Circus Pedagogy – the Future of an Innovative and Inclusive Education in Europe

Experiences Higher education Erasmus+ Erasmus+ for higher education Internationalisation Education development Teaching and guidance Arts and humanities
A European core curriculum for Youth and Social Circus Pedagogy for Higher Education has been developed in an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership project. Tampere University was the coordinator of the international project.
Circus performers waiving hands, audience clapping.
Sori Circus, partner in the Circus++, performing at the final conference of the project.

This innovative research-based practice of Youth and Social Circus Pedagogy is based on the Erasmus+ project Youth and Social Circus Arts – an Innovative and Inclusive education for Europe (Circus++). The project had partners from five countries: Finland, Sweden, Ireland, France and Czech Republic.

Each national team collaborates with a youth and social circus school but only Finland, Sweden and Ireland have also a national university partner. All teams construct, test and assess their curriculum, the model for recognition of prior learning and provide feedback to each other and to the European Curriculum Development Team.

The final conference of the Circus++ project was held on 15 of June 2022 at the Tampere University. At this high-level event welcoming words were given by Prof. Päivi Pahta, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Culture, as well as by Mr. Petri Honkonen, Minister of Science and Culture, and Ms.  Johanna Loukaskorpi, Vice-Mayor of Tampere.

This international meeting concluded present achievements in implementing the European core curriculum for Youth and Social Circus Pedagogy to higher education institutions in Europe. In addition, the project partners presented a model for recognition and validation of prior learning, and a model for student mobility.

Students selected for the bachelor’s degree programme can be admitted to this Youth and Social Circus Pedagogy level (60 ETCS) which has 3 different pathways students can choose from. Pathway 1: Circus Techniques, Pathway 2: Didactics and Creativity, and Pathway 3: Youth and Social Circus, each pathway with specific courses. Additionally, this core curriculum offers courses beyond pathways, such as Communication Skills for Circus Teachers, Project Management for Youth and Social Circus Teachers or Research on Youth and Social Circus.

Senior lecturer Tiina Kujala sums up the main results of this project: “The result is the European curriculum which we did not have before this project. I am very proud of how clear, easy to read and accessible this curriculum is. The curriculum itself does not say much about the process behind it but it took three years with so much negotiating and discussions before the final curriculum has been completed.”

She also points out the benefits of international cooperation: “I think that we have learnt so much from each other. Especially, from different cultures and ways to educate, to teach, to think and to be in the world. And that is important. When we met, we had very honest discussions and felt very equal with each other. We realized that the core curriculum cannot be too academic and that we have to respect the traditions of circus.”

To encourage others who are thinking about applying for this kind of project, Tiina Kujala mentions the benefit of “receiving financial support for their ideas and to have wider perspectives in the world by getting to know different cultures”.

Writer: Tereza Pruknerova