Proposed European Thematic Network

Children's Social and Economic Learning and Understanding

Issue 2: June 1997
Newsletter of the Draft Planning Group


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Organisational Issues

Membership position

The table on page 3 indicates the current position (full details of addresses, etc., are available on request, see back page). We must have participants from all core states: there is now only one country where we have contacts, but are awaiting responses, from Iceland. We must have a participant if we are to submit a proposal. It would also be helpful to have members from some more of the eligible eastern European states: Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Lichenstein is another possibility.

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Application to the European Science Foundation

Applications were invited at very short notice for bids for Social Science Exploratory Research Grants for 1998. "Orientations of Young People: Citizenship and European Identity" was a topic for which bids were particularly invited. A bid was lodged on 31 May for FF200,000 to support small scale meetings, conferences and visits preparatory to our SOCRATES bid. We will know the result in October.

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SOCRATES application

A very large number of comments have now been received: these are all given on pages 3 - 8. Could you please try to give further feedback on these before mid July. I would like then to try and re-draft the core document to include as many points as possible. In particular, we must decide what will be the upper age limit for this proposal. Originally, I suggested children to the age of 13: there has been some interest from those working with older students. Should we extend the age range, and if so, by how much? How will we ensure that those interested in much younger children (1 - 5 years, for example) still have their needs met?

It would also help if members could indicate their particular areas of interest, so that a draft organisational network could be devised for comment. I already have details from some people.

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Participants in Network: situation at 6 June 1997

Country confirmed awaiting response just approached
AustriaRosita de Boer
BelgiumDries Termote
Tom Oosterlink
DenmarkJesper Froda
Helle Kjaerulff
Ove Outzen,
Gitte Kragh,
JorgenPauli Jensen
FinlandKirsti HakkinenLeena Alanen,
Ritta Wahlstrom,
Marja-Kristiina Lerkkannen
FranceJeanPierre Branchereau
Yveline Fumat
Genevieve Moreau
Micehe Gabert
GermanyWerner Borsum
Egbert Daum
HansFred Rathenow
Gunter Tegtmeyer
Gerhard Treutlein,
Barbara Bruning,
Klaus Schleieher
Bodo van Borries,
Andreas Koerber,
Angela Kindervater
GreeceYannis Panoussis
Elias Matsagouras
Dimitra Papadopolou
ItalyAnnaEmilia Berti
Emilio Lastrucci
Antonio Papisca,
Teresa Ravazzola,
AnnaSilvia Bombi,
AnnaMaria Ajello
IrelandEugene Wall
LuxembourgNico Kneip
NetherlandsDick HerwegJan Schipper
PortugalMario Azevedo
MariaOdete Valente
Jorge Santos
SpainCarmen Gonzalo
Maria Villanueva
Margarita Limon
Mario Carretero
Paloma Aguilar
SwedenMartina Campert
Torsten Madsen
Elisabet Nasman
Vilgot Oscarsson
Gunilla Svingsby
Krister Svensson
Bereket Yebio,
Bengt Sandin,
Sten Baath,
Silva Claesson,
Ingrid Pramling,
Elisabeth Arktoff,
Harrieth Axelsson,
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
Keith Crawford
Adrian Furnham
Peter Lunt,
Alan Lewis,
Paul Webley
IcelandGundumur Frimannsson,
Ingvar Sigurgeirsson,
Agust Arnsson
NorwayKjetil Boerhaug
Lars Monsen
Alfred Telhang,
Svein Lorentson,
Gun Imsen,
Hatvdan Eikeland
CyprusChristos Theophilides
CzechiaMonika VoskovaBill Ross,
Steve Hardy,
Nada Vojtakova
MaltaRonald Sultana
Godfrey Baldacchino
PolandRoman Dorczac
RomaniaDonard Britten
SlovakiaJames Sutherland-Smith

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WEB Site - a new (and working) address

The Network's website is now at The pages area all in action now: I try to update then every week or so. There you will find - details of all members, with e-mail addresses, the full proposal and suggested activities, all the comments that have been made so far, and the European Science Foundation application.

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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Next Steps

Now to mid July: Please feed back comments on the proposals, and on the comments already made below (especially on the age range, the range of activities, the action-research element that some people are stressing). Please continue to suggest names that we should contact (the list on page 2 shows our areas of relative weakness). Please think about which activities and themes you would like to be involved in, and let me know.

August: I will completely redraft the proposal in the light of your comments. I will try to draw up a schedule of groups with similar interests.

September: Newsletter 2 (but on the internet first!). Please give your responses to the revised plans and groupings as soon as possible.

October: result of ESF funding application known.

November: Final redrafting in the light of all comments. National planning groups established (volunteers will be needed!)

December: Final outline submission prepared, circulated and submitted.

January: we may by now have ESF funding to get started on the next stage of the application.

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Comments on the Outline Proposal

This is a summary of all the comments that have been made so far on the draft of the proposal. If comments seem to be accepted by everyone, we will try and incorporate them into subsequent drafts. Please add your comments.

The comments are arranged in the same sequence as the Proposal itself: this should make it easier to keep track of them. There are also comments on the Programme, on our organisational ideas ,and a place for other comments and expressions of particular interest. Each comment is identified by author - you can find out more about them from our list of contacts.

Indicative list of issues: Political

Yveline Fumat (Jan '97)
Will the inclusion of the political dimension prejudice our chance of success? If we concentrated on the economic and social, we might be more distinctive. My view is that we must balance being sufficiently distinctive with being a broad enough coalition to bring in sufficient interested parties.

Cathie Holden (Mar '97)
I feel the political dimension should be kept in, to give a distinctive focus. Citizenship is a key issue under political understanding - this is seen as a legitimate area within the curriculum, while political education is sometimes seen as not legitimate.

Elisabet Nasman (April '97)
I think the political dimensions really cannot be left out: in my own work I have found that children in their comments are linking poverty, unemployment, politicians and public authorities.

Vilgot Oscarsson(April '97)
I am interested in the political understanding dimension

Kjetil Borhaug (May '97)
I am interested in learning about politics and democracy - there is a great need to map existing knowledge. Only fragments of research can be found in Norway. We will also need to understand teachers' work with political issues in schools.

Lars Monsen (May '97)
We need to know how political concepts should be presented to children in schools, and what schools can do as communities to give children some experience of a living democracy


Ian Davies (May '97)
A clear distinction cannot be made between political, social and economic. So I hope the symposia groups will be able to work flexibly. It is interesting that some respondents are stressing the need for the political not to be lost: I agree with them


Gunilla Svingby (Mar '97)
If the idea is that the project will explore all aspects of the three themes, it will be huge: if not, there is a need to focus. Looking a social understanding as an example, we have five large problem areas with dilemmas and rival theories/ideologies to solve these dilemmas. To what extent is activity 1 and 2 supposed to explore the nature of learning and the variety of growth: are we grasping at too much?

Children's ideas/attitudes by 13 - the age range

Cathie Holden (Feb '97)
Does this mean that we will not include children older than 13 in the proposal?

Alistair Ross
My original idea was that we focus on younger children, up to 13, because

What do others think?

Ian Davies (May '97)
I would welcome the possibility of involving children over 13. Some of my reasons for this are rather selfish - my work has almost exclusively focused on secondary schools. But I do think that there are also interesting possibilities that are associated with older children that cannot be as easily explored with younger children, and it could be argued that the inclusion of a wide age range allows for work on progression.

Margarita Limon (June '97)
Most of my work has been with adolescents (12/14 to 18/19): could the programme be expanded to include students over 13?

Four focused activities

Anna Emilia Berti (Jan '97)
We should see the networked research as a loose confederation, not a tightly developed programme where we all do precisely the same thing: my experience suggests that semi-structured interviews produce the best results from children, but that these are hard (if not impossible) to standardise across different languages.

Gunilla Svingby (Mar '97)
If the project is not to be huge, there is a need to focus. To what extent are activities 1 and 2 supposed to explore the nature of learning and the variety of growth: are we grasping at too much?

Elisabet Nasman (April '97)
I am in broad agreement with the above, but think we might also consider asking children to make drawings and to write, as other means of expression. Verbal means are not always the best.

Ian Davies (May '97)
I can see a difference between proposed activities 1 and 2 but in practice the distinction may become blurred unless there is a very tight framework.

1: Nature of socio-economic learning to age 13

Egbert Daum, Werner Borsum and Gunter Tegtmeyer (Feb '97)
We are less interested in this activity and the next, and want to be particularly involved in activities 3 and 4.

Merryn Hutchings (May '97 )
We must ensure that the whole programme isn't just looking at capabilities and understandings (1 and 2), but also about ensuring children can act and do things that positively contribute to participation in social action, change, etc.

Adrian Furnham (May '97)
This is my particular interest: the economic socialisation of children by their parents.

2: Children's knowledge and capacities

Helle Kjaerulff and Jesper Froda (May '97)
We want to look at this track on particular, with children 3 to 5 years old - their capacity to learn and act in preschool situations about family systems, friendships, economic aspects and the environment?

Godfrey Baldacchino(June '97)
Understanding the process and character of conceptualisation of socio-economic thought among children is the pivotal issue.

Margarita Limon (June '97)
I would like to look at student's knowledge and concepts in social sciences (mainly political and historical).

3: Educational programmes in schools

Egbert Daum, Werner Borsum and Gunter Tegtmeyer (Feb '97)
We want to be particularly involved in this activity and the next, and are less interested in activities 1 and 2.

Nico Kneip (May '97)
I am particularly interested in action in Nursery Education (0 - 5 years of age) and the integration of children with specific needs into ordinary schools

Lars Monsen(May '97)
My interest is in how concepts are presented to children in schools, and what schools can do as communities to give children some experience within a living democracy.

Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen(June '97)
Our Department's interest is in children 5 to 8 international and global education.

4: In service and initial training of teachers

Christos Theophilides (Mar '97)
Perhaps emphasise the production of curriculum materials for educating prospective teachers, as well as for teachers already in service.

Nico Kneip (May '97)
We should add parents to this list: especially when we consider young children.

Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen(June '97)
Teaching teachers about international and global education.

Margarita Limon (June '97)
I would like to work on teacher training in the area of children's/student's knowledge and concepts in the social sciences (mainly political and historical).

Phased investigations

Nico Kneip (May '97)
It will be hard for countries such a Luxembourg to be engaged in all phases - there are too few of us to be involved

Alistair Ross (May '97)
I don't think it's feasible for everyone to be involved in every phase: in the larger states it should be possible for us to engage in a wider range of activities, but in the smaller states, members like Nico will only be able to engage in a small fraction - but, we hope, be sustained by the larger network.

The need for such a programme

Social exclusion and inclusion

Raymond Sultana (Mar '97)
As Director of the Mediterranean Education Programme and founding editor of the Mediterranean Journal of Education, I am particularly interested in regional issues and the way social and economic exclusion/inequalities are played out in a north-south axis. The impact of European integration on this is of particular relevance to me.

Elisabet Nasman (April '97)
This is one of my special areas of interest.

Nico Kneip (May '97)
Social integration in Luxembourg early years education is critical: most of the children born here are non-Luxembourg, so establishing an integrational educational programme is necessary.

Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen(June '97)
We are involved in international and global education through UNESCO Associated Schools Project and Finnish Ministry of Education.

Regions, nations and supra-nationalism

Raymond Sultana (Mar '97)
The impact of European integration on these is of particular relevance to me.

Values of democratic systems

Cathie Holden (Mar '97)
We should add Citizenship Education. See the EU Directive on the need for all States to implement programmes in this area.

Alistair Ross
Agreed: see next item.

Lars Monsen(May '97)
This is among one of my interests

NEW: Citizenship Education

Eugene Wall (April '97)
Civics Education is one of my special areas of interest, linked to interests in values education.

Resolution of conflicts, environmental issues, global poverty

Cathie Holden (Mar '97)
Young people have a great interest in environmental issues and wish for a more just and sustainable future. But there is a lack of informed debate in schools and young people are uncertain of the part they can play.

Elisabet Nasman (April '97)
This is one of my special areas of interest.

Lars Monsen(May '97)
This is among one of my interests

Inequalities in socio-economic status and wealth

International trade, movement of capital and labour

NEW: New Media

Hans Fred Rathenow (Feb '97)
Suggests another topic: the problems of the New Media, such as the internet and multi-media systems used by young people: do they foster or strengthen international understanding?

Migration, gender and ethnic inequalities

Cathie Holden (Feb '97)
I would like more stress on anti-racism, and the rise of new racist groups in Europe. Young people often express anti-racist sentiments on a personal level, but at the same time believe that one of the causes of unemployment is immigration.

Parenting practices

Cathie Holden (Mar '97)
Perhaps this should be widened to include the position and role of the family? Current debate on morality, etc.

Elisabet Nasman (April '97)
This is one of my special areas of interest.

Eugene Wall (April '97)
This is one of my special areas of interest.

Nico Kneip (May '97)
I would like to include working with parents - here (Luxembourg) we need to approach parents often to help them cope with a very difficult linguistic situation.

Structural unemployment

Elisabet Nasman (April '97)
This is one of my special areas of interest.

Merryn Hutchings (May '97)
I have a special interest in children growing up in work-poor families, because these children appear not to be able to construct ideas about what work is, or of their future as participating in work.

Sets of materials and descriptions of practice

Cathie Holden (Mar '97)
This and the next outcome may be three items: a) acquiring examples of good practice; b) developing programmes for schools and implementing/trialling these ; c) developing programmes for initial and in-service teacher education

Development in the in-service and initial education of teachers

(see above: Cathie Holden)

Christos Theophilides (Mar '97)
Perhaps emphasise the production of curriculum materials for educating prospective teachers, as well as for teachers already in service.

Dimensions of socio-economic learning and understanding

Cathie Holden (Feb '97)
"Rights and responsibilities" might be a better term than "obligations" - and could be linked to the European Directive on human rights education.

Organisation comments and suggestions

Egbert Daum, Werner Borsum and Gunter Tegtmeyer (Feb '97)
We would prefer not to become involved in setting up the organisation, but are supportive of it and wish to participate particularly in activities 3 and 4.

Ian Davies (May '97)
The organisational framework looks generally very good. I think that this will allow people to keep in touch and to feel involved. I wonder though if the activities are sufficiently clear at this stage? Have you written the outline in its current form as it is this stage only necessary to focus on the areas of work, rather than making clear the nature of the projects to be undertaken.

Other comments and expressions of particular interest

Egbert Daum, Werner Borsum and Gunter Tegtmeyer (Feb '97)
Activities 3 and 4. We are really most interested in the development of materials for primary school children, and not on the research-based issues of themes 1 and 2.

Helle Kjaerulff and Jesper Froda (Feb '97)
We want to explore how pre-school children (3 - 5) learn and understand about such phenomena as friends, families, work, money, etc.

Emilio Lastrucci (Feb '97)
In recent years I have researched political socialisation and civics education at national & international level. Also president of the Italian Society for Educational Research (SIRE), which is active in these areas. Italian national coordinator of international project Youth and History (dir from University of Hamburg), and in Council of Europe initiatives in History and Civic Education.

Cathie Holden (Feb '97)
Current work is on children's concerns with poverty, unemployment, immigration , new technologies and violence.

Gunilla Svingby (Mar '97)
If the idea is that the project will explore all aspects of the themes, it will be huge: if not, there is a need to focus. See my comments under "Social" above. Much is to be gained through action research, with groups of teachers and researchers developing instruments that can be used to assess and explore childen's understanding of social phenomena: working together in this way gives direct impulse to classroom change and to changes in teacher education. [See also Nico Kneip, below]

Carmen Gonzalo (Mar '97)
Implications for initial and in-service training of teachers

Jean-Pierre Brancherau (Mar '97)
Political and economic understanding

Elias Matsagouras (Mar '97)
Activities 2, 3 and 4.

Elisabet Nasman (April '97)
Activities 1 and 2 (but colleagues at Linkoping may be interested in 3 and 4). I plan to be working on children's economic conditions, their economic strategies and child labour; also on ethnicity.

Eugene Wall (April '97)
Parenting and values education/civic education

Keith Crawford (May '97)
Political understanding particularly in relation to citizenship and national identity; Joint curriculum development programmes with schools and initial teacher education courses

Lars Monsen (May '97)
Political understanding, democratic systems, cooperation, conflict and its resolution, power and authority: how are these concepts are presented to children in schools, and what schools can do as communities to give children some experience with a living democracy.

Nico Kneip (May '97)
I always try to combine practical work with research. My current interests are the integration of children with specific needs into ordinary schools, and especially in education 0 - 5 years (nurseries and with parents). I think that we need to consider combining the study aspects (determining, examining) with the activities (developing programmes) in an action-research programme.

Adrian Furnham(May '97)
My particular interest is the economic socialisation of children by parents.

Lars Monsen(May '97)
My interest is in how concepts necessary for political understanding, cooperation, conflict and its resolution, authority and power are presented to children in schools, and what schools can do as communities to give children some experience within a living democracy.

Godfrey Baldacchino(June '97)
Interested in the critical understanding and construction of the social world (by young an by old).

Margarita Limon (June '97)
I have been working on children's understanding of social sciences (mainly history) with Prof Mario Carrertero (Madrid) - I would like to look at student's knowledge and concepts in social sciences (mainly political and historical), also on teacher training in this area. But most of my work has been with adolescents (12/14 to 18/19). I also have contacts with the "Youth and History" project in Hamburg (see list of contacts).

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Request Form for Additional Information

Please send me copies of the following

Outline Proposal (as in April 97 newsletter)

Possible Programme of Activities (as in April 97 newsletter)

Extract from Le Magazine on Thematic Networks

Copy of European Science Foundation proposal

Please send this (a) by e-mail to:

(b) by post to:

Form for Additional Information

I am interested in the following (tick one or more from each column)

political understanding
economic understanding
social understanding

1: nature of socio-economic learning of children
2: variety and growth of children's knowledge and capacities
3: educational programmes for schools
4: implications and programmes for initial/in-service education of teachers and others

Themes(children's understanding of/ action in:)
Social inclusion and exclusion
regions, nations, supra-nationalism
values of democratic systems
conflict resolution
inequalities in status and wealth
international trade
migration. Gender, ethnicity
new media and technology

Age ranges
0 - 5
3 - 7
5 - 9
7 - 11
9 - 13
11 - 13
13 - 15
15 plus

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NB: Using the links that follow take you OUT of the "Mornington Crescent" Framework Guide to CICE: If you are in the Framework Guide and wish to remain within it, use the map on the right.

Click below for issues of the Newsletter:
about the newletters
No 1 (April '97) ... No 2 (June '97) ... No 3 (October '97) ... No 3a (November '97)* ... No 4 (December '97)
No 5 (January '98)
* only sent to members without e-mail: all others were sent an e-mail with this information

Click below for more about the CICE Thematic Network proposal:
CICE Introduction ...Organisation ... Our Proposals ... Membership lists and interests ... SOCRATES and TNPs ... Countries

Alistair Ross