The current acceleration and growing complexity of the world that we are experiencing today pushes us to reconsider what we need to know, to do and to be, to meet our challenges.
At the European level, the emergence of populist, nationalist and anti-European parties and tendencies is just one example of the key challenges the European Union and Europeans at large are currently facing.
It is important to meet these and other challenges.
You, as teachers, can be agents of social transformation. You play an important role in helping students on their way to social participation and individual contributions to a society that is shaped by a democratic culture.
In the students’ path of life and education, you are of central importance when it comes to promoting maturity and evoking the appreciation of democratic values among the students.
From the responses to a survey conducted in advance of this handbook’s production, we do, however, know that the teaching and treatment of European topics and values in the classroom is also fraught with difficulties.
The Handbook fo Teachers therefore offers suggestions for these teaching and learning processes.
More than something that you should add to the lesson in addition to what you already have in your school curriculum, the suggestions are content and tasks that you should complete in your lessons on a day-to-day basis.
Therefore, we hope that this handbook will help you with your lesson preparation and may provide you with some good ideas for your teaching.
The handbook is specifically designed to give you as a teacher a compact knowledge of the origins, functions, policies and strategies of the European Union.
In addition, methods are included that aim, on the one hand, to enhance students’ knowledge about the EU and, on the other hand, to support an understanding of and a connection with basic European values.
This manual was developed with suggestions for learning for and through European values using student-centred pedagogies that are fit for upholding a democratic culture in classrooms and schools.
In addition, this handbook provides accompanying material with resources for teaching about the European Union and European values.
Finally, T4E also aims to pass on recommendations to policy-makers and to discuss how to ensure long-term sustainability of European values in European schools and society.
Why “European values”?
The basic idea of the T4E network is to strengthen the exchange between teachers, students and people in general from different regions of Europe. The goal perspective of internationally- and globally-thinking people is formative.
The reason for this lies in the globally-networked world, which requires competences of each individual faced with growing complexity but, at the same time, requires a foundation through a basic consensus about certain values.
Such a set of values can be found at the European level.
These values are also, to a large extent, reflected in the national contexts of the member states, such as in their constitutions, norms, mores etc.
Nonetheless, a distinction of the concept of European values is that implies a belonging to a larger community.
An example of a particular achievement in the context of European values is the value of “peace.”
Such stable peace is an achievement that has developed, especially in the second half of the last century, and ought to continue in the future. Peace and the openness of a society are inextricably linked with each other.
It is, therefore, also important in the classroom to incorporate European perspectives and to take into account that without this peace this common set of values would not be possible.
It is also important to shape this peace by promoting social cohesion. This is necessary because, despite many achievements, EU processes demonstrate some shortcomings, which ought also to be critically examined in school lessons.
As well, the political-social reality should be explored in order to enable and advance the maturity and participation of students.
Who created the Handbook for Teachers?
This handbook was created as part of the Erasmus+ KA 3 project Teachers4Europe – Setting an Agora for Democratic Culture. The general aim of the project “Teachers4Europe (T4E)” – co-ordinated by the Jean Monnet Chair on European Union’s Education, Training, Research and Innovation Policies of the University of Piraeus – is to meet the challenges mentioned above and to strengthen democratic culture in Europe. To this end, a new agora should emerge that focuses on the active participation of citizens to Europe’s future and the role of education to achieve such participation.
Specifically, T4E is aimed at teachers and pupils who, in addition to their formal knowledge of the functioning, history and formal processes of the European Union, should also develop and/or intensify an understanding of European values.
For building a common understanding of European values, you, as teachers in particular, have the ability to act as social multipliers and mediators.
As a result, you and your students may contribute to shaping the future co-existence in the EU through democratic values and attitudes as well as cross-border exchange of young people.
In order to achieve the project objectives and to promote this exchange, the project consortium wants to expand and further develop a Teachers4Europe network that already exists in Greece, since 2011 at the European level.
This international network represents the space in which the Ambassadors T4E (AT4Es) of the project and the consortium meet. Since they are responsible for further training T4Es, the AT4Es play an important role in their respective national contexts, locally or online, and organizing with them activity plans (https://teachers4europe.eu/academy/).
Teachers4Europe (T4Es) are invited to follow online training via the Teachers4Europe Academy (via, for example, webinars or a MOOC) and pilot the content locally in their schools or to their pupils.
Teachers are invited to pilot the content locally in their schools or to their pupils.
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