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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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Bridging the Gap: Primary and Secondary Students’ Engagement with Global and Environmental Issues Cathie Holden 189


Bridging the Gap: Primary and Secondary Students’ Engagement with Global and Environmental Issues CATHIE HOLDEN How is it that by the time they leave primary school, children want to know about the world around them and want to act for change but when they leave secondary school, some five or six years later, these same young people may be sceptical, possibly even cynical, admitting that they unlikely to participate in democratic processes and feeling inadequately prepared for their role as active citizens? Is it the fault of the school, the media, or part of young people’s ‘natural’ de- velopment? This chapter will use data from a major European study to look at how young people’s interest in, understanding of, and commitment to local and global issues change between the ages of eleven and seventeen, and what teachers can do to maintain and build upon students’ initial enthusiasm. Whilst the study took place in Spain, Poland, Turkey and England, this chapter derives mostly from data from the South West of England. The first section reports on findings from the ESF study into students’ concerns for the future, specifically focusing on data con- cerning students’ involvement in projects and organisations acting for change, individual action to improve the community and actions they may take in the future. Differences of opinion, understanding and action according to age and gender are discussed and conclu- sions drawn. The second section debates what can be done, sug- gesting approaches and providing case study examples. The impor-...

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