Context and Needs
On June 18, 2013, UNESCO recognised León’s “Decreta” [es] of the year 1188 as the most ancient reference to a European parliamentary system, including them in the Memory of the World register because of their uniqueness and extraordinary value. These documents ensured the participation of the common people in general decision making, and, by extension, can be considered as the origin of modern parliamentary democracy, recognising León as “Cradle of Parliamentarism”. IES Legio VII would like to pay tribute to this sample of European heritage by using León’s “Decreta” as a symbolic starting point to develop “DeCRIT” project.
But DEMOCRACY has evolved. It is something that we usually take for granted, as though it were just an unnoticed, all-embracing shelter where citizens find refuge. Within this present-day European society, however, confronting views on education, politics, immigration, technology, freedom of speech or climate change pose a challenge for European democracy, which makes it crucial for citizens to develop specific competences, as well as mental and attitudinal strategies, in order to think and act in a more critical way, thus achieving an increasingly healthier democracy.
This need was attested by DeCRIT members in the coordinating institution (IES Legio VII, León), who performed a NEEDS ANALYSIS within the school community (surveys for around 300 students and 40 teachers) showing that there is a profound lack of reasoning, debating and interpersonal skills among our secondary students, as well as a disturbing incapacity to express themselves with accurate, creative and respectful language. DeCRIT is based on this need to encourage Critical Thinking among students and young people in general, understanding it as a nuclear strategy or meta-competence required to encourage personal development, foster social inclusion and enhance the acquisition of other specific transversal skills required for DEMOCRATIC ENGAGEMENTand ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP.
Objectives and Target Groups
The above mentioned need involves two specific actions and target groups concerning school education:
1) providing TEACHERS and educators with the appropriate skills to innovatively use critical thinking as a cross-curricular training strategy in their daily activity.
2) providing STUDENTS and young people with the appropriate skills to use critical thinking as an essential life competence within the framework of INNOVATIVE LEARNING METHODS.
With respect to this two-fold action, the specific OBJECTIVES addressed through DeCRIT will be to provide trainers and students with the abilities to:
- develop democratic attitudes within the context of civil society.
- actively use critical thinking in decision-making processes.
- research on and be aware of the existing views on democracy by European citizens from different countries and backgrounds.
- promote social inclusion in all aspects of life.
- differentiate between beneficial and detrimental actions, being fully aware of their consequences.
- show empathy, tolerance and respect towards other people’s views, avoiding discrimination and segregation.
- know how to critically analyse contrasting views in order to form one’s own opinion.
- differentiate between reliable and unreliable information, using smart technologies and social media wisely and safely.
- raise awareness on the need to reduce our environmental footprint, reflecting on the specific ways to develop a sustainable lifestyle.
- raise awareness on the need to use innovative teaching-learning methods to foster students’ acquisition of competences, motivation and social integration.
- create innovative training materials which help foster critical democracy in educational contexts. (IO1)
- develop an open-access e-learning platform to show and implement critical thinking skills in alternative teaching-learning processes. (IO2)