“Changes are inevitable and not always controllable. What can be controlled is how you manage, react to and work through the change process.”
― Kelly A. Morgan.
In this period of great global political and economic instability, rising inequality and social unrest, the role of education within society has never been more important, but never more vulnerable. This brings us to our project theme, which references these inherent vulnerabilities in both educational systems and the individual students and teachers, as well as the necessary resilience needed to not only survive, but also thrive.
How do we – teachers, administrators and policy makers – adopt and adapt to change outside our control? How do we nurture and encourage positive change, through the excitement of the imagination, innovation and creativity? How can technologies be better used to help us teach, and to help students learn? How do we sustain and manage change? How can we react positively to negative change? How can we, our institutions and our students survive and thrive in these times of change? How can we teach to rely on each other to build a future of prosperity?
As our project title states, schools must face challenges and offer strategies and paths to provide students with alternative viewpoints and attitudes to cope with them. Although all partner countries belong to the European Union and a globalized society and have similar challenges to face, each country has chosen the most relevant and urgent challenge for its school:
- Inclusion in the classroom (Belgium);
- Awareness and intervention on violence because of gender (Spain);
- Integration of national minorities (Lithuania);
- Virtual life taking over real one (Hungary);
- Respect matters – prevention strategies against cyberbullying and other conflicts / learning from team work (Portugal);
- Inclusion of pupils from other islands with different linguistic and cultural background (France, Ile de la Réunion).
Having in mind all these specific challenges, the whole project aims at reaching three main goals or objectives:
1. Raising awareness in our young people of each social challenge, providing them with an opportunity to develop their understanding and discuss issues affecting their lives in their respective countries and their communities.
2. Providing and acquiring criteria to intervene, through a variety of activities including workshops, case writing projects as well as games, role-plays, discussions, debates and collaborative activities.
3. Positively acting, thus developing and improving the level of key competencies and skills of young people necessary for active and committed citizenship and participation in life of their respective countries.
Thus, through these objectives we want to teach our secondary school students to discuss issues affecting the youth in their communities as well as explore, learn and discuss issues related to the practice of civic engagement. At the same time, the objectives seek to develop their skills in communication, debating and critical thinking and engage them into interacting with members of each other’s communities. Finally, these goals further seek to create a motivational environment for young people’s interaction and mutual exchange of best practices.