Pangea is the name given to the emerged lands when they formed only one continent, some 300 millions years ago. Since this remote period, the continental drift has spread these lands apart thus creating different civilisations and cultures. The amazing development of modern means of communication (physical and virtual) has now reduced this distance and cultures getting closer now have an impact on all the fields of human activity: economics, environment, democracy, ethic, ... The members of the "Pangea" network want to understand and bring to bear some even modest influence on this evolution by taking part actively in the changes that educational system have to undertake in order to face this mutation. They have chosen to concentrate more precisely their effort on this crucial period of childhood when values, knowledge and basic know-how (skills) are developed.
An easy solution in order to get cultures closer together would be to remove the linguistic barriers and to use the same language (English?) or the same working environment (Windows 95?). The members of the "Pangea" network think on the contrary that recognition of linguistic diversity is a way of learning to acknowledge individual characteristics and identity. The pupils of the "Pangea" network would communicate each in his or her own language ... it would be the recipient's role to find a way to translate the information. A friend, a parent, or a foreigner ... the one who speaks our language well then becomes a person to turn to for help and support. But we don't exclude minimal communication in English to manage everyday business in order not to fall into a sectarian position, even though whenever possible we will give preference to the mother tongue.
Technical equipment of the different schools in the world for economic or historical reasons will not take place at the same rhythm. Within western countries, it is not impossible that the race for equipment in school establishments might create an artificial gap between the "equipped" and the "non-equipped". In the "Pangea" project, we brush aside this factual situation and consider that participation in the development of school networks can be made whatever the technical level of material. We assume that originality and pedagogical relevance of a project are not systematically linked to a high technical level. In order to take up the challenge we propose two principles: the first one consists in privileging the activities of the network which rely on standard techniques (e-mail, WWW, MOO servers, ...) and which depend on the public domain; the second is to encourage patronage between schools in order to associate more advanced establishments with less technically advanced ones to promote co-operation.
Network projects or innovations in the field of learning often offer technical "solutions" before reflecting on the grounds for their use. In the "Pangea" project we always favour the integration of technologies to true learning projects and not only the use of a technology as an aim in itself. We also reject the idea that the logic of the computer and software market should dictate what we should do in our classes. We are conscious that education has to face new challenges: teach more people more knowledge with means that will increase very slowly, prevent a lessening of its performance by not taking into account the new requirements of professional life, renewing in depth its teaching methods. The technologies must enable us to face these challenges and not just dip a coat of modernistic paint over the front of our establishments. We know that the solutions are not obvious and self evident, and that sometimes we will have to proceed by trial and error. Therefore we do not exclude any way offered to us by technological progress or by a solution already available on the market
One of the objectives followed by compulsory teaching is to give all children the capability to modelise, describe and express in a clear language what they perceive and live in their environment. It is also the possibility of imagining and of dreaming in a different world. Some children live in family backgrounds favourable for the development of these intellectual and moral abilities which will give them access to long term education. Schooling must enable all to have a chance to acquire these abilities. In the "Pangea" project, technology is used to promote this objective by favouring all activities of modelisation and representation of reality in order to understand, analyse and describe the complexity of reality. There are several technical solutions: Lego - Logo scale model, thematical index on the WWW, simulations, etc. Technology must also allow the students to develop their imagination and their artistic sense by using "virtual worlds", drawings, animations and by insuring the possibility of easy dissemination and good quality to the largest number of people concerned.
Today's world has become a "village" if we consider the extraordinary speed with which information travels, if we realise that the ecological consequences of a catastrophe spread over a whole continent, if we understand that a financial crisis in a part of the world has immediate impact on the economy of all countries. In the "Pangea" project, we tackle the theme of ecology as a model of globalisation of problems which arise concerning the planet. Young children are naturally sensitive to the environment and ecology allows us to tackle different fields of science with both a concrete and poetic approach. Ecology in its widest sense takes mankind and the environment in consideration as a system in evolution with all its specificities, its needs, its duties, its hopes and its dreams.
Traditional teaching suffers from an excess of rationalisation which leads scholastic institutions to propose inter-disciplinary divisions which are often artificial. This approach neither allows the possibility of making the necessary links between the different subjects and know-how taught, nor uses it efficiently in context other than the school context. Teaching through projects favours the understanding of different types of knowledge through complex problems centred on everyday life. This pedagogy has proved effective for a long time in transferring scholarly knowledge to the professional world. In the "Pangea" project, we will favour the thematic approaches integrated like the ones which have already been achieved in the "Aqua" and "Mosaïca" projects. We will use technology to teach how computer science can at the same time be a tool for fundamental languages (reading, writing, calculating, drawing), a communication system integrating all the media (video, telephone, newspapers, ...), and an inexhaustible source of knowledge and documentation enabling us to move virtually in the largest libraries and museums. Each of us has to learn how to use this many-faceted instrument to face the true problems of our time.