Why do BFGTOEU?
‘Education isn’t the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire’ (W.B. Yeats)
As you know, BFGTOEU is an exciting and engaging new programme which get you and your students thinking about the role of Ireland in the European Union. It focuses on getting children of all ages to develop three types of skills essential in every walk of life and as an active citizen:
- Critical thinking skills: This is not a pro-European programme. Through innovative tasks, we get the children to go beyond their immediate conclusion and look at questions from different points of view.
- Media literacy skills: We get children to look at conflicting sources of information and make the difference between sources delivering opinions and facts.
- Deliberative skills: These skills include perspective taking and empathy, self-reflection on bias, tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity, listening and question-asking skills. Children learn how to listen to somebody they disagree with and respect their opinion. E.g.: Brexit, migration crisis
Very soon, students of all ages and backgrounds become aware of the various levels of government. They start discussing the European club of which they are citizens!
Teachers' feedback on BFGTOEU
“Remember the EU is worth celebrating”
by Lise Hand, 11 May 2019
Extracts from an article in the Sunday Times Ireland
“Schuman Day didn’t go entirely unmarked in Ireland. On RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime there was a charming item on an EU-themed quiz in Kilmurry national school in Co Cork. Emmanuelle Schon-Quinlivan, a politics lecturer at University College Cork and author of the educational programme “My Big Friendly Guide to the European Union”, was putting the 3rd and 4th year children through their paces.
The EU, reckoned the pupils, is “fun” and “made for peace”. They learnt about stuff such as the single market and how growth hormones were banned from the food chain.
“They need to figure out for themselves and think critically about what it means to be part of the club,” Schon-Quinlivan said. “This is not at all about selling the European Union to the children; it’s getting them to reflect on what are the advantages and disadvantages of being part of a club, about being a smaller member.”
Chances are that the boys and girls of Kilmurry national school are considerably more clued-in than many of their fellow citizens who are eligible to vote in the European elections at the end of this month. […]
Every time anyone demands to know, Life of Brian-style, “what has the EU ever done for us?”, they should be presented with its equivalent of the Romans’ contribution to sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, fresh water systems and public health. And, of course, peace.
Then they should be enrolled into a course of “My Big Friendly Guide to the European Union”, whereupon they can give some actual thought to what they like and don’t like about the EU, and what elements of it they want to change or embrace.
Until such a miracle is wrought, the least everyone can do is go and vote on May 24.”