A part of the union;Secondary;Books

1st May 1998 at 01:00
DEVELOPING EUROPEAN CITIZENS. Edited by Ian Davies and Andreas Sobisch. Sheffield Hallam University Press, pound;15.00 plus pound;3.00 pamp;p.

Given the Department for Education and Employment's imminent report on citizenship education, this volume from the Politics Association is well-timed. Since Maastricht, after all, we are citizens of Europe too. So any citizenship curriculum should reflect our European rights and duties as well as New Labour's call for civic, patriotic virtue.

But how to do it? The second part of this book describes various examples of good practice. Three are particularly interesting: a description of the prestigious partnership of Europe Schools in the German state of Hesse; an account of the Philomel Project, in which schools across Europe draw on children's creativity to represent the dream of greater union; and an account of the remarkably ambitious projects (including a dramatic Berlin Wall made from 1,200 supermarket boxes and due for symbolic deconstruction) undertaken by pupils at the Boothville Middle School, Northampton. Add the clearest guide I have seen to accessing Socrates and Euro-education funding and you have some useful, optimistic reading.

The early chapters, by political scientists, are equally important. Their thrust is that citizenship - any citizenship - is more than a slogan. It involves a sense of belonging - participation, in other words, matters just as much as a list of rights and duties. That is a hurdle all citizenship planners need to surmount, not just the Europhiles.

It is not the fault of schools that so many people feel themselves excluded. A second message, important for schools and politicians too, is that if you are going to teach citizenship, process matters more than content. That comes across clearly in the evaluation of the Hesse project, where the partner schools learned "to do fewer things, and do them better".

Before they write the new curriculum, citizenship planners would do well to take note.

Michael Duffy

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