What you might need to know

  • In this class, you will start by getting the children to reflect on their locality and community. Seamie Shamrock is from Kilmurry in County Cork but of course, you can change the pictures and location to suit your class. President Higgins features on the slides because he opened the local Independence Museum Kilmurry.
  • The idea of this class is to try and get children to reflect on their local village, town or city being part of something bigger, namely a country. Each country is part of a continent. By naming the continents and realising that they are groups of countries, the children also realise that Ireland is part of a continent called Europe.
  • This is a good introduction to the difference with the European Union. A continent is defined by its geographical position whereas you choose as a country to be part of a club like the European Union or not. Switzerland or Norway for example have refused to come into the EU. They’re closely associated with it in different ways but they’re not member states.
  • We then discuss why we created the club. Its first aim was to foster peace among countries that had gone to war twice between 1914 and 1939. Six countries decided to start the club: France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.The idea was to create a de facto solidarity by small concrete achievements rather than a big ambitious political plan. By working together in small areas to start with, countries would become so intertwined that they would never go to war. This is why the first European Community was about Coal and Steel – two materials used to make weapons. If all 6 countries had to agree on their production, then no-one would have any interest to go to war. This has worked well since the EU has been at peace for the last 65 years. It was acknowledged with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.
  • The second part of this lesson is about getting the children to reflect on the positives and negatives of being in a club. They are usually very creative!
  • We finish the lesson with picking fruit representing countries of the EU, each delicious by themselves but when you put them all together, it makes something new… namely the EU. The children like making the EU smoothie and it is a hands on way for them to understand that the EU is not simply an addition of individual countries, it is a union of 28 countries which is more than just the sum of its parts.