HISTORY, CIVIC EDUCATION AND HERITAGE EDUCATION: THE CHALLENGES OF TEACHERS IN DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY
University of Bologna, Italy
The law on the new Civic Education has the advantage of identifying a set of themes that the most recent training guidelines now consider as essential. This is an interesting trend, which revolves around the promotion of critical thinking, creativity, social and cultural awareness as precious tools to combat all forms of violence, injustice and discrimination. The indications also combine the needs of the labor market and economic progress with the safeguarding of ethical sensitivity to social issues, in accordance with the objectives of the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable, equitable and inclusive development, which also includes the goal of a quality education, equally equitable and inclusive.
The speech will focus attention on three fundamental aspects or on the main challenges that teachers must face from an educational point of view:
1. Teacher training.
2. The preparation of truly meaningful and motivating paths.
3. A program that is increasingly capable of networking with the territory and the entire educational community.
Three areas of reflection that will also draw from didactic practices in the belief that every identity evolves and that any presumption of its immobility is unfounded with to justify the refusal of new cultural encounters and related changes. This can be verified in various fields starting from the socio-anthropological one, since the need to regain possession of the historical-cultural heritages of our communities has been accentuated by the formidable acceleration of transformations in individual and collective ways of life.
Challenges that cannot be separated from the search for methodological innovations in the field of civic education through unconventional learning approaches.
The reference is in particular to the reconsideration of the history curriculum starting from heritage education, as a renewal for the teaching of history, which passes through experiences of education for active citizenship.
IMPLEMENTING CIVIC EDUCATION: THE ITALIAN CASE
University of Vienna, Center for Teacher Education, Department of Didactics of Civic and Citizenship Education
There are several social and political actors who have the responsibility of providing education to citizens to sustain democracy. Among these, teachers hold this responsibility. Education is therefore key to enabling citizens to participate in democracy (Reichert, Print, 2019; Baldacci, 2014).
Civic Education is a subject aimed at addressing this issue and has been progressively gaining prominence in Europe. Italy as well, in fact, recently made the subject compulsory (law n.92/2019).
Despite this, little is known about what teachers actually believe the subject should involve in terms of goals, content and methods (Reichert et al. 2020).
Teachers’ beliefs, according to Fives and Buehl (2012), are constructs that are both implicit and explicit, and stable and dynamic according to the belief under consideration. In this understanding, knowledge and beliefs are interconnected. Moreover, beliefs are context-dependent and change according to regional or cultural contexts (Reichert et al., 2020).
I argue that beliefs can allow to discern the different understandings of Civic Education that teachers hold, and how these correspond to a more liberal or critical idea of citizenship. The question I address is part of my doctoral dissertation and it is about how upper secondary school teachers explore Civic Education in Italy. To answer it, I am collecting data on teachers' beliefs about Civic Education through problem-centred interviews and analysing them through thematic text analysis (as in Kuckarz, 2014). The sample encompasses teachers working in two Italian cities, Forlì and Caserta. This choice is motivated by the idea that both cities are part of regions with the most and least civic traditions, as argued by Putnam (1993).
As part of my doctoral dissertation, I will present the first preliminary results of this study to shed a light upon different conceptualisations of citizenship and different understandings of Civic Education.
Baldacci, M. (2014). Per un’idea di scuola. Istruzione, lavoro e democrazia. FrancoAngeli.
Fives, H., & Buehl, M. M. (2012). Spring cleaning for the “messy” construct of teachers’ beliefs: What are they? Which have been examined? What can they tell us? In K. R. Harris, S. Graham, T. Urdan, S. Graham, J. M. Royer, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), APA educational psychology handbook, Vol 2: Individual differences and cultural and contextual factors. (pp. 471–499). American Psychological Association.
Kuckartz, U. (2014). Qualitative text analysis: A guide to methods, practice & using software (A. McWhertor, Trans.). SAGE.
Putnam, R. D., Leonardi, R., & Nanetti, R. (1993). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton University Press.
Reichert, F., Lange, D., & Chow, L. (2020). Educational beliefs matter for classroom instruction: A comparative analysis of teachers’ beliefs about the aims of civic education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 13.
Reichert, F., & Print, M. (2019). Participatory practices and political knowledge: How motivational inequality moderates the effects of formal participation on knowledge. Social Psychology of Education, 22(5), 1085–1108.
LANGUAGE EDUCATION AND CITIZENSHIP
Università per Stranieri di Siena, Italy
The contribution aims to reflect on the role of school as a "citizenization" agent in multicultural societies.
One of the tasks entrusted to schools by Italian constitution is to remove the obstacles that stand in the way of the free exercise of the rights and duties of citizenship and democracy. Of these, one of the first and "the most terrible (because it is the most hidden and concealed)" (De Mauro, 1995) is the inability to use words: "to control written communication, to have full access to the information necessary to live and, sometimes, to survive, therefore to build an adequate critical equipment and a real capacity to understand and control what is around us” (ibidem).
In the Italian school system, for historical and political reasons, this task has been interpreted from a monolingual point of view, both as adherence to a language as a closed, non-variable system of forms and structures - whereas the objective should be the ability to move with variable and multiple tools within a complex linguistic space - and as the offer of a single language, Italian, considering the plurilingualism, widespread for centuries throughout Italy, as an obstacle.
This attitude towards language and language education has remained constant even when pupils of foreign origin have entered the school system. Their condition of plurilingualism was seen as an impediment to learning both the Italian language and the other school subjects. Thus, the new and complex plurilingual context has not been tackled as a challenge to reformulate the principles of democratic language education (GILSEL 1975), and to reaffirm the centrality and transversality of language education itself, in the construction of people who think and operate actively in society, and for the construction of a truly inclusive school.
Instead, the Italian school system has continued to adopt occasional and not structural policies in response to emergencies, or has gone after more or less transitory fashions, not making "educational research a field of experimental investigation and consequent action" (Ambel, 2018).
In the last decades, however, both from a scientific perspective and through language policy recommendations (Council of Europe, 2001 and 2018), it has emerged that respecting language diversity is a fundamental element of a just and equitable society. Many studies have demonstrated that the right to use one's own language is a decisive component in a person's intellectual and emotional development (Byalistok et al. 2008; Costa et al., 2014) and that the combination of the individual benefits and the educational benefits of plurilingualism has the potential to decrease social and economic inequalities and to increase the economic wellbeing of societies (Gazzola, Grin, Wickström, 2015).
The absence of such a vision in Italian schools means that inequalities are accepted and confirmed: the percentages of pupils of foreign origin are now added to the percentages of Italian pupils who are excluded from the education system every year. The analysis of data and experiences in other countries will show how it is increasingly necessary to change attitudes towards diversity and language education.
POLITICAL LITERACY AS A RESPONSE TO COVID-19: THE MISSING LINK AT EUROPEAN AND NATIONAL LEVEL
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
The Covid-19 began infecting the population of Wuhan, China in December 2019, and it has now become a global pandemic posing not only enormous challenges for the medical and scientific community, but also bringing with it severe economic and social consequences. Covid-19 has had a major impact to society and economy and it is seen as a major driver for the transformations of education in Europe, including the potential impact on education equity, the implications of the online conversion of classroom teaching, and an overall increased responsibility of education systems in the pandemic and post-pandemic world. In this respect, the Covid-19 pandemic also portends a troubling scenario in terms of an economic, social, and geopolitical crisis, which ultimately could potentially endanger democratic societies. In short, Covid-19 might also represent a risk in relation to the erosion of democracies with populists potentially taking advantage of the social panic and insecurity felt by the general public. Within this context, the teaching of political literacy, namely political knowledge which helps citizens to make sense of their political world and make them effective in public life through knowledge, skills and values, has been only marginally covered in civic education curricula. By conceptualizing political literacy as a common European public good, this paper examines the state of the art of political literacy in European schools. Specifically, based on qualitative data, teachers' and experts’ interviews, the paper first looks at how political literacy is embedded into curricula, how is taught and what kind of training and support teachers receive in the secondary schools of Italy and the UK when it comes to political literacy. Then, the paper examines to what extent political literacy is incorporated within European education strategies and policy initiatives regarding citizenship education. If it is to be effective, the promotion of political literacy will ultimately draw on strengthening and deepening coordinated actions at European and national level.
THE “CLIMATE” OF THE POST-COVID CLASSROOM. NEW IDEAS FOR CIVIC EDUCATION AND CITIZENSHIP TRANSFORMATION
1LUMSA, Italy; 2LUMSA, Italy; 3LUMSA, Italy; 4LUMSA, Italy
Based on the dramatic current global and social changes imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to develop and implement useful teaching and training methodologies to promote students’ attitudes and behaviors needed to fulfill and deal with the present challenges. Service-Learning is a pedagogical approach that allows the development of significant curricular learning, through prosocial actions addressed to one's community or to the socio-territorial context of belonging. The Postgraduate School EIS proposed online Service-Learning laboratories for high schools within the pathways for guidance and development of transversal competencies (soft skills) that all the Italian high schools organize together with different institutions (companies, universities, NGOs etc.). The majority of students carried out advocacy Service-Learning activities, namely awareness initiatives to address a community's issues or needs, with the desire to make a difference by improving policies and practices as well as specific behaviours. This paper describes the Service-Learning laboratory that involved almost 100 students from four different schools of Rome and province, and the projects that they implemented.
THE CONCEPTS OF HERITAGE AND EDUCATION FOR ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP IN THE REPRESENTATIONS OF FUTURE TEACHERS: A SURVEY
University of Bologna, Italy
In the context of school education, the notion of active citizenship is configured as an educational methodology that is transversal and integrated with knowledge. It is combined with the teaching of Citizenship and Constitution, pertaining to the historical, geographical and social areas of the study paths, which is carried out in a perspective of interactive dialogue between the various curricular disciplines in order to activate participatory learning of cultural processes and the formation of the individual.
In relation to the European key competences and the cultural axes of the Italian national system, the acquisition of the principles of active citizenship is achieved through an educational path inherent in the three dimensions of person, citizen and worker and it is established as a theoretical-practical value profile oriented towards preparing young people for civic responsibility and social participation. At the same time, scientific research in the field of didactics of history has long underlined that historical knowledge allows citizens to be educated to understand the present; values, the development of strategies to deal with the uncertainty of the future; the ability to deal with relevant social problems and to deepen a democratic citizenship; to the enhancement, enjoyment, defense and conservation of cultural heritage and the development of a global awareness.
In this context, the principles of active citizenship are strongly relevant and complementary to the cognitive path of historical and transversal issues such as the protection, safeguarding and accessibility of cultural heritage. Working on these issues at school allows, in fact, to develop objectives such as the concepts of identity and otherness, of relationship and participation.
In order, therefore, to evaluate how historical and heritage education are involved in formal education, a questionnaire on the theme of heritage and on the teaching methodologies linked to it was administered to 167 future teachers, university students belonging to the Single-cycle Master's Degree course in Primary Education of the University of Bologna in the academic year 2019/2020. Therefore, through a survey-based exploratory research, it was possible to identify bivalent opinions: on the one hand, the interviewees recognize a significant educational impact on the heritage, aimed at developing the skills of active citizenship; on the other hand, during the years of compulsory schooling and, in particular, during secondary school, they had to deal with a teaching that left very little room for an adequate treatment of the heritage in the classroom.
THE ROLE OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING IN CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION: LESSONS FROM THE FIELD
Fondaca, Active Citizenship Foundation, Italy
Over the past decade, civic education has been at the heart of a significant cultural debate and policy review concerning its purposes, main topics of interest, methodology and practice strategies in school learning. The major driver behind the implementation of citizenship education has been the aspiration to respond to a number of perceived current social problems and concerns about young people’s lack of knowledge and confidence in topics related to civic awareness and values, social cohesion as well as duties and obligations to the community (Fondaca, 2018).
In the absence of these virtues or traits the civic educational mission has been almost totally entrusted to the public school system. Besides family, friends and local communities, school is in fact considered to have a fundamental role in preparing and supporting young people in the acquisition of knowledge and attitudes that will lead them to be truly involved in all the decision-making processes that affect their lives.
Nevertheless, citizenship is a multidimensional, dynamic, complex and contested concept (Moro, 2020). For that reason, teachers, as well as the other members of the educational community, constantly face new challenges in the training of young citizens. However, school is an agent of socialization and a place where transformation, adaptation and developments of citizenship take place, providing an exceptional framework in which new civic knowledge, attitudes and behaviours can be identified, promoted and observed. Multicultural and digital citizenship, both as emerging topics and real conditions, are two examples of this peculiar phenomenon.
In this context, a clear need to improve participatory approaches in the training of pupils arises. Since civic education is meant to prepare young people for an active and positive contribution to society, it should not only convey theoretical knowledge but also promote behaviours which are necessary to effectively participate in the civic sphere.
This paper aims to describe how empowering practices, as associated with experiential learning with a very particular interest to the context of what young people encounter on a daily basis, can be an effective way to promote youth civic development. The first section introduces the increasing emphasis on citizenship education and the approaches to citizenship education according to national curricula. The second section details the results of the experience Fondaca - Active Citizenship Foundation gained during the last years in conducting workshops for students, teachers’ training and in promoting acts of civic engagement. The final section discusses what appears to be happening in terms of approaches to citizenship education in schools and how these insights impact on students in term of learning effects.
The evidence base for this paper is drawn from a variety of sources, from Fondaca’s studies on citizenship education and from concrete empirical data.