The key themes of the partnership were at the beginning defined pragmatically with the ideas behind the individual projects as a starting-point, and those themes were refined in the course of the transnational meetings. This development was to some extent mirrored in the minutes of the working meetings but also carried out between the meetings in the project comparisons with reflections on our practical experience on the ground at the projects, above all in the criteria for comparison and evaluation described below. There are three key motifs from all projects which serve as the main pragmatic themes:
The advantage of this pragmatic set of questions directed equally at each project is that they provide a main connecting theme and minimum standards of comparison. Beyond that they appear to be suitable to relate the special aims, problems in practice and results of the project to the official goals and criteria of evaluation of the European Union's initiative. At the same time we also ascertained some drawbacks in the catalogue of themes which were chosen.
Their proximity to the official definitions of the problem which suggest compensation for the weaknesses of the participants, made more difficult the appreciation of the specific strengths and unusual qualities of the practice of the project on the ground which often just don't fit into a schema based on compensating for the weaknesses of those taking part.
This necessitated a refinement and re-evaluation of the key themes, and this re-appraisal was prioritised in the discussion of the comparison and weighing-up of the projects: the debate about the artists employed by CAPE in schools and institutions for youth work transferred the focus of the discourse from the problem-beset participants to that of the difficulties of the organisations which themselves require reform i.e. the schools and youth work institutions, and to the question of the desired professionalism of teachers, social workers and the practitioners or mediators with no background in the subject.
In Copenhagen, in the spirit of the vigorous self-reflection which is one of the characteristics of the Danish project, we got to work on a change of perspective moving on from the question of motivation and the characteristics ascribed to the participants, to the desirable form of the curriculum, and the professional techniques selected.
At the meeting in Bremen the formulation of the questions concerning evaluation and dissemination assisted this process insofar as they attempted to create some refinements of the core areas through explicit criteria for making judgements and demonstrating them. Along with the evaluative statement concerning the required change within the institutions and towards professionalisation, other factors came into play too at this juncture: critical appraisal of the basic conditions of both local politics and the national educational systems which had already been used implicitly and descriptively. This step was not only necessary so as to be able explicitly demonstrate the implicit benefits of the work but also to avoid the redundancy which can be brought about by a narrow closeness to the administrative depiction of the problems.
When we inquired, for instance, about the suitable methods required to generate the commitment and success of the participants through rules and procedures, interesting stimuli were indeed also exchanged on the level of the chosen procedures and rules. However, the outcome hardly took us beyond a view of the problem and methodology already known at the beginning of the programme.