Changing our Mindset to change our Environment

Environ-MENTAL: a European Erasmus+ Project

Environ-MENTAL awareness across Europe is an Erasmus+ project  about Nature and Healthy Life. It aims at understanding how our lifestyles impact on our environment. Half of the partners have already worked together in a previous project about the same topic, in which we analysed how our different environments determine our different eating habits and lifestyles. Now we feel somehow the need to go forward in our progression towards a better understanding of our diverse environments, a need arisen from the activities carried out in our previous project; so now, in turn, we can understand how we -our lifestyles- can affect our environment. In other words: first our concern was to understand how the environment affected US; now it is to understand how WE affect the environment. We want to analyse our particular environments and ecological background, then we will move on to develop a pro-ecological mentality- hence the project title.

For this follow-up project, we felt the need to count on the 'core partners' of the previous project -i.e. ltaly, Romania and Spain, the ones with the highest degree of reliability and commitment- plus three new partner schools from Northern European countries, thus expanding the area of influence with the aim to get a broader perspective.

A remarkable feature of our partnership is that all schools come from different countries which are involved in ecology in dissimilar ways. lndeed, the level of pro-ecological mentality does not seem to be satisfactory and young people's environmental awareness appears not to be raised at school or at home in the same degree in all countries. Therefore, teachers and the educational communities have a great role to play in order to change this course of action and develop a mentality -regarding environmental matters- common to such geographically distant European countries.

lndeed,our project seeks mutual cooperation and aims at creating new environment-friendly patterns of behaviour, arousing societ y's interest in interrelated economic, social,political and ecological issues. The tasks to be done within the project are constructed so as to develop active attitudes to solve and prevent environmental problems and to be able to involve local authorities and other institutions in these measures.

Coming from different countries with different social and ecological backgrounds, our students share the same responsibility for our common environment; thus it is essential to raise awareness and educate students about such environmental problems as pollution, climate change and gradual reduction of natural resources, and discuss solutions such as recycling and other everyday ecological undertakings.

From a teaching methodology  point of view, our project aims at exploring new methods of learning. We will do this by having students work with the theme of the project in an innovative way. In a fast changing world it is vital that both the educational system and the way we learn change simultaneously. So, instead of standard classroom learning in different subjects we want our students to see that everything they learn at school is connected in the sense that one thing builds on other things.Through working together we will learn from each other internationally. We want the students to work in an exploratory,problem­ based way,meaning that they will have to research,discuss and reach consensus on how to solve a specific problem.

All schools involved in this project have something in common,i.e. they host a relatively considerable number of socially and economically disadvantaged students, hence our deep interested in helping them develop their basic skills and provide them with a better preparation for the job market after secondary school.
We also believe in innovative, inclusive methodologies as the best way to enhance our students' performance at school. These will include the extensive use of ICT tools, since access to information on the Internet is central to educational equality of opportunities.

Inclusive methodology will also apply to foreign language teaching. As the language of the project is a foreign language for all participating countries, the common work and exchanges are perfect opportunities to use and practise this language (i.e. English as a lingua franca for communication). On the other hand, although the working language is English, our cooperation will also promote the knowledge of the mother tongues of the participating European countries.

Overcoming socio-economic disadvantage and reducing early school leaving is another aim of the project. Participation in these activities will surely help to motívate the students to learn and develop a true European consciousness.

Main fields of action

Participants

This project is to be developed by five European partner schools. Among them, IES Sabinar (Spain), Instituto Comprensivo Mazzarino (Italy) and Scoala Gimnaziala Mihai Eminescu (Romania) have shared and developed -very satisfactorily- a previous Erasmus+ project . Three new partner schools have joined this project as a way of achieving a broader perspective: Jüri Gümnaasium (Estonia), Limers College (Netherlands) and RSG´t Rijks (Netherlands).
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