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Citizenship Meeting: Objectives


John Simkin
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The meeting in Worthing has several objectives. This includes the following:

1. We have to develop a Citizenship Comenius 2.1 proposal.

2. We need to discover what each of us can bring to the project.

3. We have to discover if we can work together.

It is obviously going to be difficult to make judgements about those who cannot attend the meeting. The only way I can think of doing this is to have some of this debate on the forum. During the meeting I will be starting threads for all those areas we will be discussing at the meeting in Worthing. If you are not able to attend this meeting in Worthing, it is vitally important that you contribute to this debate.

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Is it possible to set up a Marratech connection during the Worthing meeting? We could certainly host it on one of our servers; the people in Worthing would ideally need a room mike + projector and a broadband connection; and the other participants who aren't in Worthing just need to have a cheap webcam and headset, and download the free Client software.

If we set up a regular set of meetings throughout the weekend, at least you'd get some idea of who we all are.

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The problem I see is that only a few of those who want to participate in the project will be in Worthing. This makes it difficult to find out and decide who will be working on different possible ideas.

David's suggestion might be an idea of how to involve those who cannot attend the intial meeting in Worthing.

The main aim of the meeting in Worthing for me is that we develop a clear timetable and plan of what we want to do in the following three years.

One of the first steps I think will be to collect and compile the citizenship projects, lesson plans, guidelines etc. which have already been developed be e.g. the Council of Europe, the European Union etc.; this will help us to find our specific topics and threads or to establish and outline a different aspect, perspective and opinion. In Worthing we should find a suitable division of labour to get this done.

Another important step is to find out how citizenship is taught in the different countries: topics included; methods employed, aims, age groups. We need this to create lesson plans, suggest projects which can be used in different European countries and might be the first tiny cornerstone for a European curriculum. This must be done by the colleagues from the participating countries.

I am not quite sure if this forum is the suitable place for the discussions which will be necessary after the meeting. I personally think that there are too many threads already which make this subforum slightly confusing. In the beginning the "new" forum should be for the Comenius participants only and the forum should focus on education and teaching.

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The problem I see is that only a few of those who want to participate in the project will be in Worthing. This makes it difficult to find out and decide who will be working on different possible ideas. David's suggestion might be an idea of how to involve those who cannot attend the intial meeting in Worthing.

This problem is made even worse by the large number of institutions that want to take part in the project. We will have to prune this number.

I am afraid we will not have very much technology at the meeting. I would advise people to bring their laptops to Worthing.

The main aim of the meeting in Worthing for me is that we develop a clear timetable and plan of what we want to do in the following three years.

One of the first steps I think will be to collect and compile the citizenship projects, lesson plans, guidelines etc. which have already been developed be e.g. the Council of Europe, the European Union etc.; this will help us to find our specific topics and threads or to establish and outline a different aspect, perspective and opinion. In Worthing we should find a suitable division of labour to get this done.

Another important step is to find out how citizenship is taught in the different countries: topics included; methods employed, aims, age groups. We need this to create lesson plans, suggest projects which can be used in different European countries and might be the first tiny cornerstone for a European curriculum. This must be done by the colleagues from the participating countries.

Agreed. A lot of this has already been done by some members of the project. I believe these people should be given priority.

I am not quite sure if this forum is the suitable place for the discussions which will be necessary after the meeting. I personally think that there are  too many threads already which make  this subforum slightly confusing. In the beginning the "new" forum should be for the Comenius participants only and the forum should focus on education and teaching.

Other than face to face meetings the Forum is currently the only way we can do this.

I am surprised you find the Forum confusing. Maybe you could suggest better ways it could be organized.

I do not agree about confining a “new forum” to members only. One of the major objectives of Comenius 2.1 projects is dissemination. An open forum is a great way to do this. Also, I hope teachers reading our discussions will be inspired to establish their own Comenius projects.

By the way, could you add your photograph as an avatar. If you find this difficult to do, please send it to me by email or snail post and I will do it for you. It is actually forum rules for members to include a photograph as a avatar.

It will also help me identify you when I pick you up from the railway station.

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I think a or the Forum should be part of our discussion in Worthing, but let me give you an example to show the problems I have with the existing forum.

The thread "Do we live in a democracy" is a very interesting one and if I had more time I really would enjoy joining the debate, but when I go into my year 9 class tomorrow - and that will be their first politics/citizenship lesson in their school life - this question might be a good starting point but most of the different postings are not really helpful for me or my class.

My aim in class is not only to explain the basic principles of democratic systems but alsoto convince the students that a democracy is still the best form of government despite the flaws our individual systems have. Furthermore I want to convince them that the more citizens participate actively the better the system. One part of this process definitely is to evaluate and assess different democratic systems.

What would really help me and my colleagues, who all have to cope with an ever growing workload - would be lesson plans, text, suggestions concerning interesting teaching methods to educate active citizens who can critically evaluate and assess political systems, decisions etc.

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I think a or the Forum should be part of our discussion in Worthing, but let me give you an example to show the problems I have with the existing forum.

The thread "Do we live in a democracy" is a very interesting one and if I had more time I really would enjoy joining the debate, but when I go into my year 9 class tomorrow  - and that will be their first politics/citizenship lesson in their school life - this question might be a good starting point but most of the different postings are not really helpful for me or my class.

My aim in class is not only to explain the basic principles of democratic systems but alsoto convince the students that a democracy is still the best form of government despite the flaws our individual systems have. Furthermore I want to convince them that the more citizens participate actively the better the system. One part of this process definitely is to evaluate and assess different democratic systems.

What would really help me and my colleagues, who all have to cope with an ever growing workload - would be lesson plans, text, suggestions concerning interesting teaching methods to educate active citizens who can critically evaluate and assess political systems, decisions etc.

I think we are talking about two different things here. The Citizenship Project will definitely need its own website. This could provide links to certain threads that refers to particular resources. Or, those resources could be kept on the website.

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By the way, could you add your photograph as an avatar. If you find this difficult to do, please send it to me by email or snail post and I will do it for you. It is actually forum rules for members to include a photograph as a avatar.

It will also help me identify you when I pick you up from the railway station.

Thank you for the photograph. It has been added as your avatar.

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Sorry for not participating in last debates. I am just back from a short holidays.

As we will have very little time in Worthing and not all the future partners will attend the meeting, I do think that we need to be very practical.

The main objective of our reunion is to draft a Comenius 2.1. application form to be handed in Brussels. This sort of three years teachers training project have as most important aim to prepare and give a (or several) residential course for European teachers.

So we have to agree:

A title of the project (probably this will be the last thing we have to agree on, but I will highlight the European and TIC dimension)

Languages of the project

Coordinating institution (this is a main point)

A list of partner institutions (we need several universities or teaching training centers) I strongly support to establish links with associated European institutions that bring their expertise into the project.

Objectives

Researching and analyising the current teaching of Citizenship in Europe.

(I would focus mainly on resources available on the internet)

Setting up a website and a public discussion forum (Education Forum role will be discuss. We can use for partners communication a restricted area of the forum)

Setting up didactic sequences, modules, learning objects... (a lot of different names in the different European countries) to teach from a European point of view different key topics (to be uploaded on our web site).

Some topics could be:

Historical background (political rights, women's rights...) I cannot help being a History teacher...

Political and electoral systems in Europe (comparative analysis)

European citizenship (originis, content, future...)

Immigration and citizenship

Terrorism and citizenship

Nationalism and citizenship (specially important topic in Spain and other European countries)

USA and Europe: two different notions of citizenship

I am not an expert at all, but as we have several language teachers in the project, probably it could be a good idea to work on language and citizenship topics.

The same for environmental issues and citizenship.

Setting up a sort of European network of Citizenship teachers.

As far as phases of the project are concerned, I simply copy and paste what is written in EHELP project application. I think it can be used with slight changes.

Phases of the project (three years)

Researching, reviewing and evaluating existing practices.

Establishing and maintaining the website and online forum.

Planning, piloting and evaluating the residential course.

Dissemination

And, finally, the most complicated issue for me: the budget.

In this case, I think that EHELP application form can help us a lot.

Edited by Juan Carlos
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Coordinating institution (this is a main point)

Thank you Juan Carlos for an excellent posting. (It is no coincidence that you were the first person I asked to join the project).

The issue of the coordinating institution is an important one. I have taking the lead in organizing the meeting. However, I have been told by a representative of Comenius that we are unlikely to get our proposal accepted if Spartacus Educational is down as the coordinating institution. The reason for this is the size of the institution. I run a small business with a low turnover. Comenius needs to have the ability to recover its money if the project is not completed. It is the coordinating institution that is responsible for paying this money back. Therefore, Comenius insists on dealing with large institutions. I am willing to take responsibility for doing the paperwork but the application itself will probably have to come from another institution.

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