This chapter is based on two Education for Democratic Intercultural Citizenship (EDIC) Intensive Programmes held in Prague in 2017 and in Tallinn-Helsinki in 2018.1 In introducing the themes and methods used during these Intensive Programmes, this chapter focuses particularly on local flavour. It also addresses the participating students’ most important learning experiences.
EDIC Intensive Programmes were created to test, share and calibrate elements of each of the seven modules (see other chapters in the present volume) into a joint EDIC curriculum. Seven EDIC universities each sent two teachers and three students who came together for a ten-day-long Intensive Programme. Intensive Programmes created opportunities to learn democratic intercultural citizenship by literally practising social inclusion and civic competence.
The Intensive Programmes (IP) consisted of lectures, roundtable discussions, field visits, and interactions with the civic society. The lectures given by the teachers from the seven EDIC universities presented parts of each module. In roundtable discussions, students had brief group time with each of the EDIC teachers and were able to learn more about the topics of each module. These activities, as well as teachers’ meetings (Table 9.1), formed an integral part of the development of the EDIC curriculum.
Schedule of the EDIC Intensive Programmes in Prague and Tallinn-Helsinki
|Day||Prague: Educational activities in civil society||Tallinn-Helsinki: Educational practices in schools|
|1||Introduction to EDIC|
– Poster session: Students present their posters
– Lecture: Sentenced to freedom, comparison of two schools, Dana Moree (CZ)
– Tour: Walk around the city guided by students from Charles University
– Guest speaker Igor Blazevic, co-founder of civic society in Czech R. after the communist regime
|Introduction to EDIC|
– Poster session: Students present their posters
– Lecture: Social Inclusion, Chloe Yeh (UK)
– Tour 1: Around the Tallinn University: Introduction to Estonian education, by the Estonian participants
– Tour 2: Tallinn guided tour by students from Tallinn 21. upper secondary school
– Guest speakers: Ivor Goodson and Marko Rillo: School of future – a workplace, a club or a hospital?
– Lectures: Mock elections in citizenship education, Isolde de Groot (NL), How can purpose be taught?, Elina Kuusisto (FI), School performance of immigrant children and immigrant policy, Anastasia Kesidou (GR), Becoming a teacher, Fransisco Esteban (ES)
– Reflection: Students write learning diary
– Lectures: Democratic citizenship, Terezie Vávrová (CZ), Cultural diversity, Anastasia Kesidou (GR), Ethical competences, Elena Noguera (EE)
– Special: Learning Estonian national dances
|3||Civic society healing the wounds –|
Field trip to North Bohemia of Czech Repub.
– Visit to a work camp established after the II World War
– Visit to abandoned German village and writing a poem about the experience
|Educational practices in Estonian schools –|
Field trip to Peetri Kindergarten-Primary School
– Lectures: Innovative practices, Eve Eisenschmidt (EE), Science curricula, Kristi Mets-Alunurm (EE), Classroom research, Kreet Piiriselg (EE)
– Classroom observations
– Talk with the school representatives
– EDIC lectures: Non-formal citizenship education, Reet Sillavee (EE), Social and educational inclusion, Ghazala Bhatti (UK)
– Roundtables: students discuss with the lectures in small groups
– Reflection: Students write learning diary
– Lectures: Mock elections, Isolde de Groot (NL), Social and educational inclusion, Ghazala Bhatti (UK)
– Students’ presentations on teacher work
– Guest speaker: Young Estonian Russian activist speaking about his personal experience
|5||Theatre of the Oppressed|
– Group work: Students reflected on the topics of the seven EDIC+ modules
– Teachers’ meeting
– Visit: Theatre of the oppressed performance “Havlonáda”
|Closing of the Estonian part of IP|
– Reflection: Students write learning diary
– Lecture: Teachers on the waves of transformation,
Dana Moree (CZ)
– Group work: Photo hunt
– Teachers’ meeting
– Closing reception
|6||Free day||Free day for students/Teachers’ meeting|
|7||Tour: Prague guided by homeless people||Free day|
– Group work: Students’ presentations
– Lectures: Teachers’ implicit meaning systems, Kirsi Tirri (FI), Educational policy, Eve Eisenschmidt (EE)
|Ferry to Helsinki – History of Finnish educational practices|
– Lectures: History of Finnish educational system, Mikko Niemelä (FI), Moral Education at School, Maria Rosa Burrarrais (ES)
– Field trip to Helsinki City Museum: Experiencing Finnish teaching practices at 1930s
– Lectures: Understanding human rights, historical perspective, Filimon Peonidis (GR), Family and moral education, Maria Rosa Buxarrais (ES)
|Current educational practices in Finnish schools - Field trip to Normal Lyceum School|
– Lectures: Ethical sensitivity, Kirsi Tirri (FI), Speaking about conspiracy theories to students, Filimon Peonidis (GR)
– Classroom observations
– Talk with the principal Tapio Lahtero
– Lecture: Future of EDIC, Wiel Veugelers (NL)
– Evaluation: Feedback from students
– Closing reception
– Lectures: Life purpose, Elina Kuusisto (FI), Future of EDIC,
Wiel Veugelers (NL)
– Evaluation: Feedback from students
– Closing reception
CZ = Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic; EE = University of Tallinn, Tallinn, Estonia; FI = University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; GR = Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece; NL = University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, the Netherlands; ES = University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; UK = University of Bath Spa, Bath, United Kingdom
Field trips and interactions with civic society addressed the interdisciplinary nature of academic cooperation by including a broad range of partners representing social sciences, humanities, and teacher education. By offering holistic education for democratic intercultural citizenship, the EDIC Intensive Programmes aimed to support the education of future teachers and educational professionals, and to train them in how to promote European values (Veugelers, de Groot, & Stolk, 2017) such as preventing violent radicalisation, fostering social integration, and enhancing intercultural understanding. The teaching and learning activities envisaged in IPs were intended to help participants build a sense of belonging to a European community and a social capital by empowering them to participate actively in European societies. The values of democracy and tolerance were strongly supported in Intensive Programmes by enhancing the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education and allowing the participants to experience intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity. The participants of the Intensive Programmes represented not only the seven EDIC countries, but also included students from all over Europe as well as students from Africa, Latin America, North America, the Middle East and Asia. These international students were registered for degrees at different EDIC universities and had opted to participate in this enrichment programme offered by EDIC. Thus, the Intensive Programmes were internationally oriented educational activities in themselves, in addition to which they served as inspiration for the development of the modules in each country. In the Intensive Programmes, parts of the modules were tried out and critically reflected on by fellow teachers and students.
2 Themes of Intensive Programmes: European Inclusiveness, with a Focus on National, Regional and Local Differences
The EDIC programme was created to be research-oriented, comparative, and linked with civil society. This transnational nature of the project was highlighted during the Intensive Programmes: teachers and students were given opportunity to experience and express European inclusiveness, with attention for national, regional and local differences and academic traditions. The themes of the Intensive Programmes were chosen to highlight the academic and cultural traditions of intercultural and civic education in the country and university organising the Intensive Programme.
2.1 Educational Activities in Civic Society: Charles University in Prague
In Prague, the theme was Educational Activities in Civic Society in order to highlight the role of civic society in building and developing the Czech Republic after the end of the Soviet regime in 1991. Because of the relatively short history of the Czech Republic’s civic society, the Intensive Programme was able to provide opportunities to meet both founding and current activists, and to experience the educational activities that Charles University is advocating and developing with a wide range of partners across the country.
Since the Velvet revolution in 1989, civic education has had to go through a turbulent development. During the Cold War, this field of education was used to pass on ideology to all the students with the intention to create obedient citizens of the totalitarian state. Citizenship education went through rapid development after 1989, and is still in progress. The Intensive Programme in Prague offered a condensed experience of sharing and re-building a topic like citizenship education from the perspective of the agents of change from past and present generations, who still play an active role in its definition and practice.
During the Intensive Programme, participants experienced educational activities of Czech civic society in four ways: (1) a discussion with one of the co-founders of Czech civic society; (2) a field trip guided by NGO Antikomplex to an abandoned village and a prison camp in Sudetenland, the northern border area of the Czech Republic; (3) a play by the Theatre of the Oppressed; and (4) a guided tour in Prague led by homeless people (see Table 9.1).
2.1.1 Meeting a Co-Founder of Czech Civic Society
During the first evening in Prague, IP participants were introduced to and conversed with Mr Igor Blaževič, who is regarded as one of the co-founders of civic society in the Czech Republic. Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor Blaževič graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, Croatia, and has lived and worked in Prague since 1991. At the time of the IP, he was working at the Prague Civil Society Centre, where he has fulfilled the position of head of the Transitions Programme since 2016. Mr Blaževič has been engaged with People in Need (PIN) since 1992, first as the head of PIN’s communications department and later as director of all of PIN’s democracy assistance and human rights programmes. With PIN, Igor was involved in the support of dissidents and political activists across the globe. In 1997, Igor was reporting from Hong Kong and South East Asia for several media organisations in the Czech Republic. Together with his wife, he has co-authored ten TV documentary films for Czech Television. Igor Blaževič was also the founder and the executive director (1998–2010) of the One World Film Festival in Prague, which is regarded as Europe’s biggest human rights documentary international film festival. From 2011 to early 2016, he worked in Burma/Myanmar as the Lead Lecturer for Educational Initiatives, providing Comparative Political Science courses to local civil society and political activists. With his extensive experience as an activist in the Czech Republic and various parts of the globe, Igor Blaževič was able to share his knowledge and offer critical perspectives. Although Igor shared his passion and purpose in life with the IP participants, he really wanted to continue to address the challenges and difficult issues relating to the democracy and human rights in today’s world. In doing so, he hoped to offer a realistic view to challenge unrealistic or over-optimistic and over-idealistic approaches that might not succeed and might be easily dismissed as pipe dreams, and thus make a difference in the world.
Sudetenland in North Bohemia is a special area near the German border in the northern Czech Republic. Before the Second World War this area was populated by three million German speaking citizens who were deported after the war, in 1945–1946. At the same time, two million settlers from the inner parts of the country were transported to the area. It should be noted that at that time, the territory that today constitutes the Czech Republic (Matějka, n.d.) had a population of approximately nine million. The settling of these new people was not successful and eventually, in the early 1960s, many villages were abandoned and even disappeared. During the Soviet regime (from 1948 to 1989), a large prison camp was established in a Sudetenland town called Jáchymov. During the field trip under the guidance of the volunteers of an NGO called Antikomplex, Jáchymov and one of these abandoned villages were visited.
Antikomplex (2019) was founded to discuss the tragic and widely unacknowledged and forgotten history of Sudetenland. It aims to educate and critically reflect on the past of Sudetenland by raising awareness and promoting people’s “ability to openly reflect on one’s own history”, which is considered to be “one of the basic skills of any free society since World War II”. Antikomplex also highlights that “there are no age-old traumas from the past before us that could scare anyone. Liberation in this case means to recognise all questions that our past has left open and to face them” (Antikomplex, 2019). All EDIC participants were able to walk in the footsteps of the prisoners and experience what are now the ruined homes of the fleeing German families.
The field trip started with a visit to the prison camp in Jáchymov. The prisoners were opponents of the Soviet regime, and they were forced to mine uranium under very tough conditions. The ruins of the large camp are located on a mountain. To illustrate the harshness of the life of prisoners, the IP participants climbed the same stairs that chained-together prisoners used to climb up and down every day. The mining industry in Jáchymov was closed in 1961. Many of those who worked in the mines were seriously ill later (Wikipedia, 2019).
Antikomplex also took the group to visit one of the abandoned, originally German villages, Königsmühle. Before entering the ruins, the volunteers of the Antikomplex explained the history of the village. After that, the students and academics had time to explore the remains, and were all instructed to write a poem describing their feelings and thoughts about this abandoned village, located in a beautiful valley with small brooks running through. Finally, the whole group gathered in one of the buildings, where some of the poems were read aloud and discussed. A number of poems were also discussed next day during classes held in Charles University.
2.1.3 Theatre of the Oppressed
The IP participants were given an opportunity to see a play performed in English by the Theatre of the Oppressed, titled Havlonáda (see chapter XX in this volume). The performance was created by students and young activists of Charles University, Prague, co-operating with people from various NGOs, including Ara Art, the first NGO in Czech Republic aimed at supporting LGBT and Roma minorities. The main character of the play, Klara, returns to the Czech Republic after a long stay in the USA and wants to organise an event where people from ethnic majorities and minorities can come together as a protest against racism and the growing violence in Czech society. She seems to get some support from her friends, who are PR and marketing professionals. However, the clash of values and ideas about what such an event means, seems to make it be impossible.
The play addresses problems that young people experience in the Czech Republic of today; in fact, these issues concerned universal topics such as feeling of loneliness, exclusion, and human rights. The Theatre of the Oppressed engages its audience, inviting them to actively participate in working through the issues and dilemmas and process the topics on stage, and the Intensive Programme participants actively offered input during the scenes. Two students and an academic took part on the stage. This type of learning was memorable and powerful. It made everyone present become immersed in the issues presented on stage, leading them to process and develop their democratic intercultural citizenship at the level of emotions and attitudes.
2.1.4 Guided Tour by Homeless Persons
The fourth experiential learning experience related to the guided tour in Prague from the perspective of a homeless man. The tour was organised by Pragulic (2019), an organisation founded by students and graduates of the Department of Civil Society Studies of Charles University. The basic idea is that trained homeless people prepare guided tours around Prague that are linked to their life experience. Students of the Intensive Programme could spend two hours of their time walking around together with a homeless man. The strong aspect of such an experience is that it is the homeless person who brings his or her experience and expertise and educates the audience. Power positions are subverted and power inequalities are transformed into a new teaching and learning experience.
2.2 Educational Practices in Schools: Universities of Tallinn and Helsinki
The second Intensive Programme was arranged in two countries, Estonia and Finland. Both countries have been highly successful in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) studies, and their educational systems have many similarities (see Tirri, 2014; Sarv, 2014). The countries are located on the opposite sides of the Gulf of Finland – it takes about two and a half hours by ferry to travel from Tallinn to Helsinki. The second Intensive Programme offered participants an opportunity to become familiarised with two globally acknowledged educational systems, with a focus on the education of democratic intercultural citizenship. Thus, the topic of the Tallinn-Helsinki Intensive Programme was Educational Practices in Schools. Participants of the Intensive Programme were introduced to Estonian and Finnish educational practices from three perspectives, namely past, present and future: (1) How have the Estonian and Finnish educational systems developed throughout history? (2) What kind of educational practices are used in today’s schools? (3) What is the future of the school in general?
2.2.1 Educational Practices in the Past
Lectures were held to introduce the history of the educational systems of Estonia and Finland, teaching the participants about the paths that have led to the current situation. Both countries have been subject to Swedish rule, which influenced the development of schooling and the establishment of the first universities. Around 1686, the Swedish king Charles IX ordered that peasants be taught to read, as it was a principle of the Lutheran church that everybody should able to read the Bible by themselves. In Estonia, a teacher training seminary was established in 1684–1688 by Bength Gottfried Forselius (Sarv, 2014); in Finland, the first teacher training college was founded in 1863 by Uno Cygnaeus (Tirri, 2014).
Finland was part of Sweden until 1809, when it became an Autonomous Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire. In Estonia, Swedish rule lasted from 1629 to 1710, followed by periods under Russian rule, independence, German rule and again Russia. Both Estonia and Finland became independent from Russia in 1917. A six-year primary education became compulsory and free for everybody in Estonia in 1920 and in Finland in 1921. Further, parallel school systems offered secondary education in both countries. In Finland, the parallel system was replaced in the 1970s when Finnish educational policy started to emphasise educational equality, resulting in a nine-year basic education that is the same for all children (Tirri & Kuusisto, 2013).
After the Second World War, Finland and Estonia followed different educational paths. Finland kept its independence, but Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union until 1991, when it regained independence. During the Soviet era, all Estonian schools were centralised. The courses, teachers and content of studies were controlled by the Soviet government. However, Estonia was one of very few countries in the few Soviet Union that managed to keep its native Estonian language as the main language of instruction. Estonian language and culture was also kept alive by the communities in exile (Rannap, 2002).
In addition to learning about the historical developments of these educational systems, students of the Intensive Programme visited the Tallinn University Pedagogical Museum and the historical classroom. In Helsinki, they participated in a typical Finnish lesson from the 1930s at the Helsinki City Museum. This museum includes a typical classroom from that era, and special guided tours are available in which the guide acts as a 1930s teacher (Helsinki City Museum, 2019). At the beginning of the class, the museum guide asked the women to dress in aprons and the men in shirts. The “teacher” herself was also dressed in 1930s fashion. The lesson experience included, for instance, the singing of a religious hymn at the beginning, accompanied by an organ played by the teacher, and a fingernail inspection in order to teach good hygiene, the teacher immediately expressing disapproval if participants had long nails or wore nail polish. The participants also practiced writing letters with chalk on chalkboards. Students were expected to be silent and speak only when spoken to. Any kind of disobedience led to punishment.
The lesson was followed by a debriefing, and participants were able to share their thoughts and feelings inspired by the lesson. Interestingly, the participants – both EDIC teachers and students – indicated that the teaching practices were actually not that different from their own childhood school experience in their home countries across Europe and beyond.
2.2.2 Current Educational Practices
In both Tallinn and Helsinki, field trips to local schools were organised. In Tallinn, the field trip was to Peetri Kindergarten/Primary School, which started out as a kindergarten and has since grown into a primary school with almost 700 pupils. The school’s main values and activities are based on Muriel Summers’ school improvement model “Leader in Me”, which incorporates the main outlines of Stephen R. Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Peetri kindergarten-Primary School, 2019). This model is reflected in teachers’ practices, classroom decorations, school website etc. The objectives of the model are simple –develop your life principles, take and bear responsibility, know what you are good at and what are your weak points are, and develop good social and collaborative skills (see Leader in Me, 2019). The class observations were enriched with short conversations with teachers and pupils, followed by a spontaneous panel discussion with the school leaders Luule Niinesalu and leading professor of the EDIC+ Estonian team Eve Eisenschmidt. One of the classes visited was Physical Education, where the IP participants observed pupils learning Estonian national dances. Cultural heritage, folk songs, music, dances and costumes form a very important part of Estonian formal and informal education. Most schools have choirs and dance groups participating in the national Song and Dance festival held every few years. During one of the afternoon sessions at Tallinn University, all the participants of EDIC Tallinn were also invited to learn these Estonian dances. Live music was also provided by an accordion player.
The field trip in Helsinki was to the Helsinki Normal Lyceum (2019), which provides basic education for students between the ages of 13 and 15 (grades 7–9) and upper secondary education for students between the ages of 16 and 18 (years I–III). The Normal Lyceum is also a teacher training school of the University of Helsinki. Every year, a significant number of subject teachers do their teaching practicum at the Normal Lyceum. Student teachers are mentored by the in-service teachers, who are highly educated and experienced, and who can be regarded as exemplars of Finnish teaching with up-to-date knowledge and skills in instruction and in mentoring.
The visits lasted the whole day, and the programme included lectures and roundtables with the EDIC teachers facilitating discussions. During the lectures, participants were given ideas about how and what to observe during the classroom visits. EDIC students were able to choose the subject of the lesson they wished to attend. After lessons, there was time to discuss pedagogical matters with the principal Tapio Lahtero. EDIC students and teachers were able to reflect on what they had seen and heard during the lectures as well as ask questions about the school system and teacher education.
The field trips to Estonian and Finnish schools also included lunch in the school cafeteria with the local pupils. This gave Intensive Programme participants an opportunity to experience one of the main assets and special features of Estonian and Finnish education: every student is provided a warm meal for free (e.g. Tirri & Kuusisto, 2013).
2.2.3 Future of the Schools
The future of the schools – whether schools will be seen as a workplace, a club or a hospital – was discussed with two visionaries from different generations. Professor Ivor Goodson and consultant Marko Rillo represented different generations – baby boomer and generation X, respectively – and were themselves surprised about how similar their views on the future of the school were and how they both emphasised importance of real and meaningful encounters between the students and teachers in both modern and future schools.
During the Intensive Programmes, the aim was to apply multiple teaching and learning methods (see Table 9.1). Traditional lectures held by EDIC teachers and visiting lecturers provided deep insights into education for democratic intercultural citizenship by covering such topics as democratic education, intercultural education, citizenship education, and moral education. Roundtable sessions were small interactive groups where students had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss with one of the EDIC teachers about the topics of his or her lecture. Field trips offered experience-based learning opportunities where participants were able to see, hear, feel, taste, smell and move – in other words, learn with all of their senses, obtain hands-on knowledge and develop emotional connections with the context.
The Intensive Programmes also included tasks (see Table 9.2) that were implemented individually or with a group. Before the Intensive Programme commenced, students were asked to prepare a poster in which every student was to present him/herself and his/her own research interests. For the Tallinn-Helsinki Intensive Programme, students were asked to introduce the educational practices of their own countries with a video or animation, individually or as a group.
Individual and group tasks
Before the IP
– IP Prague
– IP Tallinn-Helsinki
|Goal: With a poster, you present your own study (or your research plan or research interest) relating to your BA/MA/doctoral thesis. The aim is to teach other participants of the EDIC about your interests.|
– Your name, contact information, and photo
– The poster should explain the following aspects of your study: What is the subject of your study? Why, where, how, and who? If you have results: what is the answer to your research question.
– Theoretical framework, research question(s), methods, results or expected results, discussion
– Please include pictures, figures and tables to illustrate your work and interests
– Print the poster on paper (we will hang all posters on the wall)
– Size: A3 (width x height: 297 x 420 mm or 11.7 x 16.5 in)
– Font size: 12 or bigger
– This is an individual task
|Teaching practices in my country|
Before the IP
– IP Tallinn-Helsinki
|Goal: Using a digital tool, you present teaching in your country as you have experienced it. In other words: based on your knowledge, illustrate how teachers teach in your country. You may choose your most meaningful teaching experience. The aim is to teach other participants of EDIC about teaching practices in different countries.|
– Your name and contact information
– Share a short story about teaching practices in your country
– Use a digital tool to present your experience
– Make a script
– Record a short video or make an animation or slide show etc.
– Length of the presentation: 5 minutes
– You may choose to implement this task with students from the same country as a group task, as a pair or individually
During the IP
– IP Prague
– IP Tallinn-Helsinki
|Please write down your thoughts each day for about 10 minutes. The following questions are a guide only, you can add to this. After 10 days, please email this to Ghazala at email@example.com. Thank you. Your replies will be treated confidentially. This has been approved by the ethics committee of Bath Spa University.|
After the IP
– IP Prague
– IP Tallinn-Helsinki
|Goal: By writing an essay, you reflect on your learning experience during EDIC IP.|
– Your name, student ID and contact information
– Answer the following question: How can the things you learned during this EDIC Intensive Programme promote education for democratic intercultural citizenship in your country?
– Material: lectures, field visits, and discussions, course literature
– Minimum of 3 articles referenced
– Add list of references at the end of the essay
– Length: 1– 2 pages (Font size 11 or 12, double spacing)
– APA style in references and list of references (http://www.apastyle.org/learn/tutorials/basics-tutorial.aspx)
– Return your essay to the EDIC teachers from your own country
During the Intensive Programme, students were expected to write in a learning diary every day; if they were willing, they were asked to send their diaries to Ghazala Bhatti from EDIC UK for research purposes. After the Intensive Programme in Prague, students indicated in their feedback that due to the long days, hectic schedule and active social life, they did not have time to reflect and write their diaries. In Tallinn, time was therefore reserved for the learning diary every morning (Table 9.1).
After the Intensive Programme, students were instructed to write a reflective essay in which they considered how the things they had learned during this EDIC Intensive Programme could promote education for democratic intercultural citizenship in their country.
4 Process and Conclusions
This chapter presented two EDIC Intensive Programmes that were held in Prague in 2017 and in Tallinn-Helsinki in 2018. The 10-day programmes included teachers and students from seven European universities and from every continent except Australia. This multinational, multilingual and multicultural context enabled participants to experience and realise in a holistic manner what it means to be and become a democratic intercultural citizen who shares common European and even global values, such as the acceptance of diversity and critical engagement with matters related to the prevention of violent radicalisation, the fostering of social integration, and the enhancement of intercultural understanding, accepting people with different ethnicities, religions, worldviews and sexual orientations. Intensive Programmes also gave teachers the opportunity to collaborate on a face-to-face basis and to ensure that the EDIC modules are developed based on the principles of shared understanding of aims, values and principles.
The Intensive Programmes were received with gratitude and enthusiasm by the participating students. Building relationships and engaging critically with academic discourse made it possible for all students to make the most of the programme. The fact that each lecturer brought something different from a different EDIC module, together with the emphasis on local issues, was appreciated. Roundtables were highly valued because they provided small group discussions with one academic at a time. Students felt that the programme had something for everyone.
In the Prague Intensive Programme, students appreciated the honesty with which the challenges of the Czech society were shared with the students, both in the trips organised outside the university and the issues discussed in class – such as a country coming to terms with its past and “not being at all afraid to discuss it”. In the Tallinn-Helsinki Intensive Programme, the field visits were seen as valuable opportunities to see the education systems of two countries. However, since both of the schools in Tallinn and Helsinki were so-called exemplar schools, some students felt that they had not experienced what “normal” school was like. They would have liked to experience and learn more about the problems the teachers were faced with, for example with special needs children in mainstream classes.
The personal learning process was powerful for the students during the Intensive Programmes. As two students wrote:
It has required a lot of reflection, thinking and planning, but during this EDIC experience I have come up with … a very personal and informal plan. I am a caring person. I try to keep myself up to date with the news and why the world works the way it does, but it is difficult to know what to do except complain, mainly when giving up is not an option. I mean, if as educators we do not believe that change can happen, then we are not building any sort of glimmer of light for our pupils.
I struggle to ask questions when I feel they can be sensitive … being surrounded by these respectful and analytical people, showed me that this is the way to create knowledge. During all lectures I was observing the way my peers where formulating their questions and how they make their points and I think I learnt a lot from them. In a conversation one-to-one with a peer, I was discussing this matter and saying that maybe we were being too critical with the host country, and he replied that part of our ethics as researchers is to be open to criticism and remain as fair as possible when sharing our experiences, and that answer was really significant for me.
Furthermore, although the lectures, roundtables and fieldtrips were instructive, student feedback showed that the most important EDIC lessons were learned through hands-on experiences outside the official programme. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, after parties, seeing the sights, as well as walking from the hotel to the university and back; this unofficial programme was where the EDIC values were actually practised, as the students became acquainted and eventually established friendships with people from backgrounds which they might not ever have encountered before the Intensive Programme. This was felt to be the most educative and valuable lesson of all. Thus, it can be said that true EDIC courses provide opportunities for both formal and informal learning experiences that make a difference in participants’ lives:
For all of us the [EDIC] experience, intellectually and emotionally, was life-changing! We shall keep the inspiration alive and find ways to deepen our knowledge and skills so that we can transform our daily teaching practice making democratic intercultural citizenship an underlying aspect of our teaching.
At the time of writing this chapter, the third intensive program was still to be organized in Thessaloniki in 2019.
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Centrum Obcanskeho Vzdelavani. (2019). Civic Education Centre. Retrieved February 17, 2019, from http://www.obcanskevzdelavani.cz/english-version
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