|What could a European dimension of
possibly mean for other Europeans and for the Greek people ?
What contribution do these people have to education ?
EDUVINET meeting presentation by
C. Minos and
Dr. T. Karayannis of
Volos, GREECE, 1997
Contribution to the EDUVINET "Living Conditions of EU Citizen" subject
The ancient Greek wise man Aristotle considered education a concern of the state. He wrote: ,,all societies have been with the expectation to provide some good to their members, since all human beings, in everything they do, they do it with only one motive, the expectation of this good".
Today, in order to reach the same economic and political aims, the European Community has begun to seek a corresponding European dimension in education with the aim to create a European consciousness, as a cohesive element for hundreds of million residents of Europe.
For us, the Greek people, the following questions arise immediately from this issue:
So, what are the origins of the European Community?
Immediately after the last World War, the picture of horror led to the
search for ways to a peaceful coexistence, in order to avert any new
return of such horrors.
The exaggeration of the negative had led the most sensitive of people to search for new cures.
During the decades that followed, the basic problems to be dealt with by the European countries within the E.U. became more and more obvious. Their efforts to survive in a constantly changing world where the industrial technological competition from Japan and USA, was inexorable.
Every conference and summit grapples with emergency economic and social problems concerning the member states, and settlements are written for the common good. It is obvious that the European Community has mainly an economic base and only in the last years has it been broadened generally, especially after Maastricht.
Apart from the EU decree of targetaims, there exists the question:
the forms of cooperation which have been adapted in the past, especially in the manner of their creation of a common consciousness in education, have led to the development of feelings of unity, friendship, mutual understanding and solidarity.
Our position is that the meaning of a common European identity presupposes that this identity cannot exist without socialisation and a sense of fraternisation amongst the people of Europe.
From results taken by students who have participated in European exchanges we notice the first positive response concerning the exchange programme coming from the schools of all the memberstates. However, in them we may observe a hesitance, a lack of coordination of efforts, a lack of information on the subject of materialising this European identity.
The idea of a European identity and consciousness is automatically acceptable but it is in danger of remaining in a vacuum if it does not include in its core the basic values of real unity, surpassing the compatible unity.
The idea of a European consciousness and identity needs to focus to on ways of realisation. We suggest that the values of the Community understanding and solidarity be at the heart of a common effort, not only because they express a human vision but because these values can be a part of an insurance policy and of the development of the Community itself.
Such a humanistic aim for a Europe of values, can work and be successful through education. Here, we are not talking about knowledge and about reaming objectives, but about the development of feelings, of respect, mutual acceptance and confraternity. It is not that we are romantic, rather, we believe it is becoming more and more obvious that these values are necessary rules for our common existence.
But what is European consciousnessidentity?
To begin with, there exists the conviction that we inherit a most ancient civilisation begun and developed in the same continent which we share. Furthermore, exists the important perception that the several national languages have developed from a common IndoEuropean lingual root, which means that many words are the same in these socalled ,,European" languages.
As a result, the common identity of our European descent increases the feeling of solidarity among the European people.
Furthermore, the universality we share today is one concrete reason why we should consider our national consciousness too ,,small", too "limited", also, therefore, a reason to proceed to create a European consciousness perhaps even on a worldwide level.
How can we effect this European identity?
With the aim of coordinating a ,,European dimension", some essential interventions in the education system can be applied:
Awareness of the European heritage comes through education, becomes more and more understandable in work through training, with the result that young people reach a better understanding of their economic and social environment. This heritage is then carried forward by the young people as they proceed to the workplace.
The other elements for the conformation of European consciousness (learning of languages and the common cultural inheritance) are not so easily effected. Other factors, such as national consciousness, classic, professionalcorporate, for example, intervene.
When for example someone refers to his ,,national identity", he means that:
In other words the expression of a national, class (generally collective) consciousness conveys mutual feelings of understanding, devotion, sympathy and acceptance of common values, which unite the person with the group and with its every member. Should these mutual feelings be absent within the group, its cooperation and alliances are greatly weakened.
The common cultural inheritance as a conformative element of consciousness is being repulsed mainly by the strong members as we can observe in the results of the conferences on the teaching of history in Brugges of Belgium in 1991 and in Leeuwarden in 1993.
What shall we do?
Considering the abovementioned points, I think there are two evident conclusions:
What do we suggest?
In general, we should put into action the principle Socrates taught when he spoke of experts:
,, We should trust experts. When you have an illness of body you should visit the doctor, when you have an illness of mind, the appropriate one to cure you is the most profound expert on the subject, the teacher".
We propose to create a: Diagram of European History for all Europeans:
Subjects to be contained in such a booklet:
K. Voros; The meaning of a European dimension of education?
P. Pigaki: Values of Community understanding and solidarity in the school program for the European identity.