Rethinking Citizenship Education.
A Collection of Voices
Content of this page
Rethinking Citizenship Education.
A Collection of Voices
It was winter 2021 when we came together and decided: “We need a new handbook about facilitation.” The world had changed so much during the pandemic and related lockdowns. It affected the way we meet, exchange, and learn together. However, the need for citizenship education and critical thinking remained and it had become even more crucial in these times of precarious uncertainty. How could our citizenship education practices be improved in the (post-) Covid world? How could we reach out to and include more people in our efforts, no matter their social strata, geographical location, or educational background? In what way could we combine our facilitation and learning practices with digitalization innovations, while at the same time easing ourselves and our learners back into the offline spaces? These were some of the topics we originally wanted to address in our new facilitation handbook.
It was spring 2022 when we came together once more to revisit the idea: “Is our new facilitation handbook still needed?” The world had changed even more, this time due to the outbreak of a full-scale war in Europe that beggared our belief. All of us were involved in multiple urgent support actions — collecting donations, welcoming refugees, sending goods, equipping shelters, and rescuing art. With all of that going on, putting citizenship education under an analytical lens seemed nonessential. However, the more we continued debating the topic, the clearer it became that the need for an overarching discussion about citizenship education and facilitation never dissipated. If anything, it evolved to include the following dilemmas: Can we ensure the neutrality of the facilitator, given the increasing number of polarizing topics and issues? Is it ethical to be neutral in discussions that cut to the core of human rights and European values? How do we nurture awareness and sensitivity in addressing trauma, both individual and collective, that is likely to increase owing to the war? How do we, as facilitators, care for the wellbeing of the group while not forgetting to be mindful of the need to nurture our resilience? How should we balance offline and online facilitation now that the world has transformed because of multiple lockdowns?
Recognizing the flux nature of the times we were living in, with multiple transformational processes in place, we decided that the best way of addressing these and other questions would be to explore them in a peer group of facilitation professionals. Collecting the emerging insights in articles and podcasts, we wanted to curate a collection of different voices, offering the readers and listeners an album-like experience.
This publication features reflections by authors from Ukraine, Moldova, Germany, Poland, and Romania. The articles draw on their professional experience, while occasionally also addressing the theoretical underpinnings behind the practices. We honored the autonomy of all individual authors in using the language of their choice rather than seeking to uniformize it throughout the collection. We wanted to demonstrate the richness and breadth as well as depth of the field, its approaches, and its vocabulary. For this reason, we’ve maintained their diverse terminology, some of which describes similar concepts.
With this publication, we wanted to support youth workers, trainers, facilitators, teachers, and other professionals in the field of citizenship education in navigating these times of crises and transformation. We are indebted to all the partners who accompanied us in this project, and especially the Eastern Partnership Program of the German Federal Office for their friendly and generous support.
We hope your journey through this collection of different voices about facilitation and citizenship education will be insightful and that it will inspire your thinking and work in these complex times.
Malwina Fendrych, Agata Maziarz, Marischa Weiser (MitOst e.V.)
Alona Karavai, Yulia Sinkevych (Insha Osvita)
Iulia Covaliova, Vladimir Ternavschi (EcoVisio)
Having been invited to come on board this project as a guest reviewer in its final stage, I was curious to delve into perspectives on citizenship education coming from diverse international practitioners. I commend everyone’s openness to reflect on their own practice as facilitators and trainers, role modeling in the process transparency, accountability, and commitment to lifelong learning. Reading about contributors’ internal processes, self-doubts, dilemmas, and considerations allowed me to be a witness to their vulnerability and courage, which in and of itself was an intellectually humbling experience.
Citizenship education was never a trouble free domain, seeing how it challenged the traditional educational system, power asymmetries, and hierarchies and put under a spotlight and analysis all of society’s flaws, prejudices, and paradoxes. In some European countries, civic education remains an ad-hoc (as opposite to a standardized) practice and in others an elusive goal of a few brave enthusiasts. Given the differences in approaches, the absence of established teacher training programs for civic education across all EU (and neigh-boring) states, and in general the slow pace of reform of educational systems across the continent (where laments about 21st century skills can often be heard, unlike news reports about concrete changes that would allow for the building of those same skills), it is important to recognize the fragility of advancing citizenship education in Europe. This is embedded within the wider context of increasing fragility and uncertainty relating to democracy as a system of governance that people trust and rely on to meet and provide their (basic) needs.
In Europe, where populism has been on the rise in the past decade, it can be expected that civic engagement will thrive – not the pro-democratic, human rights-based kind, but its very opposite. This prospect alone should motivate greater attention, energy, and creativity towards designing citizenship education and civic initiatives that seek to enhance social co-hesion in our polarized communities, media landscape, countries, and regions. The role of non-formal educators, facilitators, and trainers of citizenship education will grow even more relevant due to their guidance and support in making sense of this flawed state of the world, and of our place and responsibilities in it.
With this publication, the publishers wanted “to support youth workers, trainers, facilitators, teachers and other professionals in the field of citizenship education in navigating these times of crises and transformation.” As such, this collection of practitioners’ voices comes at the right time – when multiple crises (war, inflation, migration, climate change) put our way of life, choices, and practices under heavy scrutiny. Citizenship education of the future will need to draw on and design innovative strategies and methods of enhancing people’s personal and civic responsibility in a world where the things we took for granted over the past few decades are soon set to become the luxuries of tomorrow.
Dr. Maja Nenadović
This episode of the horizontal talks podcast features an interview with project partners, facilitators, community builders, managing
directors, and initiators of educational programs and projects connected to this publication. They reflect on what shifted or changed in their work in citizenship education, and reevaluate their values and mission, in the present and for the future.
Reviewers and contributors:
Alona Karavai, Maxim Pijevski, Daryna Pyrogova, Monica Tranchych, Andrei Trubceac, Marischa Weiser
Guest reviewer: Dr. Maja Nenadović
Coordinators and publishers:
Malwina Fendrych, Agata Maziarz
Print Design & Infographics:
actu&tactu — Aileen Dietrich & Carlotta Weiser
Web Design: Alex von Freeden – LaikaLaika.de
Illustration: Julia Knyupa
Podcast: Linda Frankenthal
Proofreading: Joice Biazoto, Faith Ann Gibson
Malwina Fendrych, Agata Maziarz, Marischa Weiser (MitOst e.V.); Alona Karavai, Yulia Sinkevych (Insha Osvita); Iulia Covaliova, Vladimir Ternavschi (EcoVisio)
ISBN (online): 978-3-944012-60-5
This season of horizontal.talks is a collection of voices. We are discussing citizenship education in times of change and crisis and are hearing from facilitators from Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova and Germany sharing how they perceive the development in recent years, how they deal with change and how it affects their work as facilitators.
How do we adapt to a rapidly changing world? On this episode of the horizontal talks podcast, this publication’s authors, partners, and reviewers reflect on how they as facilitators adapted to a rapidly changing world.
Grab a tea and listen to Betka and Christa sharing their experience and observations of how working in teams has changed in the last years. How do we want to hold spaces and with whom? And how can we benefit from diverse groups and different skills each team member has to offer, and at the same time don’t forget to take care of us individually and as a group?
Join this short exercise to become more aware of what your body needs at this moment and return to your grounded center. Thanks to Christa Cocciole for guiding us through this exercise. This exercise is also available in Romanian, Ukrainian, German and Polish.
Take a breath to be more present in the moment. Join Christa Cocciole while she guides us through an exercise that helps us to listen more carefully to our body.
This episode of the horizontal talks podcast features an interview with project partners, facilitators, community builders, managing directors, and initiators of educational programs and projects connected to this publication. They reflect on what shifted or changed in their work in citizenship education, and reevaluate their values and mission, in the present and for the future.
We really hope you find this publication and the accompanying podcast series useful. But we would love to hear from you!
What are your main takeaways? Which parts did you enjoy the most? What aspects would you like to know more about? What could we have done differently?
Please send us a quick message to firstname.lastname@example.org!