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Title: Exploring the European Dimension in Education : A Coparative Studt of Three European Schools in England, Belgium, and Spain
Author: Savvides, Nicola
ISNI:       0000 0004 2678 9804
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2009
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Exploring the European Dimension in Education: A Comparative Study of Three European Schools in England, Belgium, and Spain Nicola Savvides PhD Thesis Abstract This study explores how three of the intergovernmental European Schools (located in England, Belgium, and Spain) are incorporating a European dimension in education. The study also looks at pupils’ socialisation and interaction patterns within the schools, particularly in terms of their attitudes and behaviours towards pupils of different nationalities and their conceptualisations and sense of national and European identity. The research is principally concerned with three interrelated key domains: ideas; structures and processes; and influences and outcomes. The ideas domain is concerned with the formulation and interpretation of the European School ethos, which relates to the European dimension in education as it aims to maintain pupils’ national identities and to develop their sense of European identity. The structures and processes domain looks at the design and organisation of the European Schools and of the place of the European dimension in the formal curriculum. It also looks at teachers’ approaches towards incorporating a European dimension in the classroom and the challenges and obstacles they face. The study also explores some of the key influences and outcomes of the European dimension in education on pupils’ integration, interaction, and friendship patterns with one another and national stereotypes. This part of the investigation also explores pupils’ constructions of their national and European identities. The enquiry involves a multiple case study design and is largely exploratory and descriptive. It is placed within the historical-philosophical tradition of Comparative and International Education, drawing on Bereday’s (1964) four-step framework of comparative analysis. Methods of data collection include semi-structured interviews with head teachers, teachers, and pupils, focus groups with pupils, participant observation, and documentary analysis. The data are analysed according to the thematic categories that emerged, and pupils’ narratives on their identities are informed by aspects of social constructionist, postmodernist, and poststructuralist notions of multiple, hybrid, shifting, contingent identities that are constructed through social interaction and discourse. The findings reveal that the European dimension in education is inherent in the structure and organisation of the European Schools, which have a European ethos, a range of ‘language sections’, mixed nationality classes, a common European curriculum, and recruit pupils from diverse European backgrounds. Teachers do not see themselves as political tools to turn out ‘perfect Europeans’, but rather attempt to encourage a European perspective through including cross-national comparisons of the topics studied in class. The most influential factor, however, is the many opportunities offered by the schools for pupils of different European backgrounds to interact with one another. Through their interactions, pupils develop certain knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enable them to learn to live together. In particular, they develop: knowledge of other European cultures as they learn about each other and reflect on their own multiple, hybrid identities; language skills; social skills; intercultural competence; and critical and open minds that can challenge stereotypes. The thesis concludes by outlining some of the implications of the research findings and presents some recommendations for further research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available