Fostering Critical Thinking and Media Literacy - Strengthening European democracy through adult education

More than 60 representatives of mainly adult education institutions from almost all Erasmus+ programme countries met to find project partners and to develop project ideas on the topic of critical thinking and media literacy. The TCA contact-making seminar took place from 10 to 12 December 2018 at the Kalkscheune in Berlin.

Why should critical thinking and media literacy be a topic for adult education? The keynote speakers - freelance media scientist Anna Grebe and Georg Pirker from the Association of German Educational Organizations (AdB) - gave an input on the topic and its relevance at the beginning of the seminar. Anna Grebe addressed the question how media shapes public opinion. She showed how easy it is to distort the perception of a society through social media, fake news or filter bubbles. Georg Pirker pointed out that the velocity of digitalisation is a challenge for our societies and that adult education contributes an important part to tackle this challenge. Adult education has an important role to play in understanding and shaping digitalisation as well as developing critical thinking and media literacy.

Strategic Partnerships in Erasmus+

Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships offer an opportunity to implement European educational projects on critical thinking and media literacy. Michael Marquart and Torsten Schneider, senior experts of the Adult Education Team of the National Agency at BIBB in Germany, presented the Strategic Partnerships and its guidelines within the programme Erasmus+.

Development of project ideas

Moderator Tamsin Rose facilitated the process of bringing together people to develop project ideas by following an open space approach. She invited the participants to suggest a topic they would like to work on. Then other participants joined them in order to develop and elaborate the projects in different groups. These projects address different groups of society such as seniors, young adults and especially adult educators.

Having a critical friend

During these three days, the participants advanced, abandoned or reshaped project ideas. At the end of the seminar, the participants presented ten project designs to the participants. The audience served as a critical friend. Participant Michaela Hermannsdörfer emphasized how nice it was to bring in your own project idea and receive feedback from external colleagues, which really helps the idea to grow. In addition, she said, the seminar gives you the special opportunity to meet your potential project partners personally and find out if the chemistry between you is right.

Informal networking opportunities

Beside the intensive group work, there was space to network informally. At the “European Fair” on the first evening of the event, participants brought delicacies from their countries to share with and get to know each other. On the second evening, participants combined dinner with a visit to the Lucia Christmas Market, which is located between the brick buildings of a historical brewery of the 19th century.

Now we hope that the intensive work on project ideas was fruitful and leads to many successful project applications.

Video: What is a contact seminar? (English subtitles)