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    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Other posts have referred to the possible need to 'europeanise' education in order to socialise citizens in the realities of the EU and to help foster a collective European identity (see http://europeanstory.net/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=4&page=1#Item_11). We would welcome comments and discussion of how this might be implemented more effectively or further developed. How should teachers and schools tell the 'European story'? How should citizenship classes be taught and how should they approach 'Europe'? What kinds of approaches currently exist in EU member states and what scope is there for lesson learning? Is there currently enough public appetite to 'Europeanise' education?

    Leni Wild
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Well, I already made comments about this on the other thread, I'm not going to repeat myself. I think there is no "way" to teach Europe, other than to just make it feel as natural as it can, and as it is to many people. It is unacceptable that a 15 year old from Malaga feels that Stockholm is about as far away from him as Tokyo. It is unacceptable that Europeans should be afraid from each other. The best solution would be a "European" education, mixing children with others from other countries from the earliest ages...unfortunately it seems difficult to organize exchanges on a very large scale, and "European schools" as they exist in Brussels or Luxembourg only affect a minority of people who are already in international surroundings.

    So...the second best solution is to make children familiar with other European countries and Europe's history every day, in all activities. In France (I don't know much about other educational systems) history of the EU is taught only to pupils in their last year of high school, at 18 years old. Why? Why not, in primary school, when children are taught about their country's basic geography and history, add a European perspective? On a more revolutionary perspective, I would like the French-German initiative of a common history book for modern history to be expanded to the rest of Europe, and to the rest of history. Only by understanding how we share a common history will people understand how close they are to each other.

    This doesn't mean lowering the level at all. But, for instance: instead of learning lists of kings and queens, most European countries have decided to teach the Middle Ages through society, the birth of cities, the great plagues, the basic institutional changes, the importance of Church...and this was true all over Europe! It would be very easy, often just by changing the way teachers think, to move from "in our country, in the Middle Ages" to "in Europe, in the Middle Ages". And you could make particular points about the way Spain evolved with the Moorish occupation, or other regional differences. It would put an end to that idea that European countries have evolved parallel to each other, at best waging war on each other.

    I think the problem is really a resistance to change the way we think about our histories. We still think through the shape of the nation-state, forgetting that the birth of the modern state was possible in Europe because of the relations between countries, eager to become independent from pan-European powers and thus allying as sovereign states. We still teach our children about our national cultural movements, forgetting to mention that these currents existed throughout Europe, and that their members were aware of that and communicated. I'm not sure how easy or difficult these changes would be, but they are simple. We just need the courage to implement them.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The last thing anyone should do is attempt to brainwash children - which is exactly how such moves would be described by anti-EU types Europe-wide. Any attempt to paint the continent as having more in common than not would likewise fail, because the single most obvious feature of the last 2,000+ years of European history is the constant warfare.

    Where a European identity could be fostered in schools is merely in expanding traditional historical (and cultural) education to take in a more Europe-wide focus - not by any deliberate "hey kids, let's talk about the EU - it's great!" kind of patronising, propagandistic nonsense.

    In the UK, this could mean teaching about Charlemagne as well as his contemporary Alfred the Great; the rise of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and co. as well as Henry VIII's disollution of the monasteries; the Wars of Religion as well as the English Civil War; teaching Dante alongside Chaucer, Cervantes alongside Shakespeare, George Sand as well as George Eliot - putting everything that happens and has happened in what is now the UK into a wider, European context.

    This in itself would enable greater understanding of one's own country's history - which can otherwise seem entirely independent of outside events. The Norman Conquest, for example, is always taught in Britain as if the political situation in France at the time was of no import; the Spanish Armada springs from nowhere to threaten Good Queen Bess; William III comes to claim the throne from James II out of the goodness of his heart - rather than through the need to prevent Laouis XIV from gaining more power. (The ultimate expression of this is the rousing cry of "a thousand years of British history!" from the patriotic types who tend to oppose the EU - a cry that conveniently forgets that it's only 950 years, that the starting point they choose was the conquest of a French/Scandinavian king, and that there hasn't been a truly English monarch on the throne of England (assuming you ignore the fact that the Tudors were part Welsh) since 1603.)

    This would not only be a better way to teach history in that it would give a far wider knowledge base from which to formulate pet theories of how and why things happened (which is part of the joy of history in the first place), but would also lead to a greater understanding of the interconnections between all the various European countries. I've taken a UK focus, but this could work just as easily with The rest oF the continent.

    The initial reason for the EU's formation was to prevent France and Germany going to war - and that is now unlikely ever to happen again (though whether thanks to the EU is another question entirely) - but what seems to be forgotten these days is just how often every other European nation was at war. Pretty much the only western European country that Britain hasn't gone to war with at some point is Portugal. France, Germany and Spain have been at war with everyone.

    Show the interconnections, discuss past wars, show how much better the current peaceful situation is, highlight the interconnections between all our various histories, politics and artistic cultures, and only an idiot would deny that we're much better off now and that culturally we have much in common.

    Would that be enough to foster an enthusiasm for "ever-closer union"? Of course not. But it would give a far better starting point for making the argument for it - and give everyone a far broader education to boot.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I agree with you. However I think that more "Europe-orientated" things could be taught, without falling in a copy of the national "brainwashing" in education. It isn't only that children must be familiar with other European countries and their historical links with their own. I think that European construction and the EU's structures should play a much larger part in history classes than they do now. It's no wonder people don't understand the way the EU Parliament works, they've never been told about it. I think that, considering the importance the EU institutions have, we should explain them to children, if not in as much detail, at least in a similar way to the way we explain our national institutions.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Short answer - yes. Timelines in history is good, putting a European spin on history is good too. But unless my maths degree is a figment of my imagination education isn't just about history (or historical literature). Emphasising the Europeanness of Einstein, Bohr, Darwin, Hawking, Faraday, Adam Smith, Mozart, Monet, Pasteur, Benz, Marx etc etc would help to show how Europeans have been hugely influential in all of the sciences, arts, commerce, politics etc. Only dificulty here is that you would have to stop referring to Darwin as British, he was European. That is going to bug the right wing.

    Certainly civics should be taught in such a way that the roles and interactions of the national and supranational entities is clear.

    News and current affairs distributors should also be encouraged to replace the "national" and "international" news sections with "European" and "international".
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I agree with you. Of course all elements of education should be turned towards a European perspective. However I focused on history and literature because that's where governments can act directly, through changing the books etc. In other areas, a lot more depends on the way the teacher thinks and teaches, and that's harder to change.
    I'm not sure we can abolish the "national" scale altogether. But the European section should be separated from the international section (that is already the case in many French newspapers, at least). And I agree that Europe should be presented as home and not as "far-away Brussels", but that's a little OT ;-)
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    As GaryLondon pointed out in the main thread, learning foreign languages is an important part of building a European identity. Learning languages allows the European youth to socialize and make strong experiences. Therefor to my mind, the aim that everybody should learn two foreign languages is the most important step in Europeanizing Education.
    As Nehru has realized for India, it is important to be able to communicate, but also you cannot build a feeling of belonging by forcing the majority language onto everybody (not even if it were two official languages). English has de facto become a lingua franca for many occasions, but if you live for example on the Czech-German border it seems obvious to me that you should try and learn the language of your next neighbors. Also, the language doctrine should leave a choice to the learners themselves. This is more motivating and at least as practical (after all, you yourself know best where you want to travel and maybe live one day).
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    without to ideologize people and student
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I think that it'd be important, anyways, learning at least two language, english and francais at all (or italian or spanish - latin language it's very important for the thought's development).
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Akapi,

    I think that your "nearest neighbour plus free choice" plan wouldn't help. The German living on the German-Czech border would learn German (native), Czech (nearest neighbour) and Italian (maybe). A Frenchman living on the French-Spanish border would learn French (native), Spanish (nearest neighbour) and Dutch (maybe). When these two people met they would not be able to communicate even though they are fluent in 6 European languages between them. There has to be at least 1 language that is taught to all Europeans. The problem that most Europeans have with this is that the obvious choice for this common language would be English (as you say it is the de facto common language). If we come out and say that English is the only language being taught to all Europeans then there is pressure on the other European languages and most Europeans identify themselves not with their ancient history but with their language. There is a bitter pill that needs to be swallowed here and Europe is in denial about it.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Language is a problem only in the burocratic institutions of Brussels...

    The atempt to uniformize everything between different EU countries is a big mistake. And will never be consensual.
    In Portugal, besides portuguese, students have to learn english since primary school. In preparatory school till secondary school they have to choose an addicional language to learn (german, french or spanish). Since our education system is one of the worse in EU, I bet that in other countries the learning of languages is far better organized.

    Now. Why to have a common language? Does that make any sense? Although we often speak of a common european culture/civilization, our countries are very much different, and language takes a major part in this. Does a european common project means that we have to sacrifice the roots of our individual identity? That's a mistake. But of course, every country should make an effort to have foreign languages in the curricula - everyone has already...

    Common european education? Why not. As long as it doesn't interfere with our own teaching culture. Diversity is our richness. Learn Shakespeare? No problem. European history? We already have...

    Let me tease you: will english students, in a common european education system, learn portuguese history and literature...? Or slovenian, or finnish, or bulgarian...? :-)
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    "Let me tease you: will english students, in a common european education system, learn portuguese history and literature...? Or slovenian, or finnish, or bulgarian...? :-) "

    jm,

    I don't know how it works in Portugal but in the UK children learn what they are told they will learn :-) If the British government decided that UK schools would stop teaching French and German languages and stop teaching Russian history but would teach Portuguese language and history instead then that is what would happen.

    We (that is you and me) decide what our governments teach. We decide whether they put national cultural identity ahead of European cultural identity. We live in democracies. We are completely responsible for the policies, actions and inaction of our governments.

    Which elements of Portuguese culture do you think cannot be taught in English?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    mr London,

    fortunately in Portugal children also learn what they are told to :-)
    Now, is it achievable what you're saying? In a EU of 25 (and counting...) what would be the contents of a common curricula of european history/literature/etc, for example? Would it be right to make those kind of decisions ("now we will teach italian instead of greek")...?

    In USA, their different states share a common history, culture, language, etc. They are a nation. Europe is not a nation. EU is a political/economic union, but it's not a nation, or what so ever. And I don't see the point of becoming one.

    Again, learning the basics of the main points of european history (like someone said the great plagues, the renaissance, the french revolution, the industrial revolution...), that's ok of course. But that already happens (at least in Portugal :-)

    Another thing is the common system of education. At University level you have the Bolonha system (common criteria of evaluation, credits, free flow of students and professors...). So what are we discussing here anyway?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    My argument goes like this:

    1) Communication is key to a feeling of solidarity.
    2) Communication requires language.
    3) Language choice cannot be left to the individual.
    4) Therefore a common language needs to be taught.
    5) Once a common language is taught other languages will become obsolete.

    Because no country wants 5) to happen then solidarity will not be part of the European story.

    (The US is a nation because of wars and land purchases and a desire to be a nation. I'm not sure how much your average citizen in Hawaii has in common with your average Alaskan, or Texan, or Puerto Rican, other than wanting to be citizens of the same nation).
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Dear mr London,

    what your saying would make sense if:

    1) There weren't 25 different countries in EU, with different culture, history, and life style.
    2) " " at least 23 different spoken languages in those countries.
    3) Language was just a way of communication.
    4) A problem of communication existed in EU.
    5) Public Opinion connected solidarity with common language.

    I don't think it's correct to relate solidarity to language. If that was the case, probably Portugal and Spain hadn't join UE in 1982...

    If there's a value I think it's well enraized in european's mind, besides freedom, is solidarity. A pragmatic demonstration of that value are the structural and cohesion funds. Probably you will say that's not enough, but what would be of countries such Portugal, Spain, Greece without the european funds. I don't even dare to think about it!

    Your making language a big deal, and like I said before, it's not. All of us have a sense of europeancitizenship. And it's not for our different languages (although many have the same origin - latin).

    I never been to those regions of USA, but I can guess what a citizen in Hawaii thinks about his nation. Take a look to the portuguese islands of Madeira and Azores, or Canarias of Spain. Azores is right in the middle of Atlantic Ocean, far far away from Portugal. A completly different climate, life style, arquitecture, and even the local accent is difficult to understand. But you will find no other place in Portugal where portuguese culture is so enraized.

    Aren't your arguments also directing to a desire of making EU a nation...?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    A better example: the island of Réunion (next to Madagascar, Africa) and a province of France.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    "There weren't 25 different countries in EU, with different culture, history, and life style."

    jm,

    In the topic regarding Turkish accession those against the accession say Turkey can't join because the existing 25 country have a common culture, history and life style that Turkey doesn't share. Have a quick read of araceli's points.

    So we can't have it both ways. Either there is a common culture or there isn't. We can't say that there is a common culture so we can keep Turkey out and say that there is no common culture so we can continue to protect our national identities.

    I am in favour of a "United States of Europe" but that isn't what this is about. Solidarity is about speaking with one voice. That requires that our children are educated with common core values. A determination of common core values requires communication. Communication requires a common language.

    "3) Language was just a way of communication."
    In this discussion I'm not interested in those people that want to read Tolstoy in Russian or Sartre in French. I am only interested in the free exchange of information and ideas. For me that is communication.

    "4) A problem of communication existed in EU."
    In one of these topics someone said that English is spoken by 51% of Europeans. I imagine that this is the largest proportion of any European language. That sounds like a problem to me. How can we have free movement of people when language is an obstacle?

    We can come up with a number of scattered islands that feel connected to their imperial "owner". The Falklands (Malvinas) are a good British example. Most of the other "good" British examples have managed to get their independence. I doubt that residents in Hong Kong feel particularly British anymore.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Dear mr London,

    it's a fact: all the 25 have different cultures, history, etc. We cannot deny that (I'm for Turkish acession, so I'm being coherent). I understand your arguments, because you're a federalist. I'm not, I don't want a homogeneous Europe. I want a Europe with different points of view, and positions.
    And it's obvious why: I'm from a small country. A federalist europe would be ruled by 2 or 3 countries (directory). No secret about it.

    Now, at a political level, specially foreign relations and defence, of course we should all (try to) speak in one voice. But that's a question of correctly organizing the EU institutions (Commission, Parliament, etc). The Constitution Treaty was an atempt, but I fear it's dead...

    I will continue with this position: solidarity does not need a common language. Because solidarity already exists in EU, many times desorganized, for sure, but still. Give us a practical example of lack of solidarity.

    Problem of communication. Here I have to say that european governments don't know how to handle migration flows. And one of the reasons is precisely that sense that we have to homogenize everyone. True mistake.

    For an english citizen (I presume) you are strangely in favor of State intervention. Why to impose common educational programmes? In Portugal we're having a debate for more autonomous schools and Universities, like UK. Again, diversity brings more quality.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    The UK has a "national curriculum" for schools, so they do have a common education programme. So if Portugal is trying to emulate the UK here then you are heading in the wrong direction. Its 10 years since a UK government thought that the unconstrained market was a good thing. The UK is a mixed economy so it recognises that both the constrained market and the state have a role to play.

    Earlier I admitted my ignorance of Portuguese history, it appears that UK politics isn't taught too well in Portugal :-) So I think that we have proven that education in our countries desperately needs to be "Europeanised".

    I don't want a homogeneous Europe. I just want a common language. I am happy for there to be a diversity of religion (I am atheist). I am happy for there to be a diversity of political viewpoint (I am a member of the Labour Party). I am happy for a diversity of race (I am caucasian). I am happy for a diversity of cuisines (I am vegetarian). As you can imagine, I could go on.

    I'm not sure that diversity brings quality. I doubt that most Total Quality Management experts would agree with that. Quality is normally achieved by following narrowly defined Best Practice (i.e. everyone doing it the same way, learning from their mistakes, and then updating the Best Practice).
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Dear mr London,

    my english has betrayed me. I wanted to say "in favor of too much state intervention". Has you can imagine, despite not knowing anything relevant about Portugal :-) we have too much state intervention in our country. I'm not defending total liberal market (which would be quite surreal...). Please don't take arguments to extrems, of course we also have national curricula, and no one wants to change that... but a common european curricula? I insert the diversity theme here.
    I still can't understand the difference between the current system, where we have the teaching of english, french, etc, as required subjects, and the teaching of a "common language", as you propose.

    Now a few data we should recall: mandarin (China) is spoken by 23,6 % of world population, english 11,3%, hindi (India) 8,2%, spanish
    6,9%, russian 4,7%, arabic 4,1%. Then we have bengali (Bangladesh), portuguese (over 200 million speakers), indonesian, french, japonese, and finally german.

    In Europe we have a different order: Russian (119 million),German (97 million), Italian (61 million), French (60 million), and then english (58 million).

    So, in EU english is 4th most spoken language... commom language? Well, we all have to learn how to speak german or italian. For me is really quite ok, since I'm going to work in Germany next year... :-)

    In this forum I don't see much diversity... I'm also atheist, member of socialist party (=labour party), caucasian, but not vegetarian :-)

    Again: where or when did we had lack of solidarity between europeans?

    [we shouldn't mix total quality management filosofy with this. As business management student, I know a few things about it...]
    [if you want to confirm the numbers: article of Oporto University, Literature College (http://ler.letras.up.pt/uploads/ficheiros/artigo8211.pdf) and EU webpage (http://europa.eu/languages/en/document/59#4)]
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    "In this forum I don't see much diversity... I'm also atheist, member of socialist party (=labour party), caucasian, but not vegetarian :-) ". We seem to have diverse views on a number of things. It must be the meat that is clouding your judgement :-)

    "In Europe we have a different order: Russian (119 million),German (97 million), Italian (61 million), French (60 million), and then english (58 million).

    So, in EU english is 4th most spoken language... commom language? " You are confusing native speakers with speakers. From your source (http://europa.eu/languages/en/document/59#4) we have:
    "Of the EU languages, English is the most widely known as either the first or second language in the EU: but recent surveys show that still fewer than half the EU population have any usable knowledge of it."

    "I still can't understand the difference between the current system, where we have the teaching of english, french, etc, as required subjects, and the teaching of a "common language", as you propose. "
    The example I gave Akapi earlier on this topic was:
    "The German living on the German-Czech border would learn German (native), Czech (nearest neighbour) and Italian (maybe). A Frenchman living on the French-Spanish border would learn French (native), Spanish (nearest neighbour) and Dutch (maybe). When these two people met they would not be able to communicate even though they are fluent in 6 European languages between them."

    "where or when did we had lack of solidarity between europeans?" Kosovo, Iraq, Afganistan, the Constitution, every budget negotiation every year, the Euro
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Don't agree with the statement that in Kosovo, Iraq and Afganistan we had lack of solidarity. In Kosovo EU didn't had an army that could secure the region (like always, we had to call our friends americans). In Afganistan and Iraq, besides the question of defense power, the political decison of invading Iraq was wrong, and quite frankly, thank god there was no solidarity!!
    Budget negotiation? Oh, you're talking of the lack of solidarity of UK, still receiveing "the british check", negotiated by Tatcher, for sure. Or the millions that France receives for agriculture... Constituition? Well, it failed referendum in 3 countries, if I'm not mistaken. Just 3. The Euro? The best thing europe invented since EFTA. And I'm portuguese, we're having problems meetind demands. But still.

    I think one of main problems in Europe is the childish dispute between UK, France and Germany, to try to control all the EU decisions. Now we are already discussing a common language (english...), a common curricula (learning about Shakespeare, Charles Magne, or Bismarck, perhaps...) and solidarity to all the "just" political decisions of UK Government... please... until big countries don't trie to have a more sistemic outlook, we will not have a real europe.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    Let me clear one thing up. I am not a nationalist. If the EU wanted to pick Italian as its common language then that is fine by me, just somebody please pick one. Any one.

    "the political decison of invading Iraq was wrong, and quite frankly, thank god there was no solidarity!! ", it would have been better if the member states of the EU had shown solidarity which each other, regardless of whether the agreed decision had be been to go to war or not.

    " you're talking of the lack of solidarity of UK, still receiveing "the british check", negotiated by Tatcher, for sure. Or the millions that France receives for agriculture", thank you they are 2 good examples of lack of solidarity.

    "Constituition? Well, it failed referendum in 3 countries, if I'm not mistaken. Just 3", a lack of solidarity is demonstrated if 1, just 1, doesn't go along with it.

    In all three examples above the EU appears to be a collection of nationalistic entities that do nothing other than bicker with each other rather than work together in a spirit of cooperation. Nationalism is the problem. Nationalism will continue to be the problem unless we get EU citizens to identify more with Europe and less with the sub-division of Europe they were born in. As I said earlier, its too late to do that with the adult populations, but we can do it by educating our children that Vasco da Gama, for example, was a great European.

    BTW are you familiar with Anglo-Portuguese Allianace of 1373 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Portuguese_Alliance)?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    LOL, the world's oldest alliance is in peril here...

    Again, as portuguese, citizen of a small EU country, the only thing I wish is that big countries start to think about WHOLE europe. Only then you'll have more solidarity, more cooperation. You don't need a common language or common educational curricula to meet that.
    Do you think that small EU countries feel they have a influential voice in Europe...? Only in prompt situations. The enlargement brings these problems to the table. You cannot have a 25 country union, with 3 countries wanting to rule it...

    New Constitutional Treaty - a priority. That's a conclusion I take from this forum.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    In the interests of not endangering the world's oldest alliance any more I suggest we agree to disagree regarding common language and curriculum. Let's give someone else a chance.

    New Consitutional Treaty - possibly a good idea, how do you propose that the "small" countries feel included but the "large" countries don't feel under-represented? For me the first thing you have to do is to ensure that all populations know what the EU does, what it costs (them), how they benefit from the development of other regions, etc which requires them to be educated in the EU's functions and institutions in an unbiased way. This would require that every country taught all its children.

    BTW UK GDP is 10 times Portugal, UK population is 7 times Portugal. According to the Europa website:
    "The number of votes allocated to a Member State is determined by the size of its population, with an adjustment that leads to relative over-representation of the countries with small populations". How do think UK and Portugal votes should be allocated?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The clash between the interests of big countries, and the interests of small countries is a true challenge. As part of the little guys, my position is obvious :-) but the countries that benefit from the proporcional allocation you mencioned are the scandinavian ones - Sweden, Finland, Denmark have less people than Portugal. Countries with great GDP per capita...

    Constitutional Treaty: the ball is on UK' side. It's your country that will decide this. The problem is that a referedum in UK would probably fail, that is, NO would win. I'm not sure what's the position of Labour Party for this matter, but the war on Iraq didn't help 2 years ago, I concede that. So I don't see any other solution than a new treaty, smaller, less complicated to understand by euroceptics.

    Fortunately, here we already teach the basics of european instituitions, and EU in general, to the children. I don't want to return to the curricula issue, for the sake of our good alliance ;-)
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    Certainly the UK government was glad that the French rejected the Constitution because it meant that we didn't have to have a referendum and didn't look like we were the awkward one (again). With the Prime Minister due to change in the next few months its difficult to know for sure what policy on a Constitution would be, it may well be less positive (more negative).

    We also teach "citizenship", which has an EU component, between the ages of 11-16. I wonder how similar what you teach and what we teach is? The technicalities will be the same but I wonder if the "spin" is the same.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Dear mr London,

    something I can guarantee you: we only tell great things about EU to our children :-) I'm sure there's lots of sociological studies about those issues. Here's an interesting link to a summary of a study about social atitudes of portuguese people (2001, from the Social Sciences Institute/Lisbon University and ISCTE, which is my University). The result on Europeanism is not good (for everyone...):

    Quadro nº 10
    Identification with Europe (%)

    Portuguese people:
    Europeanists
    1990 - 15%
    1999 - 11%
    Non Europeanists
    1990 - 85%
    1999 - 89%

    Rest Europe:
    Europeanists
    1990 - 17%
    1999- 15%
    Non Europeanists
    1990 - 83%
    1999 - 85%

    Strange result indeed (or not)... but there's more.

    The Institutional Trust of Portuguese people in UE (1999): 56%. Rest of Europe (1999): 45%
    The Institucional Trust of Portuguese people in United Nations (1999): 59%. Rest of Europe (1999): 49%

    The summary has more data, in portuguese.

    http://www.ics.ul.pt/asp/boletins/pdf/boletim4.pdf
    http://www.ics.ul.pt/
    http://www.ibs.iscte.org/
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Oh dear, that's really a depressing trend... I guess it mainly shows that solidarity is declining. But this is not only true for cross-border solidarity: for example I have read a German survey recently that a growing number of Germans thinks only those who have paid into the social system beforehand should benefit from the basic assistance. The reason for de-solidarisation is probably that everybody begins to understand that the trend of rich countries and all their inhabitants becoming ever more well-off will not continue automatically. Their are too many fears around for solidarity. Of course it is just that solidarity that would be necessary in order to avoid that we common European men and women become victims of globalisation.
    On big and small countries: I hope that some day it will be not (very) important any more from which country one politician comes but which projects he/she stands for. Than we will be able to have real European parliamentarism. For now, this is not possible because when voters think along ethnic or religious divides (like in Lebanon for example), parliamentarism cannot work: majorities would never change from one voting period to the next.
    On solidarity and communication: I agree there is a link between them. If you communicate with someone you get to know each other, you begin to trust each other and you may end up feeling solidarity. But communication and language are not the same thing. Communication mainly requires being interested in what bothers the other - if the interest is there, you can always find an interpreter. What Europe lacks (among other things), is a popular platform (like TV) to transmit trans-European discussions. Therefor I was delighted when I discovered the website eurotopics.net, as it allows anyone who understands German, French or English to read excerpts of articles from all over the EU.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    If you allow me to slip back to the language topic, I would like to quote what Peter Ehrström wrote in a Swedish language newspaper from Finland: "'Broken English' may be the world's leading language, but this isn't enough." (read more on http://www.eurotopics.net/en/presseschau/archiv/article/ARTICLE14781).
    Choosing English (or any other existing language) as official EU language would mean that its native speakers could not be bothered to learn anything else anymore. But learning a foreign language in a way helps you to understand even foreigners who will speak to you in your own language, because you become aware of the different concepts that can be embedded in language structures and of the difficulties he/she faces. And it is also a matter of respect.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Akapi,

    So we should learn foreign languages because:
    a) it helps to understand the psyche of foreigners
    b) it is respectful

    I would agree with you 100% iff:
    a) there were only 3 or 4 languages in the world
    OR
    b) I was immortal

    Unfortunately neither is true.

    There are more than 20, that is 20+, a full 20+ languages in the EU. Given that the Russian degree I am currently during (part-time) lasts 3 years (full-time) it would be reasonable to expect it to take 60 years to learn more than 20 languages, so that I am respectful to and understanding of all Europeans. If I was going to live for an infinite time that wouldn't matter. In fact I would happily learn another 100 or so languages then I could show respect to people outside of Europe too. After all spending 1000 years out of an infinite lifetime learning languages is nothing.

    If there were only 3 or 4 languages then I would happily learn them all as there would be at least a 25% chance that I could use each of them to speak to anyone I met.

    If you are not suggesting that I learn all 20+ languages then which groups do you suggest that I should be disrespectful to?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    What I call disrespectful is that almost two thirds of Irish and British don't speak any foreign language. You don't have to learn all languages, but you should accept that all are worth learning. If for your life perspective Russian seems the most useful, that's fine. If I will have a child one day, I surely will want him or her to learn English - but there may be even more important languages to learn first: the language of the residence country, the language of parents and grandparents... For most children, it is perfectly feasible to grow up with two languages, but even for the most talented there is a limit of how much they can take up at the some time.
    By the way, here is a link to some statistical data about language learning in the EU27:
    http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=STAT/07/25&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Akapi,

    Yes I thought you were making an anti-British dig. That isn't too respectful, neither does it show much solidarity.

    You also seem to have not answered the simple question I asked you:

    "If you are not suggesting that I learn all 20+ languages then which groups do you suggest that I should be disrespectful to?"

    I am happy to translate the question into any language you choose.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Interesting article from Eurotopics, stated by mr Akapi:

    «Finland - Hufvudstadsbladet | Friday, April 28, 2006
    Promoting languages as a political instrument
    Finland promotes the Finnish culture and language in Sweden. Now Sweden is focusing more on promoting the Swedish language in Finland. This is essentially a logical process of reciprocity, says Björn Mansson, but he points out that many Finns preceive this as a case of the Swedes meddling in domestic affairs because Swedish is already the second national language in Finland. "Apparently, this is still an awkward issue almost two hundred years after Finland freed itself from the embrace of Mother Svea. Of course, particularly those who advocate monocultural states according to the principle 'one country, one people, one language' are making a fuss. They see Sweden's initiative as pure cultural imperialism... Finland is a bilingual country and we don't need help from Sweden to open new Swedish schools in Finland."»

    Mr. London:

    as you can see, language is not just a question of communication, as you try to argument.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    I understand. The opinion of a Finn that agrees with you is correct. My view, that is different from yours, is incorrect. Diversity rules.

    Can you answer the question I asked above?

    The Finn quoted above is a Finnish nationalist. As I've already stated I am not a nationalist. I guess other nationalists would agree with the Finn.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    Came across this great article I think you will like (http://www.antimoon.com/forum/t2010-0.htm), the heading is "Portuguese + Spanish the fastest growing western languages" and it contains excellent statements like "Portuguese is more important than French today and Portuguese will be more important than French in the future. Demographcs are demographics. There is nothing you can do about that. "

    Of course this is due to historic Portuguese imperialism but we can't help our imperialist pasts can we.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm, Akapi et al,

    "An international organization must have effective ways to overcome language barriers to avoid becoming a Tower of Babel. Since almost every country in the world is represented at the United Nations, it is not an exaggeration to say that the United Nation is a microcosm of the world. The Organization uses six official languages in its intergovernmental meetings and documents, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish; the Secretariat uses two working languages, English and French." (http://www.un.org/depts/DGACM/faq_languages.htm)

    "The United Nations recently asked all 185 member countries to confirm in which official UN languages they would prefer to receive correspondence. 130 opted for English, 36 chose French and 19 Spanish."
    (http://www.geneva.ch/Lang.htm)
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Mr London:

    your are confirming my position (which I'm defending since the begining): language is only important to burocratic instituitions. UN is a good example, definitely...

    Without having a official common language, everyone gets along in europe. I don't put the language issue in terms of respect and disrespect. The only reason we are having this discussion it's because language is the true fingerprint of a country, particularly in europe. The finnish guy is not a nationalist. It's someone that defends an identity (between the swedish and russian ocupation, they have a lot to take on...). If you can't understand that... like I told you before, I'm also not a nationalist (wikipedia: "ideology [1] that holds that a nation is the fundamental unit for human social life, and takes precedence over any other social and political principles"), but I have to defend what I think is a factor of cohesion of my nation.

    BUT, I understand your position, since you're english. The problems you get don't have anything to do with language. If Scotland gains independence they will continue to speak english, even in your neighbors Ireland the problem is religious, nothing to do with national identity. Even if George W Bush decides to invade your island you would still continue to speak english.

    Now, you have to understand if you come to another european country and start talking about common official languages... you will be in trouble! :-)

    About Portuguese crescent influence: it's life and history. We are proud of having discovered Brasil, most of Africa and the sea passage to India and west indies. We were the founding fathers of globalization. We cannot escape our colonial/imperial pasts, and that is why our language is widely spoken. But fortunately Portugal has already made truce with history.
    Now... isn't England that has problems with a country named Zimbabwe... ;-)

    [good for you, mr London, trying to learn something about portuguese language and history, eheheh]
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    Portugal "discovered" Brazil! No native population there then.

    I have no problem providing information which you can use to support your argument. I was too busy doing science and Maths degrees to learn Portuguese history/language in the past but it has been interesting doing some research.

    For me language is about communication, absolutely nothing else. For me it has absolutely no other value. That is MY opinion. NO-ONE can tell me what my opinion is or should be, they can only tell me that they have a different opinion. I have now tried to drop the language argument twice. Third time lucky. I am not going to change your view. You are not going to change mine. I suggest we find something more interesting to discuss.

    You don't like common curriculum. Would that apply to European history too? If there was a common European history curriculum then I would have known more about Portuguese history before we started this debate :-)
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Nothing against european history, or literature, or whatever. But I don't want european history as told by EU burocratic instituitions (it would always be limitative). I think we can decide what is good for our children by our own, as we do right now. In different schools/countries it's good to have variations, different perspectives of history. Diversity, diversity, diversity... Long ago in this debate I realized I wouldn't be successful trying to change your opinion :-)

    About Portugal discovering Brasil (in portuguese we write with a "s"): I don't know that much of anthropology or history to dicuss the "technicalities" of that question. For the whole world in the XIV century it was a discovery...
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    The sort of thing I have in mind regarding common European history might be say ancient history. In the UK we teach kids about "Romans in Britain" but not much about what the Romans did in Europe, the Middle East (except for the Christianity aspect) or North Africa. I also don't remember much being taught about Greeks or Egyptians (or Gauls, Moors, Spartans, Etruscans, Assyrians, etc). We got a bit about Normans, Angles, Saxons for obvious reasons, but not much about how that related to anything else going on in Europe at the time. This may be something to do with the British education system which, as I understand it, goes for a "narrow and deep" approach rather than the European "broad and shallow" approach. A loose common European history curriculum might say that all European children need to have been taught about the Romans impact on their region and on the indigenous tribes of each of the EU member states by the age of 11. Do you think that would be too interventionist? It would allow plenty of scope for different perspectives.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    mr London, here's the History curriculum in Portugal:

    - 1st Cycle (1-4 grade): the basics, our kings, our heroes, the battles for independence, our presidents. A national panorama.

    - 2nd Cycle (5-6 grade): the Iberian Peninsula and Portugal.

    * the importance of the geographic position, the first communities, the first people to come here, the recolector activities, the begining of farming and herding.
    * the arrival of Fenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians, in search for resources.
    * the Roman Conquest of the Peninsula, and the resistance by the natives. Limited study of Roman civilization (buildings, roads, latin language, and christianity).
    * simple approach to the christian era.
    * the muslim occupation. Muslins vs Cristians. The Reconquista. The Muslim Heritage (cultural/historical).
    * Portuguese History from D. Afonso Henriques (1st King of Portugal) and the struggle for independence, to contemporary history (passing trough the battles with Muslims and Spain, the Maritime Discoverys, Portuguese Empire/colonies and economy, The Restauration (1640), the consequences of the 1755 earthquake and the rebuilding of Lisbon, the Napoleonic Invasion - the Peninsular Wars, Liberal Revolution of 1820, independence of Brasil, the XX century - the Republic, Salazar, colonial war, April's 1974 Democratic Revolution).

    http://www.dgidc.min-edu.pt/curriculo/Programas/programas2ciclo/Hist_Geo_2ºCiclo.pdf

    3rd Cycle (7-9 grade): Portugal in the European and World context.

    * from recolector societies to the first civilizations (paleolithic, neolithic, the great rivers, Sumeria, Egypt, Indu Valley, Yellow River, Hebrew and Fenician civilization) .
    * heritage from ancient Mediterranean (Greeks in V century AC - Athens, Democracy, religion and culture; Roman world and civilization, origin and spreading of christianity).
    * formation of islamic expansion and of western christianity (Europe from VI to IX century, european society from IX to XII century, christians and muslims in the Iberian Peninsula) - germanic people, middle age, catholic church, monarchies, islamic civilization and empire, medieval society).
    * Portugal in the european context from the XII to XIV century (economic development, social relationships and political power - universities, religious orders, roman/gothic; Lisbon and european circuits of commerce, culture, art and religion, Crisis and the XIV century Revolution).
    * Expansion and Change in the XV and XVI centuries (european expansionism, the maritime discoveries, Renaissance and the Reform).
    * XVII and XVIII centuries (portuguese empire, European Iluminism and Culture).
    * The beginning of Industrial Revolution and the triumph of Liberal Revolutions.
    * Industrial Civilization in the XIX century
    * Europe and World entering the XX century (hegemony and decline of european influence, society and culture in a world of change, I world war).
    * From the Great Depression to 2nd World War (capitalism crisis in the 30's, ditactorial regimes in Europe, II world war).
    * From 2nd Post-war to contemporary challenges (world after war, transformations in contemporary world, American and USSR power, Japanese miracle, European Community, 3rd World Countries, new internacional relatonships north/south, Portugal - dictatorial regime/democracy)

    http://www.dgidc.min-edu.pt/curriculo/Programas/programas3ciclo/Historia_3ºCiclo.pdf


    Then you have the Secondary school (10-12 grade), where all these themes are treated in a more advanced level.

    http://www.dgidc.min-edu.pt/programs/prog_hom/historia_a_10_11_12_cg_homol_nova_ver.pdf
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    I only studied history until I was 16 but I can't remember covering any where near the amount of material that you describe. I know that doesn't surprise you :-)

    I have been struggling to "Europeanise" the syllabus you describe and unfortunately, as it already seems to be quite "Europeanised", I think that the best I can you is to ask you how you would feel if :

    * XVII and XVIII centuries (portuguese empire, European Iluminism and Culture).

    was changed so that it said "European empires" instead of "portuguese empire"?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The answer is easy. We also have a overall perspective of the spanish, english, and even dutch empire, to understand the relationships between them and the portuguese empire (actually that is something I remember from my days quite clearly).

    In the programme it's also stated that each teacher can choose a civilization to give a more deep approach. So, in different schools (or even in the same school) you will have different curriculum, or at least, different ways of teaching it. Probably it's the same everywhere in europe.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    It seems that you are saying that the Portuguese education system can not be more "Europeanised". I must admit that I'm tempted to agree. As I've said the British education system is much narrower than the Portuguese. In the above araceli suggests that the French system may not be as "Europeanised" as the Portuguese either.

    So I guess that if the answer to the original question in this strand, "Should we 'Europeanise' education?", is "yes" then then the answer to the supplemental questions:

    "How should teachers and schools tell the 'European story'? How should citizenship classes be taught and how should they approach 'Europe'? What kinds of approaches currently exist in EU member states and what scope is there for lesson learning? Is there currently enough public appetite to 'Europeanise' education?"

    would be "go to Portugal and see what they do there".
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Dear mr London,

    I don't have the pretension of saying that our education is perfect. You can read the OCDE reports about Portugal' s education system and take the opposite conclusion! Actually, one of the main problem for our underdevelopment is human resources qualifications... Mathematics is our problem...

    Now, about history subject, quite frankly, and as you can see, I think the curriculum is balanced. To make the correct evaluation we have to know how's the situation in the other countries (27...). My hint is that things are not as bad as you think, probably with the exception of big countries... :-)
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    No I'm sure that the Portuguese education system isn't perfect but it's history syllabus certainly seems to be quite appropriately "Europeanised".

    Britain also has some teacher shortages, again particularly in Maths and science. The advantage that the UK has is that it can import teachers from around the world who speak English :-)

    You may be right about things not being as bad a I think. The trouble with education systems is that most people only ever experience one, and they are children at the time. A comparison of the individual member states approaches would be a good start, after all it is the way that we made progress in this debate. The tricky step is once the British (for example) have realised that their syllabus is too narrow how do we get them to make it more broad? Each member state would have to go into the process willing to be criticised and willing to implement any recommended changes. This also means that they would be willing to sell those changes to their populations.

    FYI, UK education is increasingly criticised for being too narrow. The UK education system isn't really designed to educate the general population but is really there to ensure that the universities can identify who is suitable for their degrees.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Concerning the project of a European history textbook, there was an interesting excerpt from the Slovakian paper "Pravda" on eurotopics yesterday ( http://www.eurotopics.net/en/presseschau/archiv/article/ARTICLE14880 ). The journalist, Marius Kopcsay is sceptical however, as Slovakia and Hungary are still unsucessful with a similar project: "Each nation has its own view of history, which in part may differ radically from that of others. In Hungary, the Treaty of Trianon (by which Hungary lost most of its territory) is interpreted as a decision that unjustly split up a prospering nation. In Slovakia, on the other hand, the focus is on the country's thousand years of servitude to Hungary, as if the Slovaks had failed to produce anything of value during all this time... At least today these things can be discussed, one can try to understand the other side and admit that there can be different interpretations of historical events... It would be a step forwards if we simply used this insight to improve the textbooks of the different countries."
    The example of the French-German history book which was published last year after years of discussion shows that it takes a lot of time and talking to implement such a project even on a binational level. However, the fact that historians discuss their different views with each other is already a good thing.
    What I liked about the history lessons I had in school (17-8 years ago in Germany) was that we discussed many original documents from the 19th & 20th century. Some of these (for example caricatures from French and German papers) would also help pupils to understand how the different representations of topics construct historic reality and how politicians and media can forge nationalist feelings in order to have things their way.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    As a Native English speaker, working in a German-speaking community (in Switzerland) my hardest battle is getting my colleagues to speak anything Other than English to me. It isn't helping me to learn German. Meanwhile I can't get English students to study here because they are scared of having to really use another language. Ah the perils of a world language.

    It's great for us to have a common language (I'll vote for Italian because I love the hand-gestures) but it is crucial that we learn each others languages because we can then really strat to debate ideas and not get stuck on semantics. I remember a Spanish lawyer explaining the meaning of the word Law (derecho) in Spanish - and suddenly realising that all the debate in the world over European law, between our nations, would be in vain if we didn't understand that the same apparent word meant two quite different things to our two nations.

    So - a common language (because we need one) but, for the EU to work, we have to have the means to understand each others ideas - and that means mastering each others languages. I'd strongly favour introducing a six-month (extendable) stay for all EU school children in another country, but I guess it would be hard to organise.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    To be honest, I don't want to see the European context emphasised in schools. That smacks of propaganda to me. In just the same way I'd not want to see British context emphasised in schools. Teachers and those who set the curriculum should be free to choose which topics and case studies are most appropriate for those particular children at that particular time.

    Education, however, is a major thing that the EU has barely touched, and one of the few places where it could make a real difference. Why has the EU not ruled that a student may select the fees applicable in any one of the member states and apply it in their own state? For example, a student attending a university in England could chose to pay the same fees as an EU student studying in Germany. Cue race to the bottom and free education at all levels for everyone.