Former des enseignants européens


Marie-France Mailhos, IUFM de Bretagne

This website is one of the results of the collaborative work of the Istepec team of teacher educators from all 10 institutions involved in the ISTEPEC project. It does not relate the story of the project; its aim is to be useful to colleagues in teacher education who would like to introduce “European Studies” in initial teacher training courses. It can also come in handy for teachers, who will find easily transposable ideas for classroom use.

Other results, in the partnership’s languages, are available on CD-Roms and on this website.

ISTEPEC reads : Intercultural Studies in Teacher Education to Promote European Citizenship. There are clearly three threads that are closely intertwined : Teacher Education, European Citizenship and Intercultural Studies. They all combine to create the dynamics of the programme.

Teacher Education is our job and our mission. It is one of the driving elements in the shaping of the future. To take up Hannah Arendt’s ideas of the responsibility of adults towards younger generations, teachers (as representing one stance of adults) have their own responsibility there.

European citizenship has legal, judiciary, social, economical and cultural colourings. The legal texts establishing European Citizenship already exist and are applicable in the European Union. However, public opinion and everyday practices throughout the 27 Member States do not match the legal framework. Public opinion is lagging behind...

European citizens do not make use of the democratic power granted by their status as European citizens ; to give but one significant example, only 47% vote in the elections for the European Parliament, which is legally to be elected by universal ballot. Obviously pedagogical action needs to be taken to bridge the gap between the institutions and the inhabitants; obviously, educators as a whole, and teachers as one of their varieties, have a role to play...

Another motive is to be found in the social, economical, environmental and cultural dimensions of citizenship. If the (nearly) 500 million inhabitants of the European Union want to live together in harmony, they need to know one another better; living together, in the city “Europe”, means taming the fear of the unknown ; getting acquainted with lots of new “foreign” languages and “strange” cultural behaviours. They need to reflect on environmental issues and they must learn a minimum of facts and figures about the economy of Europe in the global context, to erase the mutual fears of those ‘avid workers’ who will come and deprive them of their jobs.

Intercultural studies : to promote the ideals of peace and solidarity, children must learn intercultural practices and teachers must be aware of this dimension of teaching... Student teachers cannot develop intercultural competences by listening to lectures or just by reading books on the subject (although it helps; too), they need to practice them themselves, in the course of their initial training as teachers; that is why the Istepec programme is based on mobility, bringing student teachers from all nine countries to work together in the Istepec modules.

This book is made up of three major parts :

Part One, Questions and Issues is a collection of articles to address the major themes related to the concepts of citizenship education, European Citizenship and intercultural approaches.

School, education and society

European Identity

Teaching citizenship

Part Two, Courses on European Citizenship Education, presents a whole set of practical activities to be carried out in teacher education, and their implications in the classroom. The first section is a short description of the rationale behind the modules. In the following sections, the worksheets appear under three main headings.

Designing an Istepec Module

Europe and Diversity

Europe in Today’s World

Europe and Citizenship

Part Three, Experiences and Reflections, provides an overview of the specific experiences in the various institutions. The first section is more a relation of the actual training course, as it took place in various environments whereas the second section is more a reflection on the programme, from various perspectives.

Experiences in various Cultural Contexts

Reflections on Intercultural Practices

The conclusion will open on a few recommendations and hopes for a better future...

From the point of view of the team of coordinators, it has also been a wonderful opportunity to develop over the years a common working culture, learning from one another... It has been a kind of multicultural laboratory to facilitate, in our professional environment, the emergence of what Michel Serres (1991) calls ‘métissage’, or the merging of identities.

To go away. To go out. To let oneself be seduced. To become several, to face the outside, to go elsewhere. Those are the first three experiences of strangeness, the three varieties of otherness, the first three means of exposure. Because there is no learning without exposure, however risky, to otherness.”

To close this introduction, here is an extract of a poem by Robert Frost (1923):

“[...] Before I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offense. [...]”


Arendt, H. (1972) La crise de l’éducation, in La crise de la culture, Paris, Gallimard, coll. Folio, n° 113

Frost, Robert (1923) The Poetry of Robert Frost, New York, Edward Connery Lathem

Serres, Michel (1991) Le Tiers Instruit, Paris, Edition François Bourin

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