“In my opinion it is worth to do projects like this. I want to give my students the opportunity to get to know that the solution is to work together and not to build a fence or a wall around your country”

The European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students, better known by the acronym ERASMUS, is a program wanted since 1987 by the European Union and aimed at promoting awareness of students through their mobility in Europe.

Since 2014, it called the name slightly, becoming “Erasmus +”. The latter is split up into two different types of mobility: mobility for the purpose of study (code KA1: “Individual mode for learning purposes”) and mobility for the purpose of traineeship (symbol KA2: “Cooperation for innovation and good practices “).

Recently, I got the privilege to follow closely the “studio per tirocinio” (this is the meaning of traineeship) of the students of the Lyceum “Nuzzi” of Andria, which were for a week in Hungary, along with their German and Dutch peers, all guests of Hungarian students of the Berzsenyi Dániel Gimnázium of Celldömölk.img_9727

On this occasion I was able to interview the professor Werner Müller, coordinator of this project significantly called “Spirit of Europe”. The interview took place in English: here the italian text.

Your profile, please.

My name is Werner Müller and I’m a teacher of math, physics, computer science and pedagogy of media at the Gymnasium Wertingen, a secondary school in Southern Germany. (http://www.gymnasium-wertingen.de). In the last years I’m working a lot on implementing e-learning in my lessons. Working with these tools gives you the opportunity to collaborate in an easy way with other people all over the world. And so I started again with European School Projects like Comenius and now Erasmus+, using these tools. In this project the Gymnasium Wertingen is the coordinating school and I’m the coordinator.img_9733

Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy: “Spirit of Europe”, a project for students and teachers from 4 different nations. Why?

If you believe the politicians and the media you can say that Europe seems to be in a crisis. Everyday you can read about countries that want to leave the EU, about refugees and about financial problems, that citizens of one country must accept financial responsibility for other countries. Some politicians tell us that the solution is to leave the EU, like the United Kingdom. If we put all the foreigners out, everything will be fine in our own country.img_9731

On the other hand the EU is, even today, very attractive for other countries, who want to enter the EU. So where lies the attractiveness of the European Union?

That’s the reason, why we started this project. We want to give the students a realistic view of Europe and the European Union. Therefore we want to go back to the roots and examine the original intentions of the European Union. The question is: Why and how has the European Union come into being? What were the aims? Why did those countries enter the European Union? And we want to turn our attention to the future. How do we imagine a European Union in the future? What are our ideas and expectations?

To us it seems vitally important in this context that our pupils get to know the views of other countries first hand by travelling there and that they see the differences to the news in the media and that they question their own position within this context. Therefore we plan to have discussions with people from the local administration, with people responsible for European projects and with members of the European parliament. img_9982-18-12-48Here the pupils can express their expectations as far as the EU is concerned and they will get first hand information. Apart from that we expect them to get a better understanding of the problems of the others and to become more open and tolerant. This is a point which we consider of great importance for the future of the European Union.

How did the idea of working together come?

The German and the Italian scholl worked together in a Comenius-Project about the life of the young people in digital worlds. During the meetings, the Headmaster of the Italian school developed the idea, to start a new projekt about the spirit of Europe. Then we started to look for new partners, that are able to put some new experiences to the topic of the project. The Italian school knows the Dutch school from former projects, and the German school knows the Hungarian one. So we started this Project with these four schools.img_0041

How many students are involved in the project?

During the period of two years in every schools two classes are working in the project, so that about 200 students are involved in the work.

And how many teachers?

About 20 teachers during the two years.img_9958

What is the goal to be achieved?

There are some goals.

First the pupils are supposed to get to know the aims of the European idea and then shall be able to judge for themselves what effects the membership in the EU has for their own country, their region and for themselves.img_9964

Furthermore in this project the pupils will get to know the great variety of Europe and European culture and come to a great open-mindedness towards other ideas. This can also lead to a more active EU-citizenship among the young people.

Then we want to create materials about the topics, we have discussed during the Project and published it as OER (Open Educational Resources).

For the collaboration we are using a virtual room. So the students and teachers will get some experience in this new way of collaboration, which might be very important for them in the future.img_9959

Who is funding the project and how much does it cost?

The Project is funded by the European Union and is part of the Erasmus+, a program for education, training, youth and sport. Spirit of Europe is a Erasmus+ KA2 – Strategic Partnership for Schools only.

Every school gets about 20 000 € for the project work. This is to support it. We also use the infrastructure of the schools and the enthusiasm of the teachers to be successful.

Is it worth doing that?

For me, the answer is yes. I think this is a very important aspect and chance for our students to become European. If you look in European history, more or less every thirty years we had had a war. Europe was a very militant continent. Today it’s the first time, that we have a period of 70 years without war. The biggest chance to live in peace is to get to know the people from other countries personally, to know how they live and how they think.

And even if you look at the right wing politicians in Europe, I think it’s very important to know the point of view in other countries about some specific topics. This will widen your own view on these topics and may be you will learn that the solution is to work together and not to build a fence or a wall around your country. I want to give my students the opportunity to get to know this. And I think every effort is worth to do, if we can show this to our students.img_9936

The project also gives the teachers to have a look in the school system of other countries, so that they can get a deeper view at the advantages and disadvantages of their own school and they can get a new experience, using virtual rooms.

In my opinion it is worth to do projects like this, because there are a lot of aspects that can only be achieved with these kind of projects. And so every Erasmus+ – Project is worth to do it.img_0051


Il testo dell’intervista in italiano.

FontePaolo Farina
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