Proposed European Thematic Network

Children's Social and Economic Learning and Understanding

Issue 1: April 1997
Newsletter of the Draft Planning Group


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Membership position

The table on page 3 indicates the current position. We must have participants from all core states: we have contacts, but are awaiting responses, from Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Portugal. We have no contacts at all yet with Luxembourg. We must have participants from all these states if we are to submit a proposal. It would also be helpful to have members from some more of the eligible eastern European states: Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Reminders have been sent to all those in the "awaiting response" column. Letters about the Network were sent to all those in the "just approached" column on April 22nd.

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Language Issues

I am very aware that so far all communications are in English. I apologise for this - I have no resources for translation, and suffer from the typical English monolingualism. If we get the Network established, I suggest that we will need to establish

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The application

The application - which initially is only a short document, but with a list of participants - must be lodged with the Erasmus Office by 1st January 1998. The University of North London will make the proposal as the organising and coordinating institution.

As far as we understand at present, we will not at this stage require official statements of participation from all institutions participating in the Network. These will be needed for the full application, if we are shortlisted, by 1st April 1998. However, it might be wise to ensure that the necessary University authorities in your institution are alerted to your proposed participation.

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Contacts and Information

It is proposed to regularly provide updates of information on the progress and development of the proposal by means of this Newsletter and through the World Wide Web. The Newsletter will be sent by e-mail to those who have an address (from Issue 2), and by mail to everyone else. Send your contributions for the next issue now.

The Network's website is at The pages should be working in about two weeks time (mid May).

Contact me (Alistair Ross) at
School of Education, University of North London, 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB, UK.
Telephone: +44 171 753 5132. Fax +44 171 753 5420.

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Organisation and Structure

We will need to establish some kind of organisational structure - or at least have a proposal - by the time we make our bid. Using the proposed list of activities (see page 7) as a basis, we might need the following:

  • A Steering Group of 5 - 8 people, all from different countries (perhaps 1 per focus activity + central coordinator = 5; or 1 per activity + 1 per dimension + coordinator = 8).

  • 4 focus activity planning groups, with (say) 5 members each (all different countries). The Chair of each of these might serve on the Steering Group.

  • 3 symposia groups (political/social/economic), with (say) 5 members each (all different countries). The Chair of each of these might serve on the Steering Group. In addition, each participating country would probably need to form their own network.

    Such an organisational plan would thus involve about 36 people, or about two people per participating country (one person for smaller states if necessary). Given that I expect we will eventually have about 100 members, this should mean that the organisational structure isn't too remote from all the participants. I am very welcome to alternative suggestions. But it would be a more convincing application if this was all agreed and outlined in our initial proposal, with names attached to each of the various groups.

    We will also need to consider the necessary level of administrative support - information and publicity, translation, finance and travel, etc..

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    Participants in the Network: situation at 24 April

    Countryconfirmedawaiting responsejust approached
    AustriaRenate Neuburg
    BelgiumWilly Dupon
    DenmarkJesper Froda
    Helle Kjaerulff
    Ove Outzen
    Gitte Kragh
    JorgenPauli Jensen
    FinlandLisa KotisaariLeena Alanen
    Ritta Wahlstrom
    FranceJeanPierre Branchereau
    Yveline Fumat
    Genevieve Moreau
    Micehe Gabert
    GermanyWerner Borsum
    Egbert Daum
    HansFred Rathenow
    Gunter Tegtmeyer
    Gerhard TreutleinBarbara Bruning
    Klaus Schleieher
    GreeceYannis Panoussis
    Elias Matsagouras
    Dimitra Papadopolou
    ItalyAnnaEmilia Berti
    Emilio Lastrucci
    Antonio Papisca
    Teresa Ravazzola
    AnnaSilvia Bombi
    AnnaMaria Ajello
    IrelandEugene Wall
    NetherlandsDick HerwegJan Schipper
    PortugalMario Azevedo
    MariaOdete Valente
    SpainCarmen Gonzalo
    Maria Villanueva
    SwedenMartina Campert
    Torsten Madsen
    Elisabet Nasman
    Vilgot Oscarsson
    Gunilla Svingsby
    Bereket YebioBengt Sandin,
    Sten Baath,
    Silva Claesson,
    Ingrid Pramling,
    Elisabeth Arktoff,
    Harrieth Axelsson,
    Krister Svensson,
    Bengt Almgren,
    Bigitta Norden,
    Sven Lundstrom,
    Yiva Holm,
    BjornAxel Johansson,
    Odd Minde
    United KingdomIan Davis
    Cathy Holden
    Merryn Hutchings
    John Price
    Alistair Ross
    Jeff Vass
    John Huckle
    IcelandGundumur FrimannssonIngvar Sigurgeirsson
    Agust Arnsson
    NorwayKjetil BoerhaugAlfred Telhang,
    Lars Monsen,
    Svein Lorentson,
    Gun Imsen,
    Hatvdan Eikeland,
    Trond Alvik
    CyprusChristos Theophilides
    CzechiaMonika Voskova
    MaltaRonald Sultana

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    Comments on the draft proposal so far

    (This is planned to be a cumulative set of summaries of comments that will, we hope, inspire fresh comments and suggestions, as part of an iterative process in getting the proposal shaped to meet everyone's needs.)

    Anna Emilia Berti suggests that we see the networked research as a loose confederation, not a tightly developed programme where we all do precisely the same thing: she suggests that semi-structured interview techniques will produce the best results, and that these are hard (if not impossible) to standardise across languages.

    Yveline Fumat asks if the inclusion of the political dimension will prejudice the chances of our success: would concentrating on the economic and social make us more distinctive? My view is that it is a balance between being sufficiently distinctive and being a broad enough coalition to bring in sufficient interested parties. But your views would be very welcome.

    Elisabet Näsman is moving to develop Social and Cultural Analysis at the University of Linköping: this will work with the University's Institute for Child Studies in the proposed Network. Her specialist interests are children's views of unemployment and related topics of inequality in socio-economic status and wealth, social exclusion and parenting. She plans to develop work on children's economic conditions, their economic strategies and child labour; also work on ethnicity. She feels her principal involvement will be with the first two focus activities, but has possible contacts in teacher education Linköping to develop activities 3 and 4. She is in broad agreement with the points raised by Anna Emilia Berti on using semi-structured interviews, but suggests that we might also consider asking children to make drawings and write, as other means of expression: verbal means are not always the best. She also responds to Yveline Fumat, and thinks that political dimensions cannot really be left out: in her own work she has found that children's comments link poverty, unemployment, politicians and public authorities.

    Elias Matsougouras expresses interest in themes 2, 3 and 4.

    Eugene Wall is particularly interested in parenting and in values education/civic education.

    Egbert Daum, Werner Borsum and Gunter Tegtmeyer are interested in the Network, but would prefer not to become involved in the organisation at the moment (we had originally thought that they might be). Their main interest with the Network is in theme 4, the development of materials for primary children, and not on the more research-based issues of themes 1 and 2.

    Cathie Holden feels that the political dimension should be kept in, to give it a distinctive focus. Citizenship is a key issue under political understanding - this, she suggests, is a legitimate area within the curriculum, while political understanding is often seen as not legitimate. Her current work is on children's concerns with poverty, unemployment, immigration, new technologies and violence. She raises issues about how much Socrates may wish to be involved in themes 1 and 2, as they are more "research": I certainly feel that we need to tie them strongly to themes 3 and 4 in order to be successful with the application, but think that we do need to develop and share a common language and understanding about these issues before we move directly into practicalities of school and teacher curricula. She also would like more stress on anti-racism (linked to children's sentiments on this and their parallel expression of fears about immigration). Rights and responsibilities might be better that obligations, and this can be linked to the European directive on human rights education. I will make necessary changes in the draft after any further comments from members.

    Cathie Holden also asks whether we will include children over 13 in the project: my original idea was that concentrating on younger children would be best because