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Changing Geographical Understandings of Europe amongst 10-year-old Greek-Cypriot Pupils: A Study of the Impact of a Primary School Curricular Intervention.

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Presentation on theme: "Changing Geographical Understandings of Europe amongst 10-year-old Greek-Cypriot Pupils: A Study of the Impact of a Primary School Curricular Intervention."— Presentation transcript:

1 Changing Geographical Understandings of Europe amongst 10-year-old Greek-Cypriot Pupils: A Study of the Impact of a Primary School Curricular Intervention Stavroula Philippou Assistant Professor (Curriculum Studies) Department of Education Sciences Cyprus College

2 Europe and education: the political context European enlargement, integration, constitution: discussion and debate Europe invites complexity, as it has been defined from various perspectives (geographical, political, cultural, religious, economic etc) at different historical periods EUs and Council of Europes educational policy aim: constructing a European identity and citizenship amongst young people though education: key role for Geography, History and Languages

3 Questions How are these concepts understood by children and what kind of geographical understandings does or could education contribute towards? More importantly, how do geographical understandings of Europe relate to childrens adherence to a European identity, an identity which the EU and the Council of Europe have increasingly sought to develop through their educational policy?

4 Childrens development of geographical understandings Scarcity of research into geography as a subject-area (Biddulph & Adey, 2003) or into childrens geographical understandings of other countries (Barrett & Farroni, 1996; Barrett, 2005) Early research (Piaget & Weil, 1951) and critique (Jahoda, 1964) Descriptive and a-theoretical research until 1970s focusing on attitudes rather than knowledge Resurgence after 1990s as geographical knowledge of own, other countries & Europe are included in definitions of national and European identities (Barrett, 2005) Exploration of relation between geographical knowledge and adherence to national and European identities (Barrett, 1996; Barrett & Whennell, 1998; Barrett, 2005)

5 The curricular intervention in Geography Europe as content in 5 th Grade (10-year-olds) Geography at Greek-Cypriot primary school national curriculum Single-textbook policy: critiqued as factual-based (Kadis, 1999); encyclopedic & utilitarian approach to Europe (Philippou, 2004; 2007) Intervention: critical and constructivist approach to Europe (Philippou, 2005) Europe and EU as changing, multiple and diverse through exploration of geomorphology, frontiers, ecology, economy, culture, colonisation and stereotypes Europe as a resource rather than a fortress, as a tool to reflect on identity Interdependency with rest of the world Pedagogy: critical study of multiple sources and maps, the construction of concepts and collaborative work.

6 Research Design Research strategies Case-study and Curriculum development Action-research and Quasi-experiment (December-June 2000-2001) Sampling 4 schools (2 semi-urban, 2 rural) and 8 teachers (opportunistic) 140 pupils Greek-Cypriot 10-year-old pupils (63 exp. & 77 control) Research instruments Pre and post (tests, individual and focus group interviews of pupils) Items investigating self-categorisation, degree of importance and relative subjective importance of national and European identities Items investigating geographical understandings of Europe: Representations of Europe and the EU Configurational knowledge (of the spatial relationships which exist between different landmarks in terms of the direction and distance between them) of Europe (map of world and Europe) Landmark knowledge (that specific spatio-geographic locations exist) of Europe and EU Geographical understandings of Cyprus in relation to Europe/EU Geographical understandings of Europe in relation to world Data analysis Atlas.ti SPSS.10

7 Findings: Childrens representations of Europe & EU

8 Representations of Europe & EU Pre Europe=EU: emphasis on economic aspects Misconceptions: Europe as a city, country, state, continent (difficulties with spatial inclusion) Cyprus in Europe: cultural affinities-Greek Cyprus not European because not in EU yet Turkey not in Europe: Asia Post Distinction between Europe & EU: continent vs 15 countries Europe: neighbours but not united like EU EU: peace, cooperation, help, economy (euro), criteria of entrance, democracy, human rights Cyprus European but more so when in EU (economy-political problem) Turkey: only one part European geographically-BUT can change

9 Configurational knowledge: location of Europe in world

10 Findings: Configurational knowledge

11 Landmark knowledge: countries of Europe

12 Landmark knowledge of EU

13 Cyprus and Europe Pre European identity as a threat to national Non-European because of geography (proximity to Asia) Postponed to future (EU) Rarely accepted and only due to Greekness Post Cyprus =European due to geography: Mediterranean, not Greece Political and economic advantages greater adherence to a European identity in self- categorisation item BUT

14 Degree of identification with European identity

15 Relative subjective importance of European identity (1-12)

16 Europe and the world Test: European countries treated the colonies in a nice way Europe as one of the most developed continents=example for imitation Vs Being critical of role of Europe, colonisation and economic progress- link with EU-Third World countries

17 Discussion Curriculum implications Possibility of constructing Europes frontiers as arbitrary, constructed, changing and multiple Suitability of the primary school context despite single-textbook and national curriculum policies Space for action research-role of teachers

18 Discussion Pupil identities and education Social constructivist argument to support role of school and teacher (Axia et al., 1998; Harrington, 1998) Conceptual changes in understandings of Europe as an indicator of impact of intervention: enriched with EU discourse and geography Two opposite constructions of Europe/EU Link to European identity: further adherence but no link to geogr. knowledge: is it a matter of what kind of knowledge-representations?

19 Discussion Limitations short period of implementation-difficulties of research (11.42% of total school hours) Europe as a small part of intervention/evaluation Use of standard-syllabus for intervention non-generalisable to GC pupils: insights Future research Temporal dimension: which changes in understandings of Europe at different ages and periods? Spatial dimension: comparisons with TC pupils and other European pupils (Barrett & Farroni, 1996; Axia et al., 1998)

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