20 SES 04 B, Developing Teachers and Learners for Collaborative Intercultural and Inclusive Teaching
This paper builds on young adults' views on European citizenship: the building of the European Union; its institutional architecture, respective competences and decision-making processes, and the exercise of European Citizenship. It explores the opportunities provided by innovative learning environments to promote European citizenship and learning (Arnot, 2009). We make resource to the theoretical/political debates on Europeanisation, 'youth', citizenship and education.
The notion of a European identity solidified in the late 1980’s leading to the introduction of the European dimension in the states’ public education. Today Europeanisation is a broad geographical supranational integration that combines distinct regimes of citizenship within a heterogeneous political space (Bauböck & Guiraudon, 2009). The contested notion of European citizenship leads to questioning the rights and forms of participation and belonging that this concept may encompass (Magnette, 2007). The difficulty in building a European public space is reflected in the difficulty to find the spaces that shape learning opportunities for that citizenship (Delanty, 2003), the learning of Europe as location of civic and cultural belonging.
The European project matches the constitution of the European education and the European education policy (Dale, 2009). In 2000, the Lisbon Strategy (EC, 2000) sets a milestone in the Europeanisation of education policy. It defines a clear political agenda, legitimating broader educational cooperation, placing education and training as key instruments for European integration (Fredriksson, 2003; Alexiadou, 2005) and the training of young EU citizens.
Education policies have the form of recommendations or guidelines and not of a contractual obligation in the development of European identity (Cowles & Risse, 2001; Nóvoa, 2005). We may admit that European integration opens way to supranational reflection and political decision-making, which tend to promote more reciprocal and inclusive patterns of thinking, as Habermas argues (Georgi, 2008).
In the field of ‘youth’, the Open Method of Coordination elucidates the European concerns with involving young people in Europeanisation. It was presented as a facilitator of political convergence that promotes youth participation through the introduction of mechanisms that would lead to positive consequences on their citizenship(s). As prime tools in the local community, schools are expected to constitute spaces for the exercise of citizenship through participation (COM, 2001). The White Paper (ibid.) reported ‘youth’ discontent about their educational systems: democratic deficit, lack of encouragement for participation and learning opportunities, and distance from European political/social realities and needs. Charting broad directions and goals for education, this document reflects on the need to create conditions for the formation of the citizens that Europe needs for its social and economic development.
The construction and exercise of citizenship requires knowledge about the EU, its history and operation, its institutions and values, and how it fits the rights of European citizens. Learning about the EU is essential for European integration with and not in spite of citizens. Innovative learning environments where young people have opportunities to participate and collaborate may facilitate the day-to-day construction of knowledge and meanings, attitudes and actions, enhancing the openness and experience of diversity implied by a shared space of belonging.
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