Prosociality is a key competence, which drives individual behaviour and actions that benefit others without expectations of reciprocity. Linked to critical thinking, empathy, and appreciation of different opinions, prosocial skills foster dialogue and resilience to polarisation and radicalisation. Prosociality-inspired learning activities result in a more inclusive learning environment and stronger relations between students, teachers, parents, and the larger community. A pedagogical model based on the principles of prosociality was discussed at an international conference in Crete, Greece on January 9-10, 2020. Among the participants were state officials, policy-makers, researchers, teachers, and students, who discussed prosociality’s potential to alleviate the risks faced by young people today.
The model was piloted in secondary schools of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain in the autumn of 2019. As a member of the international initiative ALICE, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) coordinated the piloting in two schools in Sofia. Students were introduced to the concept of prosociality and participated in practical learning activities such as “Human Rights and Equality” and “Online Hate Speech”. Throughout the piloting, CSD analysed the feedback provided by teachers and students and formulated policy recommendations for improvements in the model, which were discussed at the conference in Crete. The lessons demonstrated that the success of prosociality training is conditional upon the specificities of the school environment and the nature of the teacher-student relationship, the openness of the two groups to prosocial values and their readiness to use innovative and interactive training means.
The lessons learned served as the primary input for the policy development framework. Among the policy recommendations formulated by CSD was the integration of prosociality in school curricula – as early as possible and, preferably, as a regular subject. Next, the development of new learning activities and practices based on context-specific needs was advised, based on the finding that in some classes, schools or countries, certain topics are more suitable for in-class discussion and deliberation than others. The creation of an international network of teachers, practitioners, and students familiar with the concept of prosociality was also recommended. The network will serve as a platform for perfecting the prosocial pedagogical model and exchanging experience and knowledge on prosociality.