Marche - April 2016
Helping each other: sustainability in a long term partnership
First of all, the title of this project can be read in two different ways. And both of them are applicable in terms of describing the rationale of the project. By engaging younger generations, we would like to revitalize the existing bond between Louny and Barendrecht. So we hope to establish a sustainable cooperation between the intertwined cities in the next future and also on a longer basis. This project will help to keep the friendship between Barendrecht and Louny alive. The other meaning of "helping each other" (as stated in the title of the project), is to create a sustainable environment; we do so, by having the insight that all Europeans essentially suffer the same problems when it comes to pollution and plundering our natural energy resources. We believe, that only together these problems can be addressed and, ultimately, solved. Other stakeholders, such as the "Stedenband" between Louny and Barendrecht and the local authorities, have offered us their help, because they support two aims of this project: active citizenship and intergenerational learning.
Also, this project between our schools is perfectly suited to bring the central points of our teaching methods into practice (working together, self-responsibility and taking responsibility for others). We want to hold our students entirely responsible for staying in the time schedule of the project, as well as for the planning and the realization of the various program points. Their achievements will be monitored by standard reflection forms and in this manner they will, after a certain while, learn to be fully self-responsible for the outcome of the project.
A growing awareness can be constituted by broaden the personal perspective into a social one: if we reach out and look for solutions together on a supranational level, then we have bigger chances to succeed. So, social awareness and special skills needed for cooperation, are important side-effects of the first objective of this project, i.e. changing our attitude concerning natural resources. Personal awareness on the micro-level will lead to more understanding for the responsibility we share on a meso- and macro-level. One of the most important aims of the project is letting young people experience that their voices do count, that active citizenship is neither a question of age nor of nationality: it is about taking your own and shared responsibility.
We will document our results (which we will achieve from the international co-operation) by using Key Words on a so called ‘wikigreen’. The public would get their information not only in English – which is the standard language of the intended project – but also through Key Words in the languages of the participating countries. Above that, it is an aim to translate all the Key words on the wikigreen into the different languages, that are being taught in the schools participating in this project.
Concerning the needs to be addressed, we think that the sustainable uses of natural resources are important because they transcend the personal and even national interest. It is necessary to change our habits in the light of a growing world population and globalization. We believe that a mutual approach to solve the problems of environmental pollution and robbing our energy supplies is required. School subject transcending projects with themes that directly affect the lifestyle of the student, their futures and that they can practically apply to their own circumstances, have a better chance of grabbing the interest of the majority of the student body, than projects that don't. In the course of the project, a relationship will be built between the student's own future and their own active role as a consumer in that future. In that sense, the project addresses a personal and also a general need.
Both schools want to learn more about self-reliant learning techniques and this project will give them the opportunity to enhance their pedagogic and didactic strategies in a long term project (need on a meso-level).
The concrete objectives pursued are:
- growing awareness about your own role as consumer by looking at the 'sustainability' of one's personal behavior - being able to place the personal behavior in a context of a meso-level: technologies, engineering and entrepreneurship - being able to see the consequences of personal and communal behavior on a wider scale (macro-level) - being able to translate all these insights in concrete personal and social activities in the will to create a sustainable environment - the insight that younger and older generations have shared goals - that active citizenship is an important basic attitude for all participants - improving ICT-skills of pupils and teachers by starting and maintaining a so-called 'wikigreen' - learning to organize and reflect the various targets in the project (ability to plan, realize and reflect the targets) - developing democratic skills and attitudes on an European scale
The title of our project reflects our both schools' effort, to keep a partnership between Barendrecht (NL) and Louny (CZ) alive. Although the bond between the two cities still exists, it seems to be threatened by the ageing of their members. In mutual visits, both schools found similarities in their teaching methods, as well in their desire to revitalize the bonds between the intertwined cities with a schooling project. We hope that younger generations will have the opportunity to make the relationship between the cities sustainable. That is also the link to environmental sustainability. We believe that topics of common interest, like a healthy living space, will trigger an attitude that combines self awareness with the ability to take responsibility. For your own life, but also for the life and well-being of others.
In our project, we want to address the topic of 'sustainability' on various levels, such as:
1. enlarging self awareness regarding one's role as consumer 2. stimulating the ability to see the impact of your consumption pattern on the environment 3. seeing the similarities in the different countries of the EU regarding the problems with our energy households 4. translating self awareness in responsibility for the self and for others 5. working together with partnered countries to solve risen problems in a mutual effort 6. being able to see the link between a micro, meso- and macro-level concerning environmental issues
Our learning strategies revolve around the principle of enforcing self-reliant learning strategies. Learning about yourself will awake self-confidence and the ability to plan and organize set goals within a given time schedule. The monitoring of achieved results in this project are entirely linked to their dissemination: by the use of a so-called 'wikigreen', a freely accessible database for environmental issues, all stakeholders will be immediately informed about the results in the various stages of the project. The first year of the project is dedicated to the micro-level, one's personal choices and awareness about products and services. The second year will focus on the meso-level, on sustainable entrepreneurship. In the last year, finally all results come together in describing the countries national energy supplies. In the first two years, we will use surveys to get grip on the status quo of both countries and in the last year we will visit national energy suppliers in order to describe and judge the impact of our engineering techniques. Although in both schools, a lot of lessons with more participants will address these topics in special lessons about the meaning of internationalization, the number in the actual project meetings will be reduced to 10 pupils from each country a year, together with two teachers (for both countries 36 participants throughout the project). In all meetings representatives of the local/national authorities are invited, as well as other stakeholders (for example the "Stedenband").
What we want to achieve with the project:
- enhancing foreign language skills (English and during the project also other languages);
- enhancing self-reliant learning strategies;
- developing self-awareness of environmental issues;
- creating awareness about the topics of environment and sustainability in a region/country;
- stimulating active citizenship by showing that younger people's opinion does count;
- emphasizing the importance of European cooperation on transnational issues;
- developing useful ICT-skills for maintenance of a user portal;
- developing lesson material for future generations of pupils;
- securing and continuing the work on the partnership between Barendrecht and Louny, and 'refreshing' the contacts by a younger generation;
- as a side-effect of the last point: stimulating the cooperation between younger and older generations, so that sharing experiences and ideals can lead to new outlooks on a subject of shared interest;
- a lasting impact of the project by the wikigreen, by allowing other users from all over the world to share their information on the topic of sustainability
In general, we intend to address the problem of what could result from not taking care of our environment as a whole. We are, after all, a biological species which relies like all other biological species on this planet for our continuing survival. In order to achieve our objectives of awareness, we will be concentrating on self awareness skills within our students, honing their abilities to make conscious choices as consumers when buying and using products, let them see the importance of recycling certain products, and over all let them experience that self-awareness involves responsibility for the self and for others.
WikiGreen is being built. Contact info <at> wikigreen.eu