Teaching and learning about Europe at a secondary school in Maastricht
Pupils from the third year (14-15 years) of the Porta Mosana College in Maastricht were involved in this project. Their school takes part in the Dutch-based European programme of ELOS. ELOS aims at creating a European learning environment inside schools and hence giving a European dimension to education. You can learn more about it at www.elos.europeesplatform.nl
In the third year, we integrate to the curriculum some tasks for the pupils in order to increase their knowledge about Europe and to stimulate their feeling of belonging to Europe. In this text, I would like to describe in more details how it is done.
E-mail exchange in foreign languages and history lessons
All pupils are involved in an e-mail project with pupils from a foreign partner school. There are three e-mail projects in different languages: English, French and German. The project is always in a language that is not mother tongue for the participating pupils, as we want both partners to be equal concerning their knowledge of the language used. The project consists of six letters, in which following topics are described: introducing yourself, your own family and lifestyle, your own city/village, country, school, hobbies, and finally some thoughts about Europe. The letters count as an exercise for foreign languages and are marked by the teachers. As a model for the e-mail projects, we use The Image of the Other. If you go to its site http://www.europeanschoolsproject.org/image, you will see that the project is available in other languages as well. Unfortunately, it is not free of charge for the German version.
During history lessons, the letter with thoughts about Europe is used as a starting point for discussions and is also a basis for evaluation. Some parts of the book “Uniting the European family” (ISBN 90-74220-43-6) by author Wolter Blankert (Europees Platform Nederland, www.europeesplatform.nl ) are used for their discussions about Europe as well. To see political Europe in action, they visit Brussels and the building of the European parliament.
Cross-curricular approach to teaching European citizenship
During one of the two project weeks pupils are engaged for three days in a project on one of the countries of the European Union. The result is a presentation of the country by e.g. Powerpoint, posters, preparing typical dishes. This project involves more subjects and thus it is evaluated by several teachers (foreign language, Dutch, history, geography, society, arts).