EFIL’s Head of Advocacy Elisa Briga attended the conference ‘Strengthening Common European Values through education’ in Brussels on 22 November. The event was organised by NESET II, namely the Network of Experts working on the Social Dimension of Education and Training. This network serves as are source for policy makers and practitioners and they have been publishing very interesting research.

The conference addressed the topic which is a the centre of the Council recommendation on promoting common values which has been adopted in May. The keynote speaker Prof. Gert Biesta talked about ‘Teaching (un)common values, education, democracy and the future of Europe‘ and explained how talking about common values already creates a barrier, namely a community that shares the same values, and the others. He talked about how being a good citizen, namely highly participative, integrated in a community and responsible, does not mean automatically that the citizen is democratic and oriented towards freedom, equality and solidarity. Therefore citizenship and democracy are not synonyms, and we need to nurture democracy through education in order to ensure that citizens embrance democratic values. In democracy, plurality is desirable, but not all pluralities: diverse opinions can be accepted only when these are informed by very specific (democratic) values. Democracy is therefore the transformation of what is desired by individuals/groups into what can be desirable at collective level. Therefore the key message of citizenship education is ‘you cannot always get what you want’ and we need to help young people in learning an internalising self-restraint: democracy requires and interruption of identity and learn to exist with the world, namely being in the world without putting yourself in the centre of the world.

The intercultural learning within this dimension of democratic values still needs to be explored, and we are glad that the Forum on Intercultural Learning and Exchange will explore this topic in its 2019 edition.

Here you can access all presentations of the conference.

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