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Citizenship Project: Proposal


John Simkin
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Here is a brief summary of my ideas on our Citizenship Project. This will of course be finalized at our meeting in September. However, this thread will give us a chance to develop our ideas. It should be pointed out that some aspects of my suggestions are determined by the terms of Comenius 2.1

I suggest that we create a website and forum (we have already done this) on the subject of Teaching Citizenship.

In the first year of the project I think we should create a website that contains:

An account of how Citizenship is taught in Europe. This would contain an overview of each individual country plus a database of case-studies.

Members of the project would be responsible for writing an overview of how the subject is taught in their own country. They would also contribute one or more case-studies. These would be published in English and in the language of the author.

This will give us accounts of what is happening in Italy, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Hungary, Sweden, Germany, Greece, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

We could also commission overviews and case-studies for countries outside the project team. I would suggest the best way of doing this is to create associate members. This is something we have done successfully with our E-HELP project.

These people could be paid a small fee for this work. They could also be invited to one of our two meetings a year.

The website could also contain a collection of reviews of resources to teach Citizenship on the web. (I will start a thread on this later today).

Where possible, these overviews (and maybe the case-studies) will be translated into other languages. I suggest we concentrate on the languages of our members. However, we might consider it necessary to have a French version of the material on the website.

In year two we could add to the accounts produced in year one. We might want to consider producing overviews and case-studies from countries outside Europe. For example, our Forum includes teachers from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

I suggest that in year 2 we also begin to write a report that examines how Citizenship is being taught in Europe. This report could even suggest a model approach to the subject.

Under the terms of Comenius 2.1 we have to provide a Conference for teachers at the end of the 3 Year Project. This would be our primary focus in the final year.

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The objectives might be:

Setting up a course for European teachers on teaching Citizenship in Europe, taking into account historical background, European Citizenship, globalisation and immigration...

The course will be based on a web site with will include different educational resources:

Good examples of teaching citizenship (curriculum, lessons, web sites) all around Europe (probably in this case Nordic Countries have a long tradition in teaching Civics)

Historical background (Fight for the vote, women's suffrage, immigrant and minorities rights...)

Overview of actual European political systems and citizens' rights (State-nations, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU...)

Promotion of youth's political involvement and awareness of the need of developping an European citizenship.

European citizenship in the Western world. Does Europe stand for different political and moral values? Is there any difference between Europe and United States as far as the notion of citizenship is concerned?

Citizenship in a globalised world...

I went to a meeting for people about to start running Comenius courses a few months ago. It was pointed out that the concept of “lifelong learning” was going to be very important in approved Comenius projects in the future. Maybe we should consider ways we could incorporate this idea into our project.

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I think that it is quite difficult to add up new things to John's proposal.

Anyway, these are my ideas:

Citizenship as a subject is not taught in all our countries. For instance, in Spain the current government claimed that the subject will be included in the next new curriculum. But, so far we have no Citizenship or Civics subject. In that case, I could focus on the projects and the controversy on this future subject.

I think that it could be very interesting to add up to the project a short overview on the historical process of achieving political rights in our countries and our current political system (institutions, parties, main problems)

I absolutely agree on inviting associate members. It is being quite successful in our E-HELP project and I believe that they will give an important added value to our project. Regarding to associate members, I consider that bringing into the project colleagues from Eastern Europe (in or our the EU) will be very interesting. This is the case of Marina Sergeeva Evaldovna and it could be the case of other teachers from other countries.

In this sense, we have to focus on Europe but we need to compare and relate what is going in our continent with what is going in the US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Is there any sort of European exceptionalism? Is there a different sort of citizenship and political culture? Probably in the case of our British colleagues this question is not so relevant, but I am very often discussing this topic in Spain with friends and students.

Setting up a web site will be one of the main goals of the project. We will include a commented collection of on line resources related to our topic and we can set up some resources to be used by teachers when teaching Citizenship in Europe. A forum will be very useful as well. This forum is a good example of what can be achieved.

English will be the vehicular language, but we should produce resources in our own languages. An important point, that we forgot to solve in EHELP project, is translations. For the non native English-speaking people, specially if you are not an English teacher, it is really hard and time-consuming to write in English :hotorwot

Evidently, third year should be focused on arranging details for the course that will be given to European teachers at the end of the project.

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I can hardly add something to your suggestions. The one thing that is quite important and Juan Carlos has mentioned it is that in some countries (in Russia as well) there isn't a separate subject "Civics" and designing a course on it would be necessary. Perhaps, we could also design a textbook on the subject (but here again the problem of the language arises, whether it's in native language or English as Lingua Franca) or a kind of Tips for Teachers of Civics with suggested curriculum and a set of materials.

On the whole, everithing is quite clear, I mean what to be into for three years. I've started collecting information of how Civics is taught in Russia.

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I would like to include another aspect: how national/"nationalistic" are the textbooks we use in our classes. Compared to the history books we use in our German schools the Politics/Citizenship books still focus on Germany and German problems. It goes without saying that students have to know their own political system, its historic roots, the polticial/social/economic problem their own nation(s) faces but I also think that materials used in a good citizenship course must include European/international topics - not as an extra but as an integral part of a curriculum aiming at an understanding and assessment of Europe and the world.

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I went to a meeting for people about to start running Comenius courses a few months ago. It was pointed out that the concept of “lifelong learning” was going to be very important in approved Comenius projects in the future. Maybe we should consider ways we could incorporate this idea into our project.

It is already important. When writing an application it is important to consider the general goals of the Socrates programme but also the annual transversal priorities. Section 8 of the application form is dedicated to this. For example when e-Help applied in March 2004 the relevant transversal priorites included:

Transversal priorities 2004

The future challenges to education and training systems and Lifelong learning

A joint ‘detailed work programme’ (8) of the European Commission and the Council, which aims at implementing the report on the ‘Concrete future Objectives of education and training Systems’ (9) was adopted by the Education Council in February 2002. A Council resolution on lifelong learning which followed the Commission's 2001 Communication ‘Making a European Area of Lifelong Learning a Reality’ (10) was adopted in May 2002 and set out a wide range of follow-up actions. These policy initiatives are being implemented by means of the ‘Integrated Approach’ focussing on eight thematic activities:

— teacher and trainer education,

— basic skills, foreign language teaching, entrepreneurship,

— information and communication technology (ICT) in education and training,

— increasing participation in mathematics and science,

— resources and investment,

— mobility and European cooperation,

— open learning environment, active citizenship, inclusion,

— making learning attractive, strengthening links with working life and society.

Applications submitted under Socrates are expected to play an important role in supporting the implementation of these priority themes, as they are entirely consistent with the programme's objectives.

One of our members (Andy Davies) has been working on something that we may be able to adapt for our project. Andy will write in more detail about this later but it involves a course for adults about preserving the environment.

One thing that I think will be attractive to Comenius is to produce an outline of how we can teach adults about citizenship. A collection of ideas that educators could take from our website in order to teach in their local community about all the issues raised by the concept of what it means to be a good citizen. This could include a course on how to protect our environment.

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Althoug I know it is not the best time to talk about the European Commission proposals, the EC organised an experts group to reflect on teaching citizenship in 1997 and they concluded that there were five dimensions in the teaching of a new European citizenship :

Democratic principles

Social rights

Gender equality

Multicultural dimension

Environment dimension, sort of environmentalist citizenship.

So it can be a good idea to include it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Maybe we can start thinking about a certain extent of specialization in some of those five dimensions. I am mainly interested in Democratic principles and Multicultural dimension. The concept of European citizenship introduced by the Maastricht Treaty is other topic I am quite interested in working on. Specially, in those times when the idea of Euroepan integration is in crisis.

Edited by Juan Carlos
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