In the past, we’ve asked you how we can improve European education to make it more competitive. Recently, though, we took a video question from Karsten from Germany who suggested that a “European” dimension should be added to national curriculums to strengthen the feeling amongst Europe’s citizens that the EU is not just an elite project. Karsten argued that the “obligitary subject of ‘Europe’, covering history, politics, music, art and so on” would help “bring the union closer to the citizens.”

Education is  often seen as an important way of fostering national identity, so this would undoubtedly be a controversial move for some. It should also be remembered that school curiculums are currently set at the national level and not by the EU (something that member-states are unlikely to want to see changed). On the other hand, we held a lively debate last year on whether a European identity was really possible, with many readers arguing that it was. Should we, then, be encouraging the development of this identity through a common curriculum, or does this sound too much like brainwashing?

We put this question to John Panaretos, Professor of Probability and Statistics at the Athens University of Economics and a former Greek Deputy Minister of Education (2009 – 2011). How would he respond to Karsten?

Next up, we took a question sent in by Tony on youth unemployment: “What can we do within the education system to ensure that those coming into the labour market have the best possible chance of competing for scarce jobs?

What do YOU think? Could a common European identity be developed through a common European education? Would a mandatory school subject of ‘Europe’, covering history, politics, music and art help bring the EU closer to its citizens? Or would this just be a form of brainwashing? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

38 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Nelson Vassalo

    Definitely, I remember in the 90’s in Portugal we cover it a lot, but we need the next step!

  2. avatar
    Mirko Forti

    obviously yes! I think it could be really helpful to build a common european identity: the next step for a REAL european union is a Federal Union (almost like the US) and it wouldn’t be possible if a strong common european identity, based on a mandatory school subject, won’t be created! I’m from Italy and many italians are getting used to blame Europe for every economic crisis or problem: we could’n really understand what Europe could do because we don’t know our europe

  3. avatar
    Greece B+ Hub

    Yes! Absolutely! We should strive for more European/ International education in general not only in Europe. With more tolerance & acceptance & emphasize on working together and understanding each other. Accepting each others cultures and ways but also embrasing others. We should learn to broaden our minds from an early age. Or at least have some lessons in schools if the above is not possible, with exchange programs and trips etc. No xenophobia. We have to learn more to work together and not to encourage short-minded visions.

  4. avatar
    Martin Vrba

    Its a necessity. The only question is if it is not too late to start such kind of education…

  5. avatar
    Sven Borak

    The problem of that course/subject would be if there is some kind of EU-propaganda. Most people of “USSR-Block” wouldn’t accept it due to “Marx-Leninism” Class

  6. avatar
    Matija Jeras

    a common european education should take it’s place like a subject or more subjects in school from the begining of education till high school and college, also every public institution should have a european flag not just national one.. But also huge step towards european citizens should make eu parliament and some other eu institutions..

  7. avatar
    Pedro Fortunato

    I think there should be a class on “Europe” since early age. Having a common approach to these teatchings everywhere on the EU would contribute for the a common indentity for all europeans. It would be multidisciplinar – History, Culture, Sociology, etc.

  8. avatar
    hugo oliveira

    Of course Europe should be studied at school! Europe and the European institutions are, sometimes, more present in our lives than the national institutions. European matters aren’t international matters: they’re national. Nowadays, the European Union is more like a new kind of federation and functions as one. It’s impossible to have a legitimate argument against this idea….

  9. avatar

    No…just another attempt to program kids.

  10. avatar

    Which schools and what Europe? Schools in the EU, Europe or around the world? Europe as a continent or EU as an institution?

    If you think about Europe as European Union, then it should be teach deeply in the EU countries and shortly in other countries.

  11. avatar

    I think it’s a good idea.I still wonder why Civics is not a school subject anymore (at least in Italy)…our cultures are different somethimes,but there are common values which our students are not aware of. If we don’t start with new generations we would never reach a cultural union which is at the basis for solidarity and friendship.common values that would make lead counties proud to help who is in trouble in crisis without complaints…Proud to be European!!

  12. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Absolutely..!! We definitely need to teach our youths more about how the EU works, their rights as citizens and their obligations. Only then some misunderstandings will be resolved and there will be no space for anti-EU propaganda coming from some conservative folk.

    Also teach European history at school.. How you integrate 27 (soon to be 28) strangers? Folk in Sweden know nothing about Greece or Malta and Cyprus, apart that they are nice holiday destinations that they can go and have fun. How about Greece’s history, and I mean the modern one.. How did all the wars that Europe started affected the country and how they shaped the disastrous political elite that govern the country and brought it to its knees. I would not expect a Finn to have a knowledge of all those things, but I believe it is necessary to have a broader knowledge for a broader understanding.

    Equally, I would be very interested to know more about the history of some countries like the Baltic ones. I grew up at school and I remember them being usually covered with yellow, pink or green colors on the school map and they were where usually the U.S.S.R. letters started.. That is all… We knew nothing about the soviet states simply because of the cold war. Now these states all aspire to become EU members, and some of them have already achieved that.. How does a French man or a German sees these countries apart the fact that their citizens come to their countries to do jobs that they do not want to do and they would work for less? With true knowledge comes understanding, and acceptance and ultimately solidarity and unity…

  13. avatar
    Palma Muñoz Morquilla

    Absolutely necessary to build an european citizenship feeling from school.

  14. avatar

    Education yes, EU indoctrination no!

  15. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    It alteady exists. And it is geographi/cultural not political.

    You wld have to read my bk ,(Indonesia would still exist even if as a)
    geographical reference (rather fitting as the name should not exist as a
    political entity at all) (Professional Case Study ,Moluccas.the passage) tis too comprehensive for everything to be listed here,nonetheless since we have discussed Asia – FTAs , the EU (which..politically what this is abt anyway :) etc..

  16. avatar

    Yes. In History Class – as an example of politicians perpetuating monumental errors.Merkel’s dual role of leader of both Germany and the EU is the most flagrant Conflict of Interest ever. It was a good try, it’s failed, let’s dump it.
    All Portuguese citizens are being forced to give half their annual bonus to The State. That’s Angela’s austerity in action.

  17. avatar
    Mikko Karjalainen

    Such history/geography/culture education already exists, but it’s rather superficial. Should be much deeper and profound. Could be more entertaining also, too many consider this subject more or less dull (atleast here).

  18. avatar

    The most important thin for evolution is educatuion. Firsth time this one have to be “one for all”, after that, I think, it’s legislation. The same for every state, and to made justice ausing same laws.

  19. avatar

    The EU should definitely be taught in schools to give students accurate info to combat media exaggeration.

  20. avatar

    The EU should without question be taught in schools. We wouldn’t question if we should teach domestic or even international politics/affairs in schools, so why would we even question this? The EU plays a major part in the everyday lives of all citizens and therefore should be an integral part of all school curricula, both in Member States and candidate countries.

  21. avatar
    rowan cardus

    I think so, an early insight to how our government works and the EU would be beneficial as everyday there are issues on the news and would give people better knowlegde as to how the EU works and how each member state is involved. It is also now part of our history and development.

  22. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    To help develop the European Project it is obvious that education plays a key role. It is surprising and a real pity that this matter should still be an issue. It just proves our failure to attend to the implementation of an efficient and effective way of integrating the subject “EU” across all schools in the EU. Our educational model is up for review any way. There is a gap between progress in education and progress in industry as well as social citizenship, with education losing out.

    We are probably at the cross road and should explore all possible facets of active citizenship education by choosing a highly varied sample of examples, including all target groups, both in terms of age and socio-economic features, and all types of education. Active citizenship education can be understood as a process of acquiring knowledge, attitudes and skills based on our EU community values.

    At the same time we can create a common understanding of the concept of active citizenship in a multicultural society. The curricula are changing and with the current state of social media borders have been brought down. This equally affects the concept of national pride. With borderless communication enhancing a virtual open society the individual urge for belonging contracts to ones own immediate environment.

    As a consequence the association with nationality will be diluted to regional societies. In parallel the roll out of the EU project can embrace this evolution by securing the platform for common values, ethics and morality. The time has come to attend to a truly Euro-education zone, rich on history and languages.

  23. avatar

    Definitely! If we want EU to ever work firstly we have to encourage people of different nations to get to know EU as it is better and secondly to make people of Europe to feel as one. This way the EU will become stronger.

    Also I think Brits should leave the EU as their old rooted monarchy and their lazy drug and alcohol pumped slaves have nothing in common with the democratic Europe and its culture. And I am not being rude, I had enough of listening to the Brits and their whining while studying here.

  24. avatar

    It’s already taught on the CSPE and Geography courses in the Junior Certificate in Ireland.

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