express their interests, and lead to effective learning. An important element of all this approach to the course was through the community of the class, which was essentially connected as through the manifestation of their interests, the students found common ground but also got to know their classmate even more effectively.

In the beginning, many children could not find their real interests. Many times, they said that they did not understand what was going on.

-“Can I be so free?”

“Would you not be the only one to talk about his life, but through a puppet theater we will narrate his life?”

“That is, if I draw Froebel and his life, will you understand that I have read?”

Despite the initial difficulties, the students gave their best, enjoyed the process and discovered new interests, but also explored more directly what they already knew and liked. Especially in the area of ​​art, it was impressive how quickly they created a video looking for the most basic points of Froebel’s pedagogical work. More insight is needed into how quickly students can identify their interests so that they immediately feel familiar and a part of the group, even if their interests differ greatly from those already stated by other students. Also, in this research there were also students who did not choose what to do in the learning process based on their interests but based on the group they would like to be with. Studying froebel’s pedagogical principles the students were excited about how creative children can be in the kindergarten gardens. They consider it difficult to adopt this kind of gardens in Greek kindergartens, but these young students, after their study on Froebel, strongly question the gardens that only offer plastic toys.


The approach of ” Areas of Interest” intended to motivate students to begin study on topics of interest to them. In order that the lesson is not done only by the teacher and the students do not move away from the learning process. It is clear that students will learn the basic skills better when they have the chance to practice them in a meaningful, interesting context. And these types of activities make teaching more fun and fulfilling, and make school a more pleasant place to be. Through this action research I have gained a deep understanding of the power of community when students act with freedom and learning each other more effectively. The ” Areas of Interest” is a tool that can help build a more connected learning environment. In the future I want to see if areas of interest are possible to be in all maths.



Research implications

To be completed

Practitioner enquiry

To be completed

Leadership learning

To be completed

Author and role

To be completed

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