07 SES 11 C, Citizenship and Democratic Education
In the last decade Danish schools have been called upon by the government to counter political radicalization, hate crimes and similar manifestations of societal tension and “us” and “them” polarization. Initially, the demand was mainly about watching out for and reporting signs of extremism in utterances, dress, and behaviour of individual pupils, but in recent years schools have been asked to step up on their plight to democracy education in order to form citizens capable of acting in a democratic manner (The Danish government, 2016). The European commission´s Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN) assigns to schools a similar role in primary prevention; according to the RAN working group on education, the prevention in the European schools comprises “to teach democratic and social values, and to help students form their identity” (RAN webpage). In this paper we will examine various ways of understanding and practicing democracy education in a school context and discuss the dilemmas that emerge when democracy are to counter “us” and “them” polarization.
In a field study in three 7th grade classes in 2015-16, performance and achievements related to subject curriculum seemed to be the priority over all. In spite of that, teachers did sometimes bring in “democracy” by way of asking “how do we settle this in a democratic way?”, or by organizing voting to settle whether to play football or basket. Or they urged pupils to argue in “a democratic manner”, when they didn’t approve of the rules of a game (Rasmussen, 2016). When challenging utterances occurred, teachers tended to dismiss them as inappropriate behavior, maybe because of the eagerness or the anger with which they were expressed or just because they were disturbing calm and order. Similarly, inappropriate naming of others – fag, nigger among many other - was simply banned from the classroom, with the result that pupils were on their own when navigating in this field (Engsbro & Rasmussen, 2016).
We observed very little democracy education, and what we observed seemed to concur with what Gert Biesta calls “the socialization concept of civic learning” where efforts are directed towards adjusting the individual to the existing political order, thus excluding voices and identities not in conformity with the mainstream. Biesta promotes instead a subjectification conception to spur “political agency and democratic subjectivity” (Biesta, 2011, p.2). In his exploration of democracy, Biesta distinguishes between a deliberative tradition attributed to Habermas and a less known agonistic approach attributed to Mouffe among others. Biesta and with him, Lo in a recent article (2017), are critical to the admission requirements in the former and point to the potential exclusion of voices and identities that are not articulated as rational reasoning. Whereas both consider the former as predominating in schools, Lo´s didactic reflections lead her to propose a “agonistic deliberation”, an approach that both values rational reasoning and makes room for inappropriate voices, sentiments and counter identities.
In a current project of ours, we work in an action research set-up with capacity building of a school and its 7th grade teachers aiming at developing a school culture preventing “us” and “them” polarization. Lo´s agonistic deliberation is put into practice as teachers engage in “learning in action”-processes.
We will in this paper, analyze further the observations from the field study and the experiences of the current project accessed in the logs from the participating teachers. The aim is to qualify further, what it takes to develop a democratic school-class culture that makes room for inappropriate or non-mainstream voices and at the same time ensures the recognition of “the other”, that is, those who you consider as fundamentally different from yourself.
We refer to two sets of data: The fieldwork that we take as a starting point took place in three 7th grade classes in three different schools in spring 2015. The data are interviews with pupils and teachers, 10 school days´ observation in each class as well as 5-10 further days allocated to activities with the pupils organized by the researchers. In addition, 5 interviews with former radicalized individuals about their school experiences was carried out. Observation had various foci, those referred to here are: did articulate democratic learning place? How and what? What was considered appropriate and not appropriate behavior and expressions? How did the teachers react to opinions or utterances that did not fit in? The capacity building project that we carry out currently takes place at one school. The main participants are 20 teachers and pedagogical staff in 7th grade. In a number of workshops deliberative and agonistic democracy approaches are presented to the participants. In addition, “philosophy for children” are introduced – that is an approach that aims at engaging children in “exploring communities”, serving in this context to promote empathy and a responsibility towards the other. The participants are invited to reflect upon the implication for practice of the presented approaches and to work with them in different ways. Subsequently, they are to develop ways to put them into action in their classes, and to continuously report their experiences from the actions in individual logs. We will analyze the logs, and the observations in the workshops.
In both projects, we explore teacher dilemmas as democracy presupposes both room for the inappropriate voices and protection of and recognition of “the other”. In the capacity building project we generate didactics in cooperation with the participating teachers and pedagogues. And so we do, in a third project, in cooperation with school children in 5 European countries – Erasmus+ Countering Radicalization In Schools CHRIS. In the paper, we will outline the dilemmas and we will present didactics to meet the dilemmas, didactics that are the outcomes of the innovative projects with teachers and pupils. The overall expected outcome is to qualify further, what it takes to create a vibrant democratic school culture with the potential of preventing “us” and “them” polarization.
Biesta, Gert, (2011): Democracy learning in school and society. Sence Publichers. Engsbro, Sigga & Rasmussen, Lene Kofoed (2016): Inappropriate schoolboys or active citizens? On educating democratic citizens in Danish schools. Unpublished presentation Active Citizenship conference, Arctic University, Tromsø 1.-2. June. Danish government (2008, 2014, 2016): http://www.justitsministeriet.dk/sites/default/files/media/Pressemeddelelser/pdf/2016/National-handlingsplan-Forebyggelse-og-bekaempelse-af-ekstremisme-og-radikalisering.pdf Actionplan, prevention and combat of extremism and radicalization. approached 30.1.2018 Kofoed Rasmussen, Lene, (2016): Would you allow for political statements in your classroom? www.schooleducationgateway.eu/en/pub/viewpoints/experts/is-there-space-for-political-s.htm Lo, Jane C., (2017): Empowering Young People through Conflict and Conciliation. Attending to the Political and Agonism in Democratic Education. In Democracy & Education, vol 2. RAN webpage on working groups: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/networks/radicalisation_awareness_network/about-ran_en approached 30.1.2018
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.