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Agenda: (1) Citizenship Proposal


John Simkin
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I am aware that most of the people who have stated they have an interest in joining the project, cannot attend the meeting at Worthing. I therefore intend to start a series of new threads that will enable both attendees and non-attendees to join these debates.

The first one concerns the actual proposal. Here is a brief summary of my ideas on our Citizenship Project. 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 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.

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 our meetings.

The website could also contain a collection of reviews of resources to teach Citizenship on the web.

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 other versions 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 agenda sounds clear and logical. in my opinion, any project should be aimed at solving a defibite problem, as a consequence, we should have a good rationale for the project title. I mean, if the participants at first analyse how Citizenship is taught in their countries and highlight the problems connected with it, compare them the others' results and make up a list of common problems in teaching Citizenship In Europe and outside. I think, it would be a good argument for EU. That might be the first step (brief analysis). And all the other steps, suggested by John, are the ways of problems solving.

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As an outline proposal, John's ideas seem both sensible and achievable.

My main reservation concerns year one. Although it is important to take into account how citizenship is approached in different countries it may be that the most interesting approaches are taking place within schools that have some freedom to operate outside proscribed national systems. If this is the situation then more emphasis is needed on identifying examples of good practice and/or initiatives that schools are introducing – in other words I feel the case studies may turn out to contain the most rewarding areas.

Another slight reservation for me is the mechanics of making each member responsible for the overview of their host/home country. Perhaps my situation of working in France in but delivering a curriculum in English highlights my desire to differentiate between host and home.

I think an overview of the approaches towards citizenship is very important but there could be some benefit in the review being written by somebody who is not involved in its day to day delivery. They obviously the author of any overview need to talk to the practitioners but is it and advantage or a disadvantage for them to be involved in its delivery on a day to day basis.

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I'd like to endorse John's proposals too. I like the idea of us 'taking a stand' in Year Two (in terms of proposing a model … or perhaps just identifying 'best practice'). I suspect that Year One is going to reveal some quite important conceptual differences between what the various countries see as 'Citizenship' (I forecast, for example, that there'll be 'prescriptive-descriptive' differences). It would be very good if we could address these differences head-on in Year Two, even if we have to work through a certain amount of disagreement.

I realise too that an EU Project Group has no actual power over national curricula … but it surely must be within our remit to contrast what is happening with what we suggest ought to be happening.

In terms of associate members, we have a number of experienced teacher trainers of 'Citizenship' teachers who are very enthusiastic about the whole idea. If we get funding to pursue this matter here in Kalmar, my suggestion internally will be that they provide the ideas and I take responsibility for getting them recorded and included in the Project web site.

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