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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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Citizenship, Cooperation and Social Action Alistair Ross 133


Citizenship, Cooperation and Social Action ALISTAIR ROSS What is, or should be, the role of schools in developing young peoples’ social understanding and behaviour? Should teachers and educational authorities encourage learning to cooperate, or learning to be ‘civic’, or to compete? And if so, how? What responsibilities do educators have to move beyond teaching information and skills to teaching social values and attitudes? These are not easy or straight- forward questions, and there have been in the past century some unhappy ventures into these areas, across Europe, the results of which may have been perceived as a warning against teachers be- coming involved in potentially contentious areas. This chapter will draw on some of the findings of the research project to suggest that teachers need to be aware of, and responsive to, the needs young people have for understanding political participation and for finding out how to engage and become involved in community activity and decision-making. Schools, it will be argued, have a responsibility to help pupils understand fairness, cooperation and citizenship. Many young people want to know about social and political issues, and how to engage in them, and schools should have a role in this. The chapter begins by reviewing information about how young people think that they will act in a ‘political’ manner when they are adult. There was much discussion in the 1960s and 1970s about how countries, and their education systems, should promote a ‘civic culture’ (for example, Almond and Verba 1965). I will suggest...

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