Democracy education

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Democracy education , also democracy education or democracy education , describes forms of education with the claim to shape the educational process democratically , or with the goal of democracy as a recognized state type of government or, more broadly, a democratic coexistence in the sense of a democracy as a way of life ( John Dewey ) promote. This includes educational approaches that convey content about democracy or practice democratic behavior , as well as attempts to make the structures of the school or the entire educational system democratic.


As a result of the PISA studies , the concepts of democracy ability and democracy competence have been found as goals of democracy education, especially since the spread of different competence models . This is subdivided into three dimensions in the literature: a cognitive dimension of political knowledge, an affective-motivational dimension and a third, behavioral dimension, which relates to democratic behavior. Democracy education refers in many ways to the knowledge of John Dewey and of pragmatism .

Methods of Democracy Education

These educational goals are also made clear in different methods. To be mentioned here are:

  • Subjects such as social studies , ethics , history or political world studies, in which knowledge about social institutions is conveyed and reflection on ethical and political-historical problems is to be stimulated;
  • media-educational approaches that want to sensitize people in handling information, but also propaganda or advertising ;
  • Student co-language rights (e.g. student representation, etc.) as a limited opportunity for students to express their opinion in exchange with the school and to have a say in some questions;
  • Further school participation according to the Sudbury model : All decisions are made by the students in a democratic process (“school assembly”), the establishment and change of rules, the use of the money available to the school and the hiring or firing of employees;
  • the opening of the school, as the community and service learning approaches from the Anglo-American education system strive for, in order to include the environment of the school as an institution and thus come closer to the realities of life of the students;
  • Mediation processes , such as arbiter training, which are sometimes counted as part of democratic education because they distribute conflict- solving skills in schools among the students and thus give them more influence on their own learning environment. In addition, they deal with different ways of finding compromises, which can be seen as a component of necessary democratic skills;
  • Democracy training in the form of seminars or as advanced training for training in appropriate democratic conflict resolution, etc. a. in role play .

The relationship between democracy education and political education

Approaches to democracy education or democracy education are mainly anchored in educational science, while the primary reference discipline of political education is political didactics . The focus of democracy education is democracy, understood not only as a form of rule and society, but especially as a way of life. The central reference of civic education to the democratic political system is therefore criticized by democracy educators as being too institution-centered, while political didactics point out that the political content of topics is often neglected too much in approaches to democracy education . Democracy education also understands itself as “an umbrella term for all educational efforts to maintain and renew democracy”. While political education in schools often relates to the associated core subject, many approaches to democracy education follow an interdisciplinary concept.


The fundamental book Democracy and Education by John Dewey was first published in 1916 and is still cited (often as the only contribution) in educational publications on the subject to this day.

This educational reform approach relied primarily on the democratic experience and is based on the school system in the USA . In Germany , during the Weimar Republic, ideas about co-determination in reform pedagogy came up , especially in the Federation of Decided School Reformers . a. included in the school regulations by Gustav Wyneken . In doing so, however, they remained limited to state-related approaches such as the introduction of civic education and a limited student communication. For the first time, the Weimar Republic set up the subject of civics as a subject in accordance with Art. 148 of the Weimar Constitution to spread the democratic idea .

The Nazis fought democracy as un-German phenomenon, but the National Socialist education could continue to exist many educational reform projects at least for some years, and. a. to find pedagogical inspiration for their own elite institutions ( national political educational institutions ).

After 1945, the USA planned to anchor a democratic education based on the Dewey model for denazification , but failed in its zone of occupation due to resistance from the German school administration and interest groups. At many points the school in the western zones and the Federal Republic started again with the formation of the Weimar Republic. Approaches to a democratic style of upbringing have been known since the 1950s . The introduction of the subject of social studies alongside history lessons should contribute to education for democracy. It was only with the comprehensive school movement and anti-authoritarian education in the 1970s that democratic objectives came back into the focus of educational science. In-depth democratic education was made part of the program in exceptional institutions such as the Bielefelder Laborschule . Its founder, Hartmut von Hentig , is probably the best-known representative of democratic education in Germany today. Internationally there are much more developed democratic schools . The most famous schools of this type are Summerhill and the Sudbury Valley School .

Due to the increasing right-wing extremism in German society - especially among young people - in the 1990s, the federal-state commission launched the BLK program to learn and live democracy in 2002 , in which 13 federal states participated. Good examples of further democratic school practice have been established in around 130 schools. The German Society for Democracy Education was founded in 2005, which aims to promote networking between relevant actors and strengthen democracy education. In 2009, the German Standing Conference adopted a declaration on strengthening democratic education , which was updated in 2018. A specialist conference of the federal states took place in Potsdam. The program Live Democracy! of the BMFSFJ has been promoting civil society projects that advocate democracy, diversity and against misanthropy since 2015. There is a special focus on promoting democracy in children and adolescents.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. EPA Social Studies / Politics ( Memento of October 5, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 494 kB) in the Internet Archive .
  2. Gerhard Himmelmann: What is democracy competence? ( Memento of the original from December 20, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. 2005 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Christine Schmid, Rainer Watermann: Democratic education . In: Handbuch Bildungsforschung (=  Springer Reference Social Sciences ). Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 2018, ISBN 978-3-531-19981-8 , pp. 1133–1153 , doi : 10.1007 / 978-3-531-19981-8_50 ( [accessed March 13, 2020]).
  4. Practical concept: learning democracy - experiencing self-efficacy. In: The German School Portal. September 7, 2018, accessed February 14, 2020 .
  5. "Codetermination often stops in class": An interview with student representatives from Berlin and Brandenburg. In: The German School Portal. October 29, 2019, accessed February 14, 2020 .
  6. Practical concept: Student mediation - solving conflicts together. In: The German School Portal. March 10, 2019, accessed February 14, 2020 .
  7. ^ Kerstin Pohl: Democracy Education or Political Education - A Dispute Between Two Scientific Disciplines? In: Topology: Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Filosofiche, Pedagogiche e Sociali . No. 6 , November 1, 2009, ISSN  2036-5683 , p. 102–115 ( [accessed March 13, 2020]).
  8. Our association. In: DeGeDe. Retrieved on March 14, 2020 (German).
  9. Strengthening democratic education. KMK, 2009, accessed May 21, 2020 .
  10. Democracy as the goal, object and practice of historical-political education and upbringing in schools. (PDF) Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs BR Germany, 2018, accessed on May 21, 2020 .
  11. Potsdam Conference 2009 ( Memento of the original from April 19, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. About “Live Democracy!” | Live democracy! Retrieved March 13, 2020 .