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Their Hopes, Fears and Reality

Working with Children and Youth for the Future

Edited By Melinda Ann Dooly Owenby

Based on a research project supported by the European Foundation, this book explores how primary and secondary students in four different European countries view theirs and the world’s future. The results indicate that there is a gap between students’ perspectives about the future and a clear pedagogical base for helping students confront many issues that are significant to them. The importance of ensuring students become critically aware citizens and helping them develop the ability and skills necessary for facing the challenges of the future are patent. This book spells out specific ways in which the issues which emerged from the study can be approached from diverse fields (geography, language learning and arts and crafts). It also discusses some cross-disciplinary educational issues relevant to all teachers – general education and cross-disciplinary, as well as offering two proposals on how teachers can count on sufficient psychological support to face the challenges of teaching in an increasingly complex environment and promote cooperative behaviour in the classroom.


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Their Hopes and Fears: A Catalyst for Project-Based Language Learning Melinda Dooly 99


Their Hopes and Fears: A Catalyst for Project-Based Language Learning MELINDA DOOLY [...] and now that more and more they do languages and ask for languages in work it’s sure you’ll have to know languages (10 years old – Spanish female; focus group interview) The ESF research which provides the basis for this chapter did not specifically focus on different competences that the students felt they should have in order to be prepared for their future. However, as is evidenced by the quote above, the topic of good communicative skills in different languages emerged either directly or indirectly throughout the two-year study. When asked about their personal as- pirations in an open-ended question, the top category of answers cor- responded to professional aspirations (“get a good job”; get a job I like”; “get a job that makes me feel accomplished”, etc.). The focus group interviews provided further insight into the children and youth’s perspectives concerning their future job aspirations – and a good command of multiple languages emerged, as attested by the quote above as well as other statements by the respondents: “To get a good job, you’ve got to speak English” (Spanish girl, 13 years old). One ten-year old girl even listed “knowing lots of languages” as her top personal aspiration. In the study, a significant percentage of the children and youth indicated that they were worried about future opportunities, in- cluding studies – especially concerning access to higher education. It should be noted that educational concerns were not as prominent as job...

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