Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Protocol of the Workshop 7 by Despina Christaki


Note: It was part of the concept of the Fifth Seminar to involve students of Athens University, so that each workshop had one or two student observers. They became active participants, as for example in this workshop, by writing the main protocol. In other workshops, the protocol of the students was used by the chairpersons to write up their final reports. The students helped also tremendously in translation of texts into Greek and to facilitate a smooth functioning of the overall seminar. Their engagement and support was very much appreciated.  HF


The fact that most of the European Countries or member states seem to pay growing attention to their ancient features, to their heritage and to their national habits, which can be characterized as a kind of renationalisation, even as a regression. It is important for this workshop to put forward some strategic points, concrete proposals and suggestions for the development of European programmes. Two points need to be said for the evaluation and possible shaping of these programmes:

- when seen at a European level, all nations have to be considered as being minorities. The capacity of intercultural co-existence is vital for everybody.

- These programmes refer both to primary / secondary education and to university education.

A special attempt was made within the workshop to deal with questions related to primary / secondary education. As time goes by, generations keep changing and what changes along with them are the nations. In that direction, education can really help so as to create a multi-cultural attitude, a notion of accepting and tolerating differences. A child must learn to live with difference. This confrontation with the 'foreign' can start already within the family which is also a way of culture. Early and continuous education, life-long learning is a predominant factor in keeping up with reality, in breaking down barriers of prejudice and in looking at things from different angles and perspectives. In that way a child can grow up getting to know its roots - political, religious and cultural ones. It can learn by comparison and come to understand in this way what European culture is about. A way of preparing children for this cause is by exchange programmes, but not with just sending people around but with making the contact fruitful. A child should be confronted with language, history, culture, identities and society. A rather successful example of this strategy is the International Assembly (a Greek-Italian, for the moment, programme) which brings teachers, pupils and parents in contact with each other. So by learning to live with one's own culture in co-existence with others, the phenomena of Nationalism could be prevented.

Another main question is that of the teacher's training. The present task of the teacher is not to compare European subjects matters or experiences. The Commission could definitely help in this case. Not by imposing one exclusive policy but by giving some hints so that the teacher can get out of isolation and work together with other colleagues. He should tell overtly his problems, have the courage to ask critical questions, focus on the intelligence, the thoughts and the imagination of the pupil. Some conferences may definitely help. And what can also help is experimentation and development. Hypothetically speaking, the use of about 10% of teaching-time for experimental intercultural aims could result in wonderful outputs. Thus, the vocational and more systematic training of the teachers on the one hand, and the curriculum development on the other could bring about the rejection of the imitative processes of learning. It's beyond a shadow of a doubt that apart from the fact that a feeling of appreciation must be developed towards the European Union, what should change progressively is the exam system, so that pupils can be liberated from the stress of sterile imitation and teachers can teach with more freedom.

One of these really good things that could be used more intensively is poetry and generally theatre and the arts; it is a domain that has definitely been neglected. It is often argued whether poetry has anything to do with reality. However, poetry is deeply connected with life, with science, with physical objects. Education needs a new approach to poetry. A new attitude, not more knowledge. Children should get in contact with poetry from a very early age, because poetry and theatre and the arts are all a part of humanities. Since children are much more sensitive at that age, it is likely that they adopt positively the role of the Arts in the process of sensibilization and have a much more positive view about the political culture of tolerance, when they grow up. The universality of poetry is a feature that can apply perfectly in terms of the European Union, especially if a policy of reinforcing translation of poetry is taken up. In that way, the total language and the language of the difference will be much more appreciated.

An interesting way of developing an understanding in the EU is by helping children learn foreign languages in a functional way. One rather miserable conclusion one can draw is that apart from the English language, other EC languages are not so wide-spread, and in this situation T.V. plays a great role. So a more diversified language system must be employed, especially at an early age. Children should learn other languages because they will at some time in the future need them and because there exist in society language requirements. The essential element is the capacity of learning different foreign languages.

Leaving primary / secondary education, we reach university education which has its problems as well. A big question is about the present and mostly the future of educational exchange programmes (1) and about if and to what degree these programmes employ humanity studies. In order to improve and to prepare European programmes, we are in need of working relations between individuals, institutes and personalities and not only relations between institutions. We have to be extremely careful in creating a positive atmosphere which will have an impact both upon teachers and upon students. Re-arrangement of the exam system, the study programmes and the recognition teachers and students receive, that could be a first step in the development of common approaches, so that all programmes (Lingua, Erasmus, Socrates) can continue in creating excellence. Especially the programme Socrates is referring also to primary and secondary education which in that way come closer to University education. But the question is whether they have anything to do with the idea of "humanities", of humanity studies. (2) Nowadays, there is definitely the tendency for technology programmes to dominate and many departments which used to offer humanities having been forced to close. It would constitute an important step to create Jean Monnet chairs in the field of the humanities. But we do have to distinguish between economic aims from political / educational aims. And also that the EU heritage is a dynamic one, not a static one. (3)

Last but not least, the question of distinguishing the state from culture ('Staatsnation' not being equal to 'Kulturnation') has to be handled. Even though the EU was formed by member states regardless of the cultural differences - in other words, there are political and economic actions without cultural ones - nowadays we must pursue the solution of cultural problems, apart from the political and economic unity.

Hopefully, the result will be a lack of disturbances and difficulties on the cultural level, and cases like that of Belgium where the nation is a member of the community, whereas the culture (Flemish) is not, can be eliminated. The principle of respect of the cultural diversity (a principle that is vivid within the states of the EU and in the EU as a whole), will guarantee that each cultural entity will be acknowledged as existing in the legal framework of the EU.

The process of finding one's own identity and of respecting the cultural diversity actually goes through educational programmes with a much broader sense than just being a "transmission of knowledge".

The following proposals were adopted by the working group:

1.  In defence of ERASMUS. See the London Statement, 6. May 1994,

2.  Proposal by chair person, Prof. Robert Picht,

3.  Principal Recommendations: Humanities as Academic Disciplines and the European Union by G. Reydams-Schils, and special mention of

4.  Education of Migrant workers by Jose Valencia.

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