Democracy and participation, Urban and rural development

Hacking Critical Thinking

Fighting polarization with interactive education. Teaming up contrasted groups, organizing a competition, and using an engaging app that will apply innovative techniques to improve critical thinking.

Creators

Who is behind this?

Felix Staicu

Intel4Patriam

http://www.intel4patriam.com

Romania

Who is joining forces?

Forum Apulum

https://forumapulum.ro/en/

Romania


Ciugud Local Administration

https://www.primariaciugud.ro/

Romania


We are having a partnership with Agerpres (National Media Agency) which can help us to make our initiative well known in the press.

Idea

Idea pitch

Our main challenge is to combat disinformation in the Romanian society. Our objective is to instill critical thinking in students, realize a local framework, test the program and extend it regionally and nationally. We have two target groups, from the rural/urban areas.

Action approach:
1. Build an innovative critical thinking game app, using videos, challenges and quizzes
2. Organize local workshops and weekly video calls
3. Connect students with other skilled people in their community

Where will your project idea take place?

Alba County, center Romania.
Rural group - Ciugud Commune
Urban Group - Alba Iulia City

What is the local challenge?

Alba County faces complex problems regarding its education system. There is a big gap in school results and opportunities between students from Ciugud and Alba Iulia. Functional illiteracy is a major problem, especially in the rural side, affecting around 40% of the students. Resilience to fake news is absent - students and parents can be easily influenced by actors that sow division in the society. This is a direct threat to democracy and weakens the trust in the national and European institutions, with the effect of reducing civic participation. There is also a high communication gap between generations, which stirs tensions in the local communities and can produce a rift. We believe that disinformation can only be fought with EDUCATION, which in turn also improves social cohesion!

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

A cornerstone in strengthening democracy is to realize human potential in local communities. Our project scope is to promote critical thinking in a world flooded by digital information, which in turn can be used also in the day-to-day life. Information is power and that is why adolescents and young adults must be able to distinguish between reliable information and fake news.Being able to use critical thinking in processing information that is thrown at you on a daily basis, can empower individuals and make them become more active in their communities. Through technology and critical thinking, we can also bridge the gap between urban/rural students and communities, make a connection between them and help them to build the capacity to distinguish information and increase civic participation

Who are you doing it for?

There is a high discrepancy in school results, with the rural side lagging behind in the National Evaluation with 1.6 points. We will bring together in an initial workshop two classrooms, a parent for each student – acting as a motivator, a teacher for each group - acting as a supervisor, allowing us to know each other, team them up, make a first evaluation and explain the importance of critical thinking. Everybody will be encouraged to speak up and be critical. During the monthly workshops they will receive challenges to discover and engage with other people in their communities, who have knowledge of a specific subject and their voice is not usually heard for the young generation. Our project will connect polarized rural/urban & young/older groups, offering a platform for mutual growth.

How do you plan to get there?

-Develop an app taking the form of a critical thinking game
-Find two target groups, organize a workshop with them, supported by NGOs, media and the local authorities
-Introduce the app for the students and get strong support from their teachers and parents
-Assess their critical thinking level and team them up (rural+urban)
-Introduce daily challenges and motivate the students to use the app 10 min/day, introducing incentives
-A weekly video-conference will be held to explain concepts and answer questions
-A monthly workshop will be held with the groups to assess developments, prize the winners, and introduce other concepts
-Connect the students with other people in their communities in challenges designed to bridge the gap between generations
-Take feedback and update the app

What are the expected results?

In a year from now we will have the first rural school in Romania that is addressing the subject of critical thinking. We will also have the first game of critical thinking to be implemented in a private-public partnership in Romania, where students will learn in an interactive way to develop their critical thinking, implicitly to become better citizens and empowering them to make better decisions for their future. In a year, these students will be more resistant to fake news and will connect deeper with other people in their communities promoting civic participation.We will also have the first teams of critical thinking made out of students from rural/urban side, therefore combating the big polarization between the two sides in terms of academic performance and creating interconnectedness

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Critical Thinking represents an essential tool in today's hyper flooded scene of information.Disinformation plays a key role in Europe today and it spreads very fast through social media. Without critical thinking, European citizens are exposed to malevolent strategies that weaken democracy, discourage civic participation, and create division/anger in societies.
Through our project, we are trying to demonstrate how critical thinking, fake news discerning and intergroup communication can empirically improve our next generations for civic participation adapted to today's challenges. By bringing students together to collaborate we contribute to reduce the polarization, give strength to their voices and make them more aware.This model can be used and exported to strengthen democracy in Europe

What is your story?

We activate in the area of international security and combat disinformation tactics and campaigns. The development of critical thinking is the key to a robust society that promotes the values of civic implication and strengthens democracy. The statistics show a sad reality of the Romanian educational system, thus this project aims to empower, engage, motivate and give equal access to opportunities to rural and urban students.
We are active in this line of work since 2018 and we believe Europe should allocate financial and policy instruments in order to spread the importance of critical thinking.
Our mission is a strong Romania that adheres to democratic values and European goals; our vision is to give people the instrument of critical thinking so they can give democracy the right fuel

€ 49600,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 49600,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Workshops costs EUR 18,000
- Travel costs
- Hardware equipment for students
- Local NGO services
- Workshop location and services
- Testing and deployment
- External Specialists (i.e. guest speakers)
Prizes for the winning teams EUR 2,000
Personnel costs EUR 14,400 (i.e. core team of 4)
Digital costs EUR 13,000
- Application engineering
- Branding
- Website
- Software Licenses
Accounting EUR 1,200
Miscellaneous EUR 1,000

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to hear if this idea looks innovative to you and if you believe it can be exported to other communities in Europe after we test and implement it in Romania.

Team

FelixStaicu

barloiumihai

RaulMacovei

Idea created on May 21, 2020
Last edit on May 26, 2020

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