OER – RADICALISATION PREVENTION PROGRAMME
In recent years, violent extremism and terrorist attacks have surged across Europe and are posing a threat not only to the safety of its citizens but also to its fundamental values of freedom, democracy, equality, respect for the rule of law, human rights and dignity. The alarming developments stand in direct opposition to the vision of a European society characterised by pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and gender equality.
The informal meeting of EU Education Ministers and Commissioner Navracsics adopted in Paris on 17 March 2015 – under the common initiative of France and the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union – the ‘Declaration on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education’ (the so-called Paris Declaration). The Declaration defines common objectives for Member States and urges the EU to ensure the sharing of ideas and good practice with a view to:
Ensure that children and young people acquire social, civic and intercultural competences, by promoting democratic values and fundamental rights, social inclusion and non-discrimination, as well as active citizenship;
Enhance critical thinking and media literacy, particularly in the use of the Internet and social media, so as to develop resistance to all forms of discrimination and indoctrination;
Foster the education of disadvantaged children and young people, by ensuring that our education and training systems address their needs;
Promote intercultural dialogue through all forms of learning in cooperation with other relevant policies and stakeholders.
The Paris Declaration focuses on the teachers’ need to develop new skills & competencies to deal with complex classroom realities & to confidently respond to diversified groups.
Unfortunately, the current Continuing Professional Development (CDP) programmes have been recognised as not always sufficiently relevant to teachers’ needs and challenges they face.
Across Europe, schools have a key role to play in preventing radicalisation by promoting common European values, fostering social inclusion, enhancing mutual understanding & tolerance, and developing students’ critical thinking about controversial and sensitive issues as a key protective factor against radicalisation.
To respond to these needs, the project PRACTICE – Preventing Radicalisation through Critical Thinking Competences (Erasmus + – KA2: Strategic Partnership in the field of school education) wants to innovate CPD approaches whilst responding to relevant need of teaching methods applicable to diverse learners with the aim to prevent radicalisation.
PRACTICE addresses current challenges & needs of preventing radicalisation in school & of supporting opportunities for teachers’ CPD in this area, by developing, testing & disseminating an innovative approach, using participatory methods collaborative process, that involve 7 partner organisations from 6 countries (Italy, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Germany and UK) and 35 schools at local, national & EU level. In 3 years time (September 2018 – August 2021) the project will develop a EU-wide CDP addressed to teachers, focussing on promotion of social, civic & intercultural competences and critical thinking for secondary school students.
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THE RATIONALE OF THE RADICALISATION PREVENTION PROGRAMME
The Radicalisation Prevention Programme is a key product of the project PRACTICE, being the result of work of all the 7 project partners from the above mentioned countries, coordinated by Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo Danilo Dolci.
During the first phase of the project, a desk and primary research has been carried out to map the current situation regarding radicalisation, critical thinking teaching methods, CPD and existing gaps in the partners’ countries as well as the connection between critical thinking and radicalisation prevention in the educational context. Particularly, a field research with interviews and focus groups has been implemented, involving more than 105 teachers, school’s directors, professionals and stakeholders: this action has been crucial to detect and analyse the needs of the educational sector in terms of skills & competencies to be developed in teachers and students in order to prevent radicalisation processes. Moreover, some specific topics and thematic areas have been identified as particularly relevant to be addressed: this will allow to equip teachers with the necessary knowledge and self-confidence to involve students in discussing topical subjects and controversial issues that – without a critical approach – can lead to mislead perspective, polarised positions and extreme views.
The Comparative Research Report, as first intellectual output of the project, allowed project’s partners to identify some specific recommendations to be followed for the development of a Radicalisation Prevention Programme, a training addressed to secondary school teachers, with the scope to prevent radicalisation developing critical thinking competences in students. The current Programme is based on these recommendations.
Objectives of the Radicalisation Prevention Programme
To develop personal critical thinking skills in pupils
To promote critical thinking and effective strategies to engage with pupils on local, national and international issues & grievances
To address effectively controversial issues challenging pupils’ misinformed views and perception
To challenge false myths and stimulate understanding and appreciation of diversities
To provide basic knowledge on radicalism and tools to identify its first signs.
To foster freedom of speech through pupil participation, while ensuring a safe environment for vulnerable pupils and promoting critical evidence analysis.
To promote the values of democracy, active citizenship, pluralistic society, open communication and open mindness
To develop restorative approaches to resolve personal conflict and repair harm caused
THE STRUCTURE OF THE PROGRAMME
The PRACTICE Radicalisation Prevention Programme represents an innovative tool for teachers and educational support staff for strengthening critical thinking skills and resilience of students, discussing controversial issues openly. It wants to support the school sector and the professionals working in it to improve their capacity to exploit the potential of new approaches, methodologies and international perspectives, for the prevention of radicalisation through the development of critical thinking and related skill and competences as well as effective practices and knowledge related to the topic.
It is an Open Educational Resource (OER), guaranteeing flexibility and adaptability to its future users. Through this innovative format, it provides them theoretical contents, strategies, innovative approaches, practice exercises and non-formal education activities.
What is an Open Educational Resource?
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation.
The development of this programme has followed two main guidelines, each one of them taking into consideration two main areas to address in the creation of tools and information to be provided:
The need of the teachers to understand the factors behind the phenomenon of radicalisation processes; the protective and vulnerability factors at the origin of them; the competences, values and skills to be developed in students to be resilient to these processes; the methods and approaches that can enable them to support their students in the development of critical thinking skills.
The need of teachers to be better equipped to address controversial and topical issues with students, supporting them in openly expressing and exchange opinions and ideas, challenging misconception, misinformed views and false myths, in order to avoid polarised and extreme positions that can lead to radicalisation processes.
In order to meet these two areas of needs, the current programme has been developed in two main parts, besides an introduction session with the theoretical background laying underneath the whole product.
Part 1 includes an introduction to the concept of Radicalisation, together with theoretical aspects as well as strategies and methods to develop 6 main areas related to Critical Thinking Skills.
In fact, in order to be a critical thinker it is not only necessary to rationally approach facts and text, and to sharpen the capacity of analysis of logical connections between words and events. It is also necessary to have an open mind and to be prepared to deal with the plurality of our world in a respectful and inclusive way; to approach consciously the sources and means of information especially online; to learn how to effectively communicate and how to manage conflictual situations, peacefully restore them.
For these reasons, Part 1 is focussed on the following learning areas:
- Critical Thinking
- Digital Awareness
- Active Listening and Open Communication
- Open Mindedness and Creative Thinking
- Intercultural Awareness
- Conflict Resolution
Each module included in part 1 is divided in different sections:
- WHAT? — Introduction to the general topic
- HOW? — How to develop the considered learning area, with approaches, methods, strategies addressed to teachers
- Supporting Materials — Exercises, Insights, Articles and other reading suggestions for deepening the topic
- Challenges and tips for implementation in different classrooms contexts
- Tips for applying the methods to different subjects
Part 2 includes a catalogue of more than 50 non-formal education activities that teachers can use directly in the classroom to address controversial issues upon which students can have misinformed views and polarised positions. This part wants to equip teachers with practical means to stimulate and moderate exchange of opinions and critical analysis of ideas and perspectives upon delicate topics, making the classroom a safe space for discussing in an open and democratic way. Teaching controversial issues, teachers set the goal of reducing individual prejudices and at the same time building a more tolerant society, through challenging student’s misconceptions, making them more resilient towards radicalisation processes.
Non-formal education is an innovative and powerful tool to strengthen students’ competences: it is flexible and adaptable enough to be used in almost any context and subject at school, guaranteeing the involvement of all students, engaging them in attractive and cooperative learning.
The topics covered by the Part 2 of this prevention programme have been selected according to the needs expressed by teachers during the research phase. This second part is structured as follows: a) an introduction module proposing a number of practical ways for stimulating open discussions and exchange of ideas adaptable to any controversial issue that potentially could arise in class, or be perceived by teacher as “hot topic” to be addressed in a controlled and moderated way with students; b) 6 thematic modules going in depth in the analysis of specific topical issues, that are:
- Culture and Identities
- Online Life, Hate speech and Cyberbullying
- Discrimination and Rights
- Global Conflicts and Human Rights
Each module included in part 2 is divided in different sections:
- Learning Objectives
- Theoretical and Contextual Background
- Description step by step of the Non Formal Education(NFE) activities
- Supporting materials and bibliography
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Coordinator – Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo Danilo Dolci – Italy