08 Jul SOCI@LL in a nutshell !
SOCI@LL PROJECT: WHOLE-SCHOOL APPROACH IN CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION – LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS CONNECTING YOUNGSTERS, SCHOOL COMMUNITY AND WIDER SOCIETY
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Over the past years, the concepts of education and active citizenship go hand in hand to promote a more democratic, active and inclusive Europe. The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) defines and enhances the concept of citizenship education as “the subject area that is promoted in schools to foster the harmonious co-existence and mutually beneficial development of individuals and of the communities they are part of”. In fact, citizenship education promotes skills that go far beyond curricular learning, namely democratic, social, personal and interpersonal competencies, thus allowing youngsters to actively participate in experiences bridging school and the wider society.
Considering this European vision of citizenship education, the SOCI@LL – Whole School Social Labs project is changing the way students, teachers, schools and communities cooperate to create innovative approaches for social inclusion, promoting participatory and empowering tools for creative and sustainable solutions, co-designed with key stakeholders, within a whole school framework and through local social labs. To achieve these goals, a set of different tools, resources and guidelines for teachers, school leaders and local authorities were produced to involve all targets in the development of initiatives, inside and outside the classes.
During the project implementation, several schools and stakeholders put the SOCI@LL methodology into practice using the materials developed, namely a Toolkit for Teachers with lesson plans and practical materials/exercises to perform with students addressing interculturality, interpersonal relations, active participation, globalization, among other issues. Also, a Toolkit for School Leaders was developed to support the creation and sustainability of culturally sensitive and inclusive systems inside and around schools, addressing strategies, tools and methods for school leaders to put into action. Based on the contents of this Toolkit, SOCI@LL Weeks were organised, bringing together the school community and other stakeholders and reflecting the commitment of the school with the SOCI@LL objectives and engage the whole community towards more inclusive and democratic schools.
A series of events have been organised with teachers and students to understand the impact and possible exploitation of the SOCI@LL products. Interestingly, teachers see the resources as alternative vehicles for addressing issues that complement the common curriculum and that are key to address with students; they also mentioned that materials are excellent bases for teachers to promote reflection and discussion around sensitive topics, giving them security and tools for this; and the students have mentioned and thanked the existence of materials that promote critical thinking, active participation and joint work between all.
Although the importance of citizenship education is increasingly evident in teaching at all levels, it becomes even more important to create spaces and opportunities for students to express their opinions and actively participate in society. And it is also in this sense that SOCI@LL becomes such a “whole-school approach” project, by establishing local partnerships and co-working between students, the community and the school, in which the involvement of young people in the discussion, design solutions and project development (project-based learning) becomes the key for success.