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Linking Research and Training in Internationalization of Teacher Education with the PEERS Program: Issues, Case Studies and Perspectives

Edited By Jean-Luc Gilles

The PEERS program proposes international exchanges adapted to the context of teacher training institutions wishing to take advantage of internationalization in order to link training, research, and practice. PEERS is based on the completion of Research and Innovation (R&I) projects during the academic year, during which international groups of professors and students from teacher training partner institutions collaborate remotely as well as during two placements of one week. For the students, the PEERS program aims to develop competencies in distance collaboration with the help of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the management of intercultural groups, and the continuous improvement of their activities through reflective thinking and the spirit of research. For the professors the PEERS program aims to better link research and training, to reinforce their skills in the management of international research projects and to foster opportunities for international publications.

The aim of this collective book is to give an overview of the Issues, case studies and perspectives of the PEERS program. The first section entitled "Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges for the Internationalization of Teacher Training in a Globalized, Multicultural, and Connected World", focuses on the foundations and general features of PEERS projects, as well as the context of globalization in the intercultural and connected world in which it is situated.

The second section, "Case Studies and Lessons Learned from the PEERS Project in Southern Countries" constitutes a series of chapters presenting case studies on PEERS projects focused on innovation and cooperation in the developing world. The third section, "Results of Research-Oriented PEERS Projects," considers the results from PEERS projects that have enabled the implementation of theoretical and practical educational research, generally taking the form of small-case research studies or innovations in the design of teaching units. Finally, in the conclusion we propose to present the key points of the three sections that make up this book "Linking Research and Training in Internationalization of Teacher Education with the PEERS Program: Issues, Case Studies and Perspectives".

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Chapter 3: Preparing Critically and Globally Conscious Teachers (Gerry O’Reilly)

Gerry O’Reilly

gerry.oreilly@dcu.ie

Dublin City University, St. Patrick’s Campus, Ireland

Chapter 3: Preparing Critically and Globally Conscious Teachers

Abstract

This chapter explores the preparation of globally conscious teachers. Concepts of training and growth through education encompassing competencies and skills are surveyed, as is critical thinking, and autonomous learning. Implicit throughout is applied work being done by PEERS teams worldwide, linked to the University of Teacher Education, State of Vaud (HEP Vaud) in Lausanne. For global consciousness, mindfulness is crucial. Individuals must be self and locally thoughtful – linking skills, concepts, peoples, places and cultures. Teacher education takes place within permeable historical and geographical parameters, but especially political economic processes linked to top-down and bottom-up interfaces. Professional responsibility is paramount to developing awareness of processes and structures, where future teachers become critical citizens and actors. Globalization and sustainability education are highlighted, while looking at examples from a teacher education institution in Ireland.

1. The Challenge: work with what you have, and try to improve it – but be critically aware of contexts

Preparing critically mindful educators is challenging with accelerated revolutions in travel, communications and media. Nonetheless, basic education canons hold similarities worldwide, albeit if different emphasis is placed, as I have witnessed by living and working in educational←57 | 58→ contexts in Europe, North America, MENA (Middle East and North Africa) and Africa (O’Reilly, 2015).

Cultural constructs concerning education have supported societies with survival and coping skills from historical and anthropological perspectives. This must be seen in contexts of location – interconnections with groups – local to regional scales and beyond; literally and metaphorically going past horizons as did Copernicus, Galileo, Columbus and Einstein. For people involved in teacher education internationally, the lexicon, discourse and canons are similar going beyond basic functional language and concepts (Aldrich, 2008; Fleer and Ridgway, 2014; Guisepi, 2015).

1.1 Scoping education landscapes

Educational cornerstones: skills based on techniques and abilities – balanced with competencies built on knowledge involves comprehension with facts, information, descriptions gained through experience, perception, discovering or learning. Knowledge can be theoretical or practical, implicit or explicit, formal or systematic. Historically Europe relied on information ranges from Greco- Roman and Judaeo-Christian traditions, and input from Islamic civilization, ranging from Plato and Socrates to Renaissance and Enlightenment thinkers, Ibn Khaldun to Wittgenstein, and post-modernists (Kontopodis & al., 2011; Quillen, 2015; Wulf, 2012). Knowledge acquisition involves cognitive processes of perception, communication and reasoning related to capacity of acknowledgement. Pursuit of knowledge is premised on quests for truth mediated through physical and human sciences, and respective methodologies; in the human condition societies have tried to give their lives a meaning mediated through arts, humanities, religions and ideologies, and ethics (Baggini and Fosl, 2007).

This involves systematizing, defining, recommending concepts and models of right and wrong, good and evil, virtue and vice, just and unjust, or criminal, and values; how should people live. Salient branches of ethics include: meta-ethics – theoretical meaning and how truth values←58 | 59→ can be determined or not; normative ethics dealing with practical means for determining moral courses of action; and applied ethics – what an individual is obliged or permitted to do. In some traditions it is believed that basic ethics are common to all humankind as in universal declarations ranging from Rights of Man to Global Citizenship, preceded historically by universalizing religious-philosophical or ideological systems such as Christianity and Islam. Other philosophers interpret ethics as being individually and culturally relative. Without some form of ethical agreement within and between societies, violence ensues (Cavalier, 2015).

Knowledge of self, society, country and worldview is passed from generation to generation. With increasing knowledge linked to globalization, educational systems in democracies are promoting active learning to produce effective citizens. Hence the challenges: teaching and learning knowledge and skills, helping people to learn how to do things and think why they are learning and doing, and how they will apply skills and competencies to create a sustainable world. Being cognoscente of (dis)empowerment, and philosophical perspectives including Paulo Freire – of self, others and society may provide stimuli for societies to strive for democratic structures and cultures facilitating change that is long-lasting ecologically, economically and socio-culturally. Empowerment through education leads to positive development (Foucault, 2015; Lyons, 2015; Freire Institute, 2017).

Regarding discourse parameters of ‘formal education’ – kindergarten to University and curricula, there is always danger that formal structure, action and power takes precedence over active teaching and learning targeting empowerment of individuals – creating ‘rounded’ teachers with critical judgment of self and others. Formal education targets the science and art of teaching – pedagogy, and must avoid stultifying ‘educification’ whereby even the simplest, is rendered more complex and ‘school-ish’ so dulling students innate discovery learning, curiosity and fantasy. Non-formal education may be acquired by structured home-education, homework clubs, summer school, community programs and so forth.

Whether educated within formal or informal systems, or combination thereof, informal education is paramount in human development. This←59 | 60→ includes learning from family and community ranging from self-hygiene to nutrition, handling ones budget –‘living within one’s means’, digital dexterity, and attitudes enhancing the dignity of work. Acquired are caring for others and environment, empathy, balanced awareness of endowment and entitlement for self and others, rights and duties, and proactive approaches to self-education i.e. ‘if you don’t know something, then look it up, ask, go there and observe, think more about it’. Autonomous learning helps counteract dangers of solipsism – believing that nothing exists or can be known to exist outside one’s own mind; and anomie – breakdown of social bonds between individuals and community, where society is perceived to provide little ethical guidance.

With solipsism, individuals may form small groups, attempting to legitimate extreme actions with spurious reference to political or religious ideologies and traditions, using literalist interpretations of narratives, sacred books and mythologies as with negative fundamentalisms concerning female education. Attempted Hollywood-ization and Californication of mass culture, promoting unbridled individualism (often synonyms for egoism, selfishness, and eccentricity) is fuelled by marketing. This is impacted on by delusional X-factors and so called reality media whereby individuals including pupils, teachers and society now have to be ‘famous’ in a populist environment or else labelled ‘losers’. Kardashian spectators throughout globalizing cultures can verify this. In the bipolar – famous versus loser worldview, if you are not a millionaire then you are poor; if you do not physically fit a ‘manufactured blueprint’ then you are ugly, obese or stupid. If you do not get X number of hits on Facebook then you are boring, as illustrated with cyber-bullying. Normalization of the abnormal poses threats which teachers must be cognizant of (Arendt, 2015).

Educators have to nurture critical thinking so as to avoid totalitarian, fundamentalist and populist standpoints which encourage nihilism and dystopias. This is not to say liberal democracies have produced perfect utopias as witnessed with 21st century emerging global cultural paradoxes promoted by neoliberal capitalism and reactions of electorates to this in mature democracies as in the Swiss Immigration Referendum (2014), UK Brexit leaving the EU (2015), and US presidential election of Donald Trump (2015).←60 | 61→

In preparing teachers, tools for criticism have to enhance student abilities: skilful judgement as to truth, merit, evidence, analysis, evaluations, actions and outcomes, and personal responsibility. Student teachers must be conscious of self – his/her own existence, self-knowledge, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, identity, physical and social environment and sources of their own educational / cultural conditioning. This involves awareness and sensitivity to others, and one’s own strengths and weaknesses, active mental faculties, knowing what one is doing, and what is deliberate or intentional as opposed to instinctive. Whatever structures, actions and cultures surrounding the teacher’s work environment, the professional has to teach, instruct and educate (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2015).

Critical thinking involves making reasoned judgments based on logic, seeking evidence to support argument or conclusion. Students who use critical thinking ask: how, why, when, what, where, who type-questions. Core skills involve: curiosity or desire to learn more, seeking evidence and new ideas; scepticism – having a positive questioning attitude about new information, not accepting everything at face value; humility or ability to admit or accept that your opinions are wrong when faced with new evidence (Britannica Encyclopaedia Philosophy, 2015).

Mindfulness is imperative: “I know that I know nothing” (Socrates), “real world knowledge is to know the extent of one’s own ignorance” (Confucius), “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” (Darwin), “the fool thinks he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool” (Shakespeare). George Bernard Shaw reminds us “beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance”, and “one of the painful things […] is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision (Bertrand Russell). Teachers are reminded daily that: “it takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance” and that of the people being taught (Thomas Sowell); “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” so “learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow” […] “the important thing is not to stop questioning” (Einstein). The teacher is has to empower children, and not to stifle future←61 | 62→ potential Socrates, Confucius, Columbus, Ibn Battuta, Mozart, Einstein, Stephen Hawkins, Bill Gates, and productive, reflective citizens, workers, teachers and parents (Education quotes, 2015).

Teachers can’t work miracles, be experts in all disciplines – but they have to work with possibilities and limits of pupil’s potential – ranging from special educational needs to intellectually gifted students. Teachers are cornerstone in education processes; parents and society are equally key actors – with responsibilities.

Increasingly teachers are ‘delegated’ by governmental and business sectors to ‘handle’ all social problems ranging from children from dysfunctional families, to poverty, obesity and malnutrition impeding child development, promoted by junk food culture based on consumer ignorance and marketing, lacking ethics regarding environment, people and culture. Concepts of Fair Trade and sustainability must not become simply aphorisms in class. Few people would challenge contentions that consumerism has become mantra.

Students and parents have an increasing sense of entitlement regarding perceived ‘education product’ with commodification, and ever-more audits, assessments, tests and media coverage, fuelled by ‘hits’ and ‘tweets’ regarding schools and teachers. If not critically evaluated, then teachers fall victim also, into the cyber-bullying category. A mismatch between student’s ability and expectations, sometimes fuelled by parents, and society sectors, can lead to student lack of engagement, dropping out, and frustration in transitions from school to further education, training and employment.

Dunning and Kruger (2015) posit that there is an effect of cognitive bias where unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, over judging their own ability to be much higher than is accurate. This metacognitive inability to recognize ineptitude can be challenging for teachers, especially when individuals refuse recommendations in how to improve. The Dunning-Kruger effect has its converse where highly skilled individuals tend to underestimate their competencies, mistakenly assuming that tasks that are easy for them are easy for others. They conclude that the mis-calibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the mis-calibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others (Dunning and Kruger, 2015).←62 | 63→

With accelerated democratization of education access since the 1970s in Europe and North America, institutions like teachers have had to face demands of students, parents, governments and international organizations such as EU, Council of Europe and UNESCO, but also commodification of ‘education products’ for real and potential ‘clients’ nurtured by neoliberal ideals. At its most basic, education becoming a set of skills to be packaged and sold in open markets with ‘skills box and yellow packs’. Schools and universities like businesses have to be self-financing, profit making in order to continue functioning in this neoliberal worldview. This would be enhanced by private sponsorship, which by its nature sets agenda for curricula, programs and delivery of ‘product’. Individual consumers rather than public funds would have to pay for their education. Of course this neoliberal ideal has been adapted to varying degrees in many countries (Ross and Gibson, 2006).

Whether we explicitly or implicitly accept or not neoliberal models of production and consumption of education, we face challenges of regulation versus deregulation, and the so called controllers, as came to the fore during the economic crash of 2007. Many education institutions are put-upon with overemphasis on pleasing the ‘consumer’. Some observers argue that this has led to grade inflation and ‘dumbing down’ content to maintain clients and gain new markets; others have been accused of ‘the great training robbery’.

PEERS partner institutions, students and teachers gain critical awareness of their own socio-cultural and political-economic environments and that of their partners and wider educational community as is implicit in PEERS case study work.

1.2 Globalization and globally conscious teachers

PEERS partners communicate, travel and work together – but what does this mean for student teachers. Globalization refers to worldwide interconnectedness between places and peoples, physically and virtually driven by economic flows, innovation and diffusion of ideas and cultures often through the medium of English. This is exemplified by flows of pop←63 | 64→ music on a myriad of devices, and big events such as Grammy Awards. Pop music’s creation location, production and diffusion worldwide offer narratives ranging from Michael Jackson to Beyoncé. TV series like Friends and Criminal Minds, or films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, and Harry Potter and Fifty Shades of Grey in book, kindle and movie forms promoted with Hollywood Oscars, Emmy and Golden Globe Awards are everywhere. Fashions, tastes, language, attitudes become ‘normalized’ whether ethical or not. News goes from national and BBC World and CNN worldviews to that of France 24, Euronews and Al Jazeera, and Facebook-spheres. Whether with music or news, messages ‘pushing frontiers outwards’ on ethics, individualism, human rights and environment are sent. Flows of sports images – scores, players’ public and private lives, heroes and villains, scandals and advertising are ‘in your face’. Students are now embedded in this whether they are cognizant or not (Britannica Encyclopaedia Globalization, 2015).

Top-down meta-structures such as the World Bank, IMF (International Monetary Fund), Davos World Economic Forum (WEF), ECB (European Central Bank) interface with the EU, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), while governments facilitate collaboration with Transnational Companies and banking sectors. Theoretically they meet the demands of citizens (Agnew, 2008). Commodification – putting price tags on everything including education is part of this. Homogenisation of consumer markets to feed, clothe, beautify, transport and educate is ‘communicated’ by McDonald, Abercrombie, L’Oreal, Toyota and Google claiming that: ‘You’re worth it’. This may foster an overdeveloped sense of entitlement for consumers and students alike.

But globalization is not truly global in equitable terms, within and between societies as with urban and rural Greece, between Greece and Germany, and the EU and countries in the Global South. A major strength of PEERS is collaboration on all continents, offering student teachers experience, knowledge and empathy as demonstrated in case studies (Murphy and Descoeudres, 2016). Interdependencies exist, at all geo-social scales – economic cores to peripheries. Students become aware that top-down governmental organization has to negotiate with←64 | 65→ bottom-up groups, NGOs and electorates, or else risk socio-political and environmental implosion as witnessed in Soviet states (1991), or conflict as seen in several African states including PEERS partner countries, and Arab Spring revolutions starting in 2010 in Tunisia, and impacting on Syria producing refugee and migrant crises in Europe.

1.3 EU input into education processes

The Council of Europe (47 states) was founded to support dialogue, peace, human rights and democracy in Europe with education a key pillar (Council of Europe, 2015). Enhancing this, EU works with EEA states Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, and EU candidate countries including Turkey, with EU objectives to: promote cooperation and stability; economic growth through open markets; develop poorer European regions; act within sustainable frameworks; and develop a security and foreign policy to be a force for stability within Europe and the world (EUROPA, Enlargement, 2017).

EU policies foster skills and competencies, curricula and programs. Policies, structures and actors, including teachers, have to be further developed by consensus between EU members in order to assure objectives. In 1987, the EU implemented its first education program – COMETT, to stimulate contacts and exchanges between universities and industries, followed by ERASMUS promoting inter-university cooperation, mobility, and youth programs in 1989. Erasmus+ (2014–20) covers education and training aiming at boosting skills, employability and modernization of education, training and youth systems with a budget of 14.7 million euros, 40 % higher than previous levels. Four million people will receive support to study, train, work or volunteer abroad, including 2 million higher education students, 650,000 vocational training students and apprentices, and 500,000 going on exchanges and volunteering abroad (EUROPA, 2015).

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is a standard for comparing student attainment across the EU and collaborating countries. The Bologna Process promotes higher education reform targeted establishing a European Higher Education Area (EHEA)←65 | 66→ reinforcing free trade and free movement of workers in Europe (Erasmus, 2015). Educational systems form cornerstones of the European Project within contexts of globalization. Preparing critically globally conscious teachers is not a choice but an imperative. International scales must reach to the local with ‘glocalization’ whereby pupils in schools, like student teachers are at home in their habitus and not lost in ‘place-less’ homogenised environments.

2. Case studies from Ireland

To illustrate what is happening in the largest teacher education institution in Ireland, Dublin City University – Saint Patrick’s Campus, data from the International Office Report 2014–15 of St. Patrick’s is used.

2.1 International mobility

Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) students studying to be primary teachers numbered 1,264, with 179 post-graduates. Some 600 Bachelor of the Arts (B.A.) students registered in the Humanities Faculty; a majority go on to post-graduate programs becoming primary or secondary (middle and high school) teachers. DCU St. Patrick’s holds the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (2014–20) with 45 Bilateral Agreements with Partner HEIs (Higher Education Institutions): 40 in Europe, 4 USA and 1 Japan. St. Patrick’s encourages internationalization at home and abroad (Nilsson, 1999).

Concerning mobility, there were 23 outgoing B.Ed. students for full academic year, and 38 for one semester only. Seven outgoing B.A. students went to Europe for full academic year and 3 to Europe for one semester. Three student teachers went to Luxembourg for training placement (TP). There were 22 (16 EU, 5 USA, 1 Japan) incoming students in Semester 1 and 47 (43 EU, 3 USA, 1 Japan) in Semester←66 | 67→ 2, and 6 incoming students from non-partner US HEIs. Collaboration with two NGO programs placed 10 volunteer students in Ethiopian and Ugandan schools. Four special modules were offered for international students and four fieldwork trips, while the GAA (national Gaelic Athletic Association) sponsored cultural events and tickets for matches.

There were 16 incoming international staff visits and three shared international modules including the Swiss-Irish PEERS Project. Ten European students did Teaching Placement in primary and secondary schools in Dublin. Staff mobility targeted an inter-university Master’s program at Angers and participation in the Comenius Association – 30 teacher education HEIs in 18 EU states (Comenius Association 2017). The NETT Meeting – Network for Education and Teacher Training in Europe was attended in Hungary (June 2015). Outward staff Mobility included: the University of Lorraine, Metz and Nancy Campuses; European School Luxembourg (May 2015); Symposium – European Group for Teacher Education HEIs in UC Leuven-Limburg, Belgium (June 2015), and HEP (Lausanne) PEERS Workshops (July 2015).

2.2 Geography and education

St. Patrick’s Geography Department prepares globally conscious teachers organizing modules around thematic years. Sustainable Development in first year is followed by Citizenship and Human Rights in second year, preceding specialisms – the professional geographer in third and fourth year (O’Reilly, 2014; De Miguel González and Donert, 2014).

Table 1. DCU-SPC Geography Department Student Numbers 2014–15.

Year

B.Ed.

B.A.

1

140

115

2

25

69

3

38

69

4

38 (2015–16)

Source : DCU-SPC Registrar’s Office.←67 | 68→

Students discover relationships between sustainability theory and practice as in fieldwork (Harper, 2004; Herrick, 2010; McManus and O’Reilly, 2016):

Student 1 re: Newgrange (megalithic necropolis – UNESCO World Heritage site):

Evaluating sustainability from an environmental perspective the positioning and design of the visitor centre indicates the measures taken to make it blend in with the landscape. Tourist numbers allowed into Newgrange are limited to preserve the site for future generations… Newgrange must be economically viable to fit into the sustainability model… From the social perspective there are notable efforts made to preserve the site for future generations while also balancing the needs of the present…

Student 2 re: Luas (light rail) Park and Ride facility, M50:

This park and ride facility is economically viable. The Luas is a regular service and fast compared to buses. It makes perfect economic sense to use this facility as it is cheaper than running your car journey in and out of the city every day. This car park is environmentally viable as it reduces the carbon footprint of the city centre, as there are fewer cars in this area. It is socially viable, as it reduces commuter stress, as they do not have to deal with the traffic; it reduces congestion in the city centre for those who do have to make the journey in…

Joint courses: (i) Dutch (HAN, University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Education, Nijmegen) and Irish (DCU-SPD) students collaborated virtually and face to face in the organization and delivery of a fieldwork module. (ii) Identity: inter-culturalism, globalization, and citizenship themes were worked by Irish (DCU-SPD) and American (University of Northern Colorado, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Greeley Campus) students. These examples involved online interaction – in the first case, students met following a preparatory period of virtual collaboration; in the second case, interaction was online only (Hurley & al., 1999). These experiences were positively received, highlighting potential for new generations of teachers to use ICT in order to share empathy across boundaries (O’Reilly and McManus, 2011, 2013; Solem & al., 2010; Ioannidou and Konstantikaki, 2008).←68 | 69→

2.3 The centrality of empathy in PEERS education

Collaboration involves pedagogy and empathetic education and discovery (or enquiry-based) learning. More than one type of intelligence exists, with social and emotional intelligence progressively valued in workplaces (Goleman, 1996; Ioannidou and Konstantikaki, 2008). Empathetic intelligence is based on a theory of relatedness which is dynamic regarding thinking and feeling; ways in which each contributes to making of meaning. It is built on person-centered situations and professional contexts. Salient skills, abilities and attitudes underpin effectiveness in contexts with enthusiasm, expertise, capacity to engage, and empathy itself. Empathy is a function of mind, brain and feeling, and its relatedness to narrative and imagination. Social usefulness of empathy and organization is crucial in developing cultures of learning essential for students and lecturers, on practice and professional relationships (Arnold, 2005). This perspective must be forefront in the digital age. Given the (emotionally) distancing effect of technology, students must develop empathetic intelligence so as to engage effectively as illustrated by PEERS collaborations where empathic learning is reinforced (Marron and Descoeudres, 2015).

All Irish students collaborating with HEP in PEERS contexts confirmed that they found their experiences highly positive. Emphasis in PEERS is for students to become involved in ‘using their skills to undertake enquiry’, ‘working together to develop … craft and enhance personal competence’ (Naish & al., 2002, p. 69). In this constructivist approach, students were not provided with exact answers, but rather skills and materials to find answers themselves. Learners were encouraged to draw on their experience and prior knowledge, calling on that of peers, in group learning scenarios. Recognizing debates concerning values of discovery learning, particularly the work of Mayer (2004), the approach taken moved beyond unassisted discovery learning to utilize what Marzano (2011) has described as ‘enhanced discovery learning’. Key elements in success of projects were the degree to which students were prepared for the learning tasks and assistance where necessary, but with a ‘light-touch approach’.←69 | 70→

3. Concluding remarks

Exploring challenges of how to prepare critically internationally mindful globally conscious educators, the kernel is how to evaluate, ‘work with what you have’ and ‘try to improve it’. Targeting equilibriums between competencies and skills is imperative, ‘learning by doing’ is crucial. That is not to imply simplistic perspectives whereby the trainer makes out the ‘to do’ list and tells the trainee: ‘go do it’. Balancing blended teaching methodologies with awareness of student multiple intelligences and empathy is vital in developing attitudes and mind-set. This implies intellectual curiosity and enjoyment, a desire to evaluate and find answers, and skills of how and where to find these; creation of tangible and intangible responses and solutions at varying levels of abstraction and product. Concepts regarding education (formal, non-formal and informal), knowledge, cognitive processes, ethics, self-awareness, empathy, have been explored.

Regarding multiple intelligences, individual abilities, issues of self and group identities, there is no ‘one size fits all’ toolbox for nurturing critical thinking. Nonetheless, creation of educational contexts, environments, ethos, dialogue, lexicons and appropriate methodologies do much to support positive attitudes to critical thinking. Key competencies and skills are the product of lived individual, social and civizational and historical experiences with many shared canons. While professional teachers form a cornerstone in educational processes, parents and society are equally responsible.

While each student teacher has experienced a unique geographical life-path and time slice i.e. places and cultures, they have to be aware of self and others, and processes that have helped shape them, in order to connect with life-paths and time slice experiences of their own students. Besides pedagogical and psycho-educational training, teachers must be aware of bigger pictures: socio-cultural and political-economic that affect them and their work from top-down government curricula and programs influenced by political, economic or religious ideologies and trends, to interlinkages with bottom-up group actors in democratic processes, and←70 | 71→ weakness or lack of such in some contexts. In understanding processes, student teachers are being educated into being active citizens with responsibility in school environments and wider scales as illustrated in the PEERS work.

Concepts of globalization impacting at local to vast scales, especially economic interfaces of top-down institutions such as UNESCO, Council of Europe and EU influence processes as with the Erasmus program. Case study material from an Irish University helps demonstrate drives for global consciousness in teacher education, firstly with material from the 2014–15 Report of the International Affairs Office, DCU St. Patrick’s. This is enhanced with data from the Geography Department’s commitment to Sustainable Development and Citizenship enhancing skills and competencies with shared international work including PEERS.

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