25 SES 07, Democracy, Rights, and Civic Decision-Making
The report compiled by Eurydice (2012) shows a lack in Italian educational strategies about two of the 7 key competences: social and civic competences and sense of initiative and entrepreneurship. In these two educational areas, Italy does not present national strategy and/or large-scale initiatives.
In our perspective these key competence are strictly link to children’s rights, in particular the education of the young to take an active role in society and to be critically able to make choices.
Ministerial Decree no. 139/2007 defined 'competences for citizenship' as the capacity to collaborate and participate, and create connections and relations and the school system has a specific role in these achievement and educational researchers have a particular responsibility in support school’s role.
The great attention gives to these competences leads us to reflect on an educative experience, which might help teachers to support children in developing social and civic competences.
Starting from this contextual background, we have outlined an educative experience (on virtues) and we have realized a research on this experience. We engage our self in what we call an educative research for children (Mortari, 2009)
The educative experience aims to include an ethical perspective in the competence discourse, following Crick (2008) who stresses the importance of an holistic model of competence, which (a) «incorporates an ethical dimension» and (b) «is embedded in a socio-cultural, ethical trajectory andincludes a sense of agency, intention and capability in real-life contexts».
The ethical dimension is fostered following the ancient Greek philosophy that is at the root of the European cultural tradition, in particular concerning the political life and our democracy. Socrates educated young people to become citizens able to lead the political life of the city, and in his philosophy virtue has a particular role. Indeed, virtues become the idea from which we develop an educative experience with children about ethic.
Considering the previous theoretical background, we present data from a particular activity we proposed to children in order to construct their idea about generosity, courage and respect.
In a first activity we collected children personal ideas on the three virtues.
In a second activity we asked to the children to construct a common idea on the virtues (the idea of the group) and to find out and chose the method in order to reach their common idea.
We consider this second activity an interesting activity in order to engage children in a civic task (i.e. choosing a common idea) and considering their stance in taking initiative and collaborating with others (i.e. choosing the method to get a common idea). Furthermore the discussion considers an ethical concern: dialoguing about virtues – that is, according to Plato, the essence of politics.
Specific research questions on the activity were the following:
Which competence do children’s display in this activity?
What ideas do they support?
Answering to these specific questions helps us to consider the main research question that informs the whole research: which kind of thinking do children display in the ethical domain?
Crick, R. D (2008) Key Competencies for Education in a European Context: narratives of accountability or care, European Educational Research Journal, 7 (3), pp. 311- 318. Eurydice (2012) Developing key competences at school in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities for Policy, Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. Erlandson, D. A. (1993). Doing naturalistic inquiry: a guide to methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Mortari, L. (2009) La ricerca per i bambini, Mondadori, Milano.
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