Advancing Democratic Education: Key Takeaways from the 2-Day Transnational DEMOCRAT Workshop in Dublin

Overview of the Transnational DEMOCRAT Workshop

The recent Transnational DEMOCRAT Workshop, hosted at Dublin City University (DCU) from June 6-7, 2024, aimed to enhance democratic education across Europe by bringing together educators, researchers, and policymakers to discuss and refine strategies for promoting democracy through education. This workshop, funded by the European Union’s HORIZON-CSA HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions under Grant Agreement No. 101095106, showcased innovative approaches and fostered collaborative efforts to enhance democratic competencies in educational settings.

Day 1 Recap: Thursday, June 6

Innovative Sessions on Democratic Education

The first day was packed with sessions focused on advancing democratic education through various innovative approaches. The event commenced with a warm welcome address by Professor Charlotte Holland, Deputy Dean of DCU’s Institute of Education. Following this, the Irish team laid out the day’s agenda, ensuring participants were well-prepared for the collaborative sessions ahead.

The morning was structured into three parallel group sessions, each focusing on different aspects of democratic education:

Group 1: Teacher Training and Environmental Education

  • Teacher Training: Emma Kostiainen, Saara Tujula, and Matti Rautiainen from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, discussed innovative methods in teacher training.
  • No Democracy Without…: Piotr Walda presented on the fundamental elements necessary for democracy.
  • Environmental Delegates: Joan Martorell Masó from UB & Notus in Spain emphasized the role of environmental education in fostering democratic values.
  • Education that Supports Democracy: A video presentation by Tallinn University, Estonia, showcased diverse perspectives on integrating democratic principles in education.

Group 2: Literacy and Human Rights in Education

  • Read Right – Read Rights: Claudia Soler Laborda from UB & Notus in Spain highlighted literacy as a cornerstone of democratic engagement.
  • Human Rights and Democracy: Olga Klotz presented on the intersection of human rights education and democratic participation.
  • And the Story is…: Graham Carroll and the Irish team discussed narrative techniques in teaching democracy.
  • Project-Based Learning Example from Estonia: Maarja Hallik from Tallinn University shared a practical example of project-based learning that supports democratic education.

Group 3: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Democracy

  • Interdisciplinary Project KAOS: Gemma Saladrigues Roselló from UB & Notus in Spain explored interdisciplinary approaches to democracy education.
  • School Participatory Budgeting: Anna Dela discussed how participatory budgeting in schools can teach democratic processes.
  • Empathy in Action: Derek Cleary and the Irish team presented on the importance of empathy in democratic education.
  • Opinion Line: Maarit Jõemägi from Tallinn University introduced a platform for student opinions and democratic engagement.
Participants engaging in the Transnational DEMOCRAT Workshop focused on democratic education

Afternoon Activities: Enhancing Democratic Education Projects

The afternoon was dedicated to refining projects that promote democratic education. After a refreshing coffee break, participants reconvened in their parallel groups to fine-tune their projects. This session allowed for deeper discussions and refinement of ideas, ensuring that each project was well-developed and ready for presentation.

Project Showcases and Feedback

Participants presented their projects aimed at fostering democratic education. Post-lunch, each group’s lead or spokesperson presented their refined projects to the entire workshop. These presentations were divided into two sessions, with feedback from rapporteurs enhancing the collaborative process.

  • First Session: The first six projects were presented and discussed.
  • Second Session: The remaining projects were shared, followed by a feedback session.

Keynote Insights on Democratic Education

Keynote speakers emphasized the importance of integrating democratic education in schools. The day concluded with insightful discussions led by Dr. Aidan Clifford, who related the projects to the Council of Europe’s Framework of Democratic Competences. This was followed by a talk from Professor Amelia Lopes, an international advisor to the DEMOCRAT project, who shared her expertise on civic education and educational reform in Portugal.

DCU All Hallows Campus Purcel House, a key location for the Transnational DEMOCRAT Workshop on democratic education

Evening Networking and Social Events

Participants had the opportunity to unwind and network further during a voluntary dinner at a local restaurant, followed by social drinks at a nearby pub.

Future Outlook

The Transnational DEMOCRAT Workshop in Dublin provided a rich platform for exchange and collaboration. It underscored the importance of integrating democratic principles into education and showcased a variety of innovative approaches from across Europe. As the projects continue to evolve, they hold the promise of fostering more democratic, inclusive, and engaged communities.

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3 responses to “Advancing Democratic Education: Key Takeaways from the 2-Day Transnational DEMOCRAT Workshop in Dublin”

  1. Eva Gaudes Clarasó Avatar
    Eva Gaudes Clarasó

    KEY to Democracy Education

    First of all let me introduce myself, My name is Eva and I’m a teacher of History at Secondary School “Montserrat Roig” in the city of Terrassa. I teach Art History, Contemporary World History and an optional subject, to sixteen and seventeen-year-old Students. The subject is called “Citizenship, Politics and Law”

    My motto is “Think globally and act locally”. I think it is necessary to discover your personal identity (cultural, sexual, ….) by looking at the past. So, the aim is to love diversity to promote equality.

    The optional course of “Citizenship, Politics and Law” is developed in a democratic paradigm. The course is aimed at developing competence in citizenship, this means educating responsible, collaborative citizens in the society where they live. The methodology I use is diverse as you can see in this slide. My goal is to help students experience democracy in the classroom.

    To achieve this goal students must put into practice little experiences which allow them to live certain aspects of democracy. Each teacher of this course can display the contents freely and I personally have focused in DECISION MAKING. It is important that they learn to exercise active listening, and take responsibility for their own decisions. In the classroom I assign, in a rotational way different roles to students, and foster dialogue to reach consensus. I promote a collaborative culture in a multilevel class, where all students must succeed. Students become the protagonists of their own learning and through the assessment process they become aware of their personal growth.

    Concerning Macro activities, we study the evolution of power along human history, positive and negative roles of citizens, the importance of the Human Rights Statement, the present Restorative Justice and the International Peace Movement

    We find ourselves in the post-truth society and it is a priority to teach students to recognise fake news and how harmful they may be for them. So I propose this method based on active listening in order to build up their own opinion.

    Let’s move on now to the activities outside the school, I think it is fundamental to instruct students to recognise the values of the European Union and explain the importance of subsidiarity and what the European Union can offer to Young people. If this is not explained within the classroom, students will not understand what the EU is or will never feel European. Additionally, I am undertaking some research on the feeling of belonging to the UE that teenagers have.

    What I am showing in this slide refers to The Institution “Democratic Memorial of Catalonia” which organizes training activities for teaching staff, and it has a working group called Di-I-Em-Di, in which I am included, who prepare the educational activities . Every year we develop the International Day of Homage to the Holocaust Victims following the instructions of the Memorial Holocaust Trust. Last 27th January the World motto was “Fragility of Freedom”. Some educational centers worked on a character who fought for people’s freedom. For instance, my students chose Josephine Baker and they researched how she fought against the 10 steps to Genocide and on the 27th January in the town of Flix took place the inauguration of a graffiti mural with all the characters that were studied in Catalonia. Here we can see another image in the Historical Archive of Terrassa with the historian Manel Marquez, expert in the study of the tragic floods that took place in Terrassa in nineteen sixty-two. My students researched using the original sources of information of that relevant event.

    I am also member of the Organization “Memory and Democratic Values Space” from Terrassa. We have promoted the International project of ”Stopelsteine” to make visible more than seventy deported to the Nazi concentration camps.

    Let me refer to some future activities we are planning outside the school, too.

    Next May we will go to the International Act of Remembrance of the people liberated in the Mauthausen camp. This trip will be done with the descendants of the deported people in Mauthausen. In fact, these students have compromised with the Amical Mauthausen Non-profit Organization , so that, in return, these students will give talks about what they have learnt in the trip to all the members of the network of Young students “Mai Més” which is translated as “Never Again”.

    In my opinion, Democracy is learnt by participating, and the activities in the classroom cannot just stay within the classroom, they must be moved outside at a city level. It would be desirable that students learn through dialogue to live democracy, deconstructing fake news and checking information in search of the Truth-

    Historical memory teaches us that in the respect to diversity lies the essence of democracy. Therefore, students must interact with people who are different from them and value interculturality as a richness. They must generate knowledge and serve the city associations. In the case of Spain it is important to remember the long process of transition to democracy, the difficulties to implement the Historical Memory Law which was passed in the Parliament. It is absolutely necessary to protect minority groups, such as EL-Gi-Bi-Ti-Qiu-Plas, female harassment, child or elderly poverty, Rom groups or religious groups, because democracy is the government for all of them, not just for one unique idea.

    – Respect for different opinions
    – Assess for variety of opinions and contrast truthfulness
    – Accept minorities and highlight their value
    – Bring to the classroom different Associations and approaches
    – Get out of the classroom and get involved in projects of Learning Service
    – Build city networks of educational interaction
    – Commitment, responsibility, roles assumption in city actions
    – City project for Historical Memory education

  2. Gemma Saladrigues Avatar
    Gemma Saladrigues

    Hello everybody,
    I am Gemma Saladrigues, from El Carme school. I attended the Transnational workshop in Dublin where I presented the project KAOS. I am giving a brief comment of it.
    On the one hand, I would like to congratulate all the organisation team from the University of Dublin. The programme was well-structured, and all the activities were carried out successfully. The professors in charge of the meeting offered help to the assistants any time, and they solved the doubts we had. The organisation of the workshop had an innovative structure, where first, all the members of the different educational institutions could present their projects in a small group, and then, the assistants could comment on the different presentations. This enabled all of us to give our opinion, analyse the weaknesses of the projects and think of improvements for them. A lot of ideas were generated in this session.
    On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that the transnational workshop strongly enriched the DEMOCRAT project. Education for democracy was the key topic of the participants’ discussion during all the meeting and fruitful ideas and proposals were obtained from the institutions presenting their projects and the comments made among the participants. Some of the topics discussed were related to the assessment of the democratic values, how to deal with empathy, the motivation required to do these projects, how to involve families and the educational context, etc. The session boosted the project.
    Finally, I would like to thank the organisation team to have given me the opportunity to participate in this project. It was very enriching for me to present a project done in the school and to have obtained amazing feedback from all the participants. I enjoyed being part of the workshop and being able to comment on the different democratic proposals for the DEMOCRAT project.
    I really hope that the project can create a profitable curriculum for Education for Democracy for the European educational institutions. This could be the key to transform our societies.

  3. email temp Avatar

    Your blog is a breath of fresh air in the often mundane world of online content. Your unique perspective and engaging writing style never fail to leave a lasting impression. Thank you for sharing your insights with us.

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