THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
The information for the Case Study was collected during an interview with Giovanna Busconi, teacher in charge of European Projects at the High School “L.Respighi” of Piacenza, in Italy. Giovanna Busconi represents the promoting institution of the Comenius School Partnership project entitled “Re-Creation by Genetics: new ways of life?”.
The background of the “Re-creation” project is based on the fact that scientific research and innovation are among the most important driving forces of the contemporary society. The world is witnessing an extraordinary succession of new ideas and proposals which condition everyone’s life. Where do these proposals come from and how are they evaluated? From Galileo on, science has always been “a public matter”. Schools are therefore responsible for the education of future citizens so that they can consciously act in such a context. Therefore, the “Re-creation” project represented an important opportunity, so that students could have proof that science is not and can not be a knowledge within boundaries. On the contrary, it is a common achievement and its value can be proved only by peer reviewing. The starting intention was to carry out the analysis on an emergent scientific subject through the observation of the existing conditions, trying to explain, within the limits of Secondary School students, the state of the art, the methodology used, and the contribution of the different countries/cultures on this concern. For this reason, the project was organised on two different levels, the scientific and the linguistic one.
The project target groups are: teachers and students of 6 different high schools located in 6 different European and non-European countries (Italy, Turkey, Romania, Lithuania, Germany, Spain).
The project target language is English.
The “Re-Creation” project has two objectives addressed to different targets. First of all, the project is addressed to students and teachers, stimulating their criticism and their capacity to analyse, improving their disposition to research and discovery, educating them to develop their self-awareness through the dialogue on a scientific subject. Secondly, the project aims to consider science as something which can be shared, as a global decision which should respect the culture of each single country. In this case, the GMOs represent the best example of how science can not be "buried” within the national boundaries, because it touches the ehtical principles of everyone.
The first draft of the project has been written in 2007. The following step has been represented by the creation of the network, involving schools which were interested in this project. Then the draft has been sent to all the partners, leaving them the opportunity to cover the blank spaces and to insert their own priorities and sent to the National Agencies, which approved it. Then, on the occasion of the first meeting held in Lithuania, the project was finalized. One of the strength points of the initiative is represented by the fact all the teachers contributed in realising something interesting both for them and for their students: the possibility to expand the boundaries of their knowledge, the necessity to spend abroad an important part of their education, the opportunity to touch the subjects of study through a reciprocal exchange. The research activity has been conducted by each single school in close cooperation with the other countries. After this first phase, students began to work directly with classmates of other nationalities through transnational exchanges. The final result of the project (research activity, abroad experiences) was collected in a book printed in English with a national report translated in all the languages of the partners involved.
The results of the project are highly positive for both the objectives identified. Students and teachers had the opportunity to realize important experiences abroad, facing those typical stereotypes which usually characterize the meeting with something new or unusual. From a didactic point of view, it was interesting to study the GMOs, to call on experts of different nationality, to affirm each own point of view on a delicate subject.
High School “L.Respighi” of Piacenza, promoter of the “Re-creation by Genetics: new ways of life?”, decided to submit the application for the European Language Label with the aim to ensure a qualitative award to the project.
First of all the project received an official qualitative recognition, this was rewarding for the participating teachers, students and their families. The Label assessed and publicly demonstrated that the work carried out had been a valuable one. This assessment had not been done internally by the participating schools but by external experts who had assessed the project among others and had decided to award this one. The Label was therefore an important and external recognition that motivated all the teachers to continue working in this field and to create durable partnerships with other schools. Secondly, thanks to the label the school gained further visibility.
The Label had a strong motivational effect. After the award, the “L. Respighi” high school increased the number of English lessons and mobility initiatives abroad, organised refresher courses for English teachers, developed more national and transnational partnerships with other schools.
The Label had a strong impact on the project in terms of quality and visibility. Thanks to the award, the Italian National Research Centre (site of Naples) contacted the school in order to receive more information. Then, he wrote an article on a scientific national magazine and talked about this initiative on the occasion of a national TV programme (TV 2000).
In order to develop a quality project in the field of Language learning, “L. Respighi” High School, the project promoter, advices to create a stable network of partners, starting from a direct contact. Once identified the possible partners, it is important to meet them and to take advantage from the natural positive feeling which usually comes from common objectives. Secondly, according to the project promoter, it is better to work in larger groups because multilateral partnerships are more satisfying than bilateral ones. Finally, the project should fully take into account the didactic reality, so that learners may touch directly the subjects they study in classrooms.
The best way to exploit an awarded European Language Label initiative is to disseminate it, because schools usually realize a lot of initiatives which are completely unknown out of their buildings. It is important to communicate all the successful initiatives both inside and outside the school environment.
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
The NELLIP Network selected the “Re-creation by Genetics: new ways of life” project for its consistency with the political priorities of the European Commission in the field of language learning. In particular, the “Re-creation by Genetics: new ways of life” project has been chosen because of its consistency with the priority related to the promotion of new approaches to language teaching and learning. Students have the possibility to improve their linguistic skills thanks to the analysis on an emergent scientific subject (GMOs) with transnational, cultural and moral consequences.
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