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Europe Seen through Our Eyes, 2011


Partners Czech

The educational project titled Europe Seen through Our Eyes was implemented for the first time in Serbia in 2011, and it will continue also in 2012. Two partner organizations - the Czech Partners Czech and the Serbian Civic Initiatives took part in its coordination.

The project aimed to develop comprehensive methodical materials for conducting structured discussions („deliberations") on current societal issues, to train high school teachers in using them and, based on discussions organized at schools to stimulate active citizenship in young Serbs, and motivate them to take an active part in public affairs, for example, by organizing awareness-raising events for other students or for the public.

The project involved 25 high school teachers from 17 Serbian high schools in three cities (Beograd, Novi Sad and Užice). These teachers participated in three training sessions during which they perfectly mastered the principles of conducting deliberations and learned a lot of important information from the specialists present.

A structured discussion (deliberation) is a specific method of conducting discussions, which consists of 10 steps and is based on a random division of discussion participants into two groups, each holding a different opinion (personal opinion is no consideration in this division) and looking for arguments to support or to oppose the deliberation question in the reading presented (depending on the opinion to be held by the group). The groups then, one after another, present their arguments, listen to each other and make sure they understand the arguments of the other party. Based on such a detailed analysis of the topic from various perspectives each participant makes a responsible decision whether s/he supports the deliberation question or not. By using this method the students learn important facts related to controversial topics, realize and understand arguments to support or to oppose the given deliberation question and develop their own personal viewpoints only after mature considerations.

In 2011, the following three topics (three issues) were selected, methodically treated and
subsequently deliberated on at schools:

  • Should Serbia join the EU?
  • Should schools be allowed to punish off-campus cyberbullying?
  • Should our country prohibit extremist political parties and ultra-right wing

Deliberations on these topics were attended by more than 500 Serbian students. Their response clearly shows that they highly appreciate the deliberation method and understand its benefits. The topics turned out to be really controversial.

And what was the response of teachers and students to deliberations at schools?

  • „After the deliberation finished one student asked me whether we could have more such lessons. "
  • „The students wanted to continue deliberating also after the bell rang and therefore we went on talking throughout the break and then kept deliberating during the following lesson."
  • „It means most to me that the majority of students took the deliberation readings home with them to make their parents read them as well."
  • „During the course of the second deliberation I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the students remembered well the deliberation procedure and proactively adhered to its individual steps. It was obvious during the discussion that they were taking the topic seriously, were attentive throughout the deliberation and after it finished they wanted this method of conducting discussions as well as the topics to become part of other subjects, too."