Political education

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The political education has its roots in political science , historical science and education . Its aim is to recognize connections in political events, to convey and strengthen tolerance and the ability to criticize , in order to contribute to the formation and further development of active citizenship , social participation and political participation .

The term political education used meant (according to Brockhaus 1958) the education of young people to be able to make political judgments and a sense of social responsibility . In schools, the relevant subject was or is called politics, community studies , civics , social studies , social sciences (in North Rhine-Westphalia) or political education (in Brandenburg), the subject-related didactic reference discipline is political didactics .

Aims, actors and addressees of political education

In democratic societies, the aim of political education is to impart systematic knowledge about the democratic system and to strengthen competencies for political action in order to educate citizens to become responsible citizens . The boundaries to democracy education are fluid.

Actors of political education are primarily teachers at schools of general education , and also of vocational schools and colleges. Political lessons are also held in the Bundeswehr . In the youth education of independent organizations and the adult education different principles of participation apply: voluntariness, uniqueness of the event, lack of performance assessments create special conditions. The public service media also have a mandate to provide political education. Professorships for political didactics have been set up at universities with teacher training.

The actors in the public order (teachers, state center for political education ) should endeavor to treat political issues as objectively as possible and openly to multiple opinions on the basis of the free-democratic order . That does not mean that they do not represent an opinion themselves, but a value judgment must be recognizable as such. The learners should be given space to develop their own political worldview. The activities of independent organizations in political education mostly reflect the interests of clients from foundations, associations and private donors.

Another pillar of political education is the experience of a democratic culture in the schools and institutions themselves, which becomes visible in the participation ( participation ) in decisions, practiced co-determination , in the transparency of decisions, low hierarchy and the facilitation of a culture of debate . Those who experience themselves as self-effective as adolescents identify themselves with democracy as a way of life ( Identitarian Democracy Theory ). The civic education approach , which focuses on political commitment and social skills , is particularly concerned with this.

Early history of political education

There have been writings on political education in Europe since the 5th century BC. BC - so the Kyrupadie ("education of Cyrus ") of the Greek author Xenophon . Aristotle and Cicero emphasize the need for political education for the existence of the state. Often the form of portraying an exemplary ruler is used, for example in Einhard's Karlvita. The target group were the coming monarchs (“ Fürstenspiegel ”, “ Political Testament ”), but this also gave the subjects an opportunity to criticize their current masters. The emergence of public opinion through newspapers, theaters and clubs, the discussion of political questions among citizens, the will to political emancipation through reason and education characterize the age of the Enlightenment .

Philosophical directions of political education

A Neubauer in the GDR reads the White Paper on the American-English Intervention Policy
in West Germany and the Resurgence of German Imperialism (1952) for political education

With the emergence of modern political directions and world views since the French Revolution, typical goals of political education emerged that continue to have an impact today.

For conservatives , the ultimate goal is the maintenance of order and hierarchy through state authority and recognized tradition. Understanding of political issues and the need for the order to be awakened - institutions customer, law principles - and the citizens should develop a sense of community for their environment (municipality, district, state, government).

For liberals , the primary goal is to uphold the rule of law and parliamentary responsibilities. Knowledge of the social order and value awareness , especially for human and fundamental rights , as well as the practice of social virtues are important goals.

For liberal- social-democratic positions, the ultimate goal is to achieve diverse competition for stability and efficiency. Political education is intended to sharpen judgment and create critical loyalty to all social actors and institutions. Political participation , integration and defense of democratic achievements are important goals here.

For left-wing democratic socialists , the ultimate goal is the dismantling of rule in all areas of society. The priorities are criticism of rule and ideology . Disadvantaged citizens should become aware that they have to act collectively in order to become emancipated.

For Marxists , the goal is or was the revolutionary abolition of the basic political-economic structure of the capitalist system. The citizens should develop a class consciousness . For the abolition of order, it is important to promote forms of solidarity.

Phases of political education in democratic Germany

Political education in today's sense is inextricably linked with democratic conditions and open debates. Oskar Negt assumes that democracy “is the only politically composed social order that has to be learned”. Civic education was also under undemocratic states instead: the "civic education" as of Georg Kerschensteiner promoted in the Empire , the National Socialist education or civic education of the GDR . They are not relevant for the phases of democracy education. The national liberal teacher Paul Rühlmann first used the term political education in 1908 and called for a separate subject. In 1919 he saw a reason for the German defeat in the world war in the better political education of the French.

Weimar Republic 1918–1933

With the November Revolution, not only a democratically constituted republic emerged in Germany, but also new initiatives in the education system came into play. The adult education centers experienced a huge start-up boom, but other educational institutions also took off. Thousands of functionaries had to be trained for the new forms of co-determination and self-administration in the vicinity of the trade unions (which at that time were still split into different currents) , the parties made greater efforts to educate their members, and a number of independent institutions turned to other groups or to all citizens. The folk high schools (based on the Danish model) tried to combine political education with personal development in longer courses, often lasting several months. The “Reichszentrale für Heimatdienst”, which began as early as the First World War , tried to train speakers and support republic-friendly forces. The new school subject "Citizenship" received a constitutional mandate in Art. 148 of the Weimar Constitution .

Allied control 1945–1949

After the end of World War II political education was designed on behalf of the Allies, the Germans denazify ( denazification , reeducation ). It was about democratizing the Germans at all. The Allied Control Council decided in its Directive 54 of June 25, 1947 that schools should promote “the development of a civic sense of responsibility” and “the conception of a democratic way of life”. The Allies (especially the British occupying forces) also supported the creation of new learning locations and educational programs, especially for women and young people. The Allies sought support from Germans who came from older democratic traditions in Germany before National Socialism .

Early Federal Republic 1949–1969

The federal states , which in the Federal Republic of Germany had exclusive responsibility for political education, found it difficult to do so. Impetus came from pedagogy (e.g. Erich Less , Theodor Wilhelm who was burdened by Nazi Germany in 1951) and the newly established political science at the universities, e.g. B. the Freiburg School . The discussions about “coming to terms with the past”, especially after new anti-Semitic incidents, intensified the approaches to scientific justification and professional work from the end of the 1950s. The subject " social studies " or " social studies " was next to the teaching of history established. In the 1960s, there was a transition from older, more educational theories to concrete, didactic concepts of political education. The occasion was the establishment of many chairs for political didactics at universities. Outside of the schools, influential forces of political education combined with the impulses of the 1968 movement (“Dare more democracy!”).

Matured Bonn Republic 1970–1989

In the phase after the change of government in 1969, the political didactic approaches differentiated and a systematization of didactic and methodological approaches began. Political controversies about actual or supposed one-sidedness in political education shaped the scene within ( Hessian framework guidelines ) and outside of schools.

In political adult education, a large number of new institutions emerged - on the one hand, shaped by the political optimism of these years, on the other hand, initiated by new legislation in many federal states on further training for employees.

In the so-called “ Beutelsbach Consensus ” in the 1970s, important political didactics suggested - initially for the school sector - some basic principles for what civic education may or must be observed. The three principles include

  1. the prohibition of overcoming, d. This means that teachers must not force their opinions on learners;
  2. the requirement of controversy: there must be controversial discussions in class, which also appears controversial in public;
  3. Political education must enable students to analyze the political situation and their own position and to draw conclusions from it.

These norms are now widely accepted for extracurricular youth and adult education, which differs in many ways from school lessons.

In the 1980s there was a debate about Jürgen Habermas ' initiative that the goal of political education was constitutional patriotism as opposed to outdated national patriotism . But the national orientation in Germany in 1990 put an end to this.

United Germany from 1990: Munich Manifesto and educational standards

A new challenge for political education was the unification of Germany, because with the East German population a differently shaped and socialized group became the target group for political education. At the same time there was increased right-wing extremism in both East and West.

The second generation of university professors was appointed. Political didactics also turned more towards empirical questions of teaching-learning research . The main controversial issue was the orientation towards a more cognitive and reflexive teaching with knowledge content or behavioral teaching that practices democratic attitudes, has a more project character , deals with concrete life problems of young people and aims at a practice of student co-responsibility . The didacticians Gotthard Breit and Peter Massing can be mentioned for the first direction in this controversy , for the other Gerhard Himmelmann or Peter Fauser .

In 1997, the Federal Agency for Civic Education and the State Central for Civic Education formulated the tasks of political education in the 21st century in the Munich Manifesto.

Beginning of the 21st century

The subject didactics of political education reached an association political consensus on competencies with the elaboration of a draft for national educational standards for political education in schools in 2004 (see below GPJE 2004). Three areas of competence are defined here: political judgment, political agency and methodological skills. These skills are differentiated for all school levels and are intended to promote the political maturity of the students overall . However, the educational standards for political education are not a binding regulation of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs as in the subjects of German, mathematics, English, French, biology, chemistry, and physics, but only recommendations from a professional association. They were intended as an association political signal.

As a result, this model of association policy is criticized in the scientific discussion. Further proposals are made. After several conferences, a volume was initially created at the Federal Agency for Civic Education, which unites the ideas of various specialist didactics at the time ( Weißeno 2008). This shows that there was no agreement, in particular on the specific design of the specialist knowledge dimension. A version of the competence dimension specialist knowledge based on learning psychology and political science was presented in 2010 in the book Concepts of Politics - a Competence Model (Weißeno et al.). The dimension is theoretically justified and specifically described in 30 specialist concepts with further constituent terms. The book describes the corpus of the technical language to be acquired in school at the three school levels. A pamphlet written on this was presented in 2011 by a group of authors on subject didactics. Eight authors present their respective didactic ideas. On the last pages, they jointly outline their model of specialist knowledge. In 2012, the already developed competence dimension of specialist knowledge (Weißeno et al. 2010) was expanded to include the three competence dimensions of political agency, political judgment, attitudes and motivation to form a theoretically based overall model of political competence (Detjen et al. 2012). The authors are thus implementing their announcement from 2010 (Weißeno et al.). The model is being revised in the dimensions of political judgment and political agency (Manzel & Weißeno 2017). The revision is necessary after the theoretical model of scientific policy didactics has been developed on the basis of the competence construct (Weißeno 2015, 2017). Lately, political education has increasingly dealt with populism, especially right-wing populism. The handling of feelings in political education is discussed here in particular. At the beginning of 2019 there was the "Federal Civic Education Congress" on this topic by the Federal Agency for Civic Education, the German Association for Civic Education and the Federal Civic Education Committee in Leipzig. In addition, various publications on the topic were published (cf. Besand et al. 2019).

Political education in Austria

In Austria, political education in schools is primarily anchored as a so-called teaching principle. The basic decree from 1978, updated in 2015, defines three pillars of political education:

  1. Political education as an independent subject or as a combined or area subject (in lower secondary level as part of the subject of history and social studies / political education).
  2. Political education through school participation of students.
  3. Political education as an interdisciplinary teaching principle that is intended to pave the way for democratic competencies in all subjects .

However, the implementation of the teaching principle is often criticized because teachers are not sufficiently trained or do not know the teaching principle.

Political Education and Web 2.0

Political education and Web 2.0 has been an issue for years. Edupolis.de started more than ten years ago and wanted to make the participatory elements of the internet usable for political education and is no longer online.

The European Civic Education Foundation, located in Hungary, operates a German-language Web 2.0 project for political education.

Numerous party-affiliated foundations now offer webinars and organize related conferences. The Federal Agency for Civic Education organized a conference on the subject of Web 2.0 and civic education, at which political educators and internet activists discussed the possibilities of the internet . Jöran Muuß-Merholz proposes that we are experiencing “a fundamental cultural transformation” through the Internet. Among other things, there are two demands by Muuß-Merholz:

  1. Political education must see itself as a platform for exchanging ideas about the upcoming transformations.
  2. Political education must use Web 2.0 as a tool.

Political education in the German Bundeswehr

In the Bundeswehr , political education is one of the pillars of the leadership concept Innereführung. For this reason, political education is also an integral part of the model of citizens in uniform as well as teaching in the German armed forces. As the central educational institution of the Bundeswehr , the Inner Guidance Center is in charge of political education, the actual design of which is incumbent on the military superiors. In addition, the Federal Agency for Civic Education coordinates and initiates the so-called Political Education Network in the Bundeswehr in order to combine the competencies of various educational institutions for the Bundeswehr and its members.

Didactic principles of political education

Methods of political education

Alternative approaches

Institutions of political education

See also


  • Ahlheim, Klaus : right-wing extremism - ethnocentrism - political education , Hanover: Offizin Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-930345-98-4
  • Ahlheim, Klaus / Johannes Schillo (eds.): Political education between formation and enlightenment , Hannover: Offizin Verlag, 2012, ISBN 978-3-930345-96-0
  • Author's group subject didactics (ed.): Concepts of political education. A polemic. Series of publications by the Federal Agency for Civic Education Vol. 1141. Schwalbach / Ts .: wochenschau-Verlag.de, 2011
  • Beer, Wolfgang et al. a. (Ed.): Handbook of political adult education , Schwalbach / Ts .: Wochenschau Verlag, 1999
  • Besand, Anja; Overwien, Bernd; Zorn, Peter (Ed.): Political education with feeling. Bonn: BpB 2019
  • Marco Bonacker and Gunter Geiger : Consensus and Crisis. Political education as a task of church responsibility (Church and Society Green Series No. 451, published by the Catholic Central Social Science Center) . JP Bachem Medien, Cologne 2018, ISBN 978-3-7616-3279-6 .
  • Breit, Gotthard / Schiele, Siegfried (Ed.): Democracy needs political education. Schwalbach / Ts .: Wochenschau Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-89974-157-9
  • Detjen, Joachim : Political Education. Past and present in Germany , Munich: Oldenbourg 2007 online
  • Detjen, Joachim , Peter Massing, Dagmar Richter & Weißeno, Georg (2012): Political competence - a model. Wiesbaden: Springer. doi: 10.1007 / 978-3-658-00785-0
  • Diendorfer, Gertraud / Steininger, Sigrid (Hrsg.): Democracy education in Europe. Challenges for Austria. Inventory, practice, perspectives . Schwalbach / Ts .: Wochenschau-Verlag, 2006, ISBN 3-89974-247-8
  • Edelstein, Wolfgang / Fauser, Peter : Learning and living democracy. Report on the program , Bonn 2002
  • Engartner, Tim : Didactics of economics and politics lessons . Paderborn / Munich / Vienna / Zurich: Schöningh - UTB, 2010
  • Gagel, Walter : History of Political Education in the Federal Republic of Germany 1945–1989 / 90. 3rd revised and expanded edition. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-531-31426-2
  • Giesecke, Hermann : Didactics of political education. 10th ext. Ed., Juventa Verlag Munich 1976, ISBN 3-7799-0531-0 ( PDF )
  • GPJE (Society for Political Didactics and Political Youth and Adult Education): National educational standards for subject teaching in political education in schools. A draft , Schwalbach / Ts .: Wochenschau Verlag, 2004 ( Download (pdf) )
  • Himmelmann, Gerhard: Learning democracy as a way of life, society and rule. A textbook and study book , Schwalbach / Ts. 2001
  • Hufer, Klaus-Peter / Pohl, Kerstin / Scheurich, Imke (eds.): Positions of Political Education , Vol. 2. An interview book on extracurricular youth and adult education . Schwalbach / Ts .: Wochenschau Verlag, 2004
  • Lange, Dirk / Kaiser, Astrid : Early Concepts of Political Education in Subject Classes (from 1970). In: Kaiser, Astrid / Pech, Detlef (ed.): History and historical conceptions of the subject teaching. Basic knowledge of subject teaching Volume 1. Baltmannsweiler: Schneider 2004, pp. 166–169
  • Lange, Dirk / Reinhardt, Volker (eds.): Basic knowledge of political education. Manual for social science teaching , 2 volumes, Schneider Verlag Hohengehren, Baltmannsweiler 2017
  • Manzel, Sabine, & Weißeno, Georg (2017): Model of political judgment - a dimension of political competence. In: M. Oberle & G. Weißeno (Eds.): Political Science and Political Didactics - Theory and Empiricism (pp. 59–86). Wiesbaden: Springer. doi : 10.1007 / 978-3-658-07246-9_5 .
  • Mayo, Peter: Political education with Antonio Gramsci and Paulo Freire: PerspHermann Gieseckeektiven a changing practice , Argument-Verlag, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-88619-280-6
  • Mende, Janne / Müller, Stefan (Ed.): Emancipation in political education. Theories, concepts, possibilities . Schwalbach / Ts .: Wochenschau Verlag, 2009
  • Negt, Oskar : The political man. Democracy as a way of life , Göttingen, 2010, ISBN 978-3-86521-561-1
  • Overwien, Bernd ; Rathenow, Hanns-Fred (Ed.): Globalization calls for political education. Political learning in a global context . Leverkusen-Opladen 2009
  • Pohl, Kerstin (Ed.): Positions of Political Education , Vol. 1. An interview book on political didactics . Schwalbach / Ts .: Wochenschau Verlag, 2004
  • Reinhardt, Volker (Ed.): Effective Political Lessons. Schneider Verlag, Hohengehren, Baltmannsweiler, 2018, ISBN 978-3-83401-908-0
  • Reinhardt, Sibylle : Political Didactics: Practical Guide for Secondary School I and II , 2005, ISBN 3-589-22051-1
  • Richter, Dagmar (Ed.): Political education from the beginning. Learning about democracy in elementary school. Series 570, Bonn: Federal Agency for Civic Education, 2007
  • Rößler, Sven: Position paper on the discourse conference 'What does critical political education mean today?' In: Teaching Politics. Journal of the German Association for Political Education Lower Saxony. Issue 1/2012, pp. 33–37 ( ISSN  0930-2107 , PDF )
  • Sander, Wolfgang : Politics at school. Brief history of political education , Marburg 2004 (3rd edition 2012, ISBN 978-3-89472-228-9 )
  • Sander, Wolfgang (Ed.): Handbook of political education . 3., completely redesigned. Ed., Wochenschau Verlag, Schwalbach / Ts. 2005, ISBN 3-87920-613-9
  • Vorholt, Udo : Institutions of Political Education. A systematic overview , Frankfurt 2003, ISBN 3-631-51373-9
  • Weißeno, Georg (Hrsg.): Lexicon of political education , 3 volumes, Wochenschau Verlag, Schwalbach / Ts. 1999/2000, ISBN 3-87920-042-4
  • Weißeno, Georg (Hrsg.): Political competence. What lessons have to do. Wiesbaden 2008: VS-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-531-15882-2
  • Weißeno, Georg, Detjen, Joachim, Juchler, Ingo, Massing, Peter & Richter, Dagmar: Concepts of politics - a competence model. Bonn 2010: Federal Agency for Civic Education. Full text in the FIS Education Literature Database
  • Weißeno, Georg (2015): Construction of a political didactic theory. In: Georg Weißeno, & Carla Schelle (eds.): Empirical research in social science subject didactics (pp. 3–20). Wiesbaden: Springer. doi : 10.1007 / 978-3-658-06191-3_1 .
  • Weißeno, Georg (2017): Political didactic theory formation - an epistemological orientation. In: Monika Oberle & Georg Weißeno (Eds.): Political Science and Political Didactics - Theory and Empiricism (pp. 1–16). Wiesbaden: Springer. doi : 10.1007 / 978-3-658-07246-9_1 .
  • Zippelius, Reinhold : Law and Justice in the Open Society , 2nd edition, chap. 12: Acceptance through insight , Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 1996, ISBN 3-428-08661-9

Web links


  1. Aristotle, Politik V 1310b: "Because the most useful [...] laws are useless if the citizens are not used to the constitution and are not educated in it.", Cicero: In Verrem II 3, 161.
  2. See also the story Der goldene Spiegel by Christoph Martin Wieland (1772), in which the ineducibility of a wavering benevolent young ruler is the subject and public opinion is directly targeted.
  3. ^ Oskar Negt: The political man. Democracy as a way of life , Steidl Verlag, Göttingen, 2010, p. 515.
  4. In 1972/73, the Hessian minister of education, Ludwig von Friedeburg , had framework guidelines drawn up for a new subject of social studies, which met with fierce opposition.
  5. Munich Manifesto
  6. [1]
  7. [2]
  8. Teaching principle political education, basic decree 2015. Accessed on March 15, 2020 .
  9. Jakob Feyerer: The competent citizen? Considerations on the organization of political education in Austria . In: SWS-Rundschau . tape 55 , no. 1 , 2015, ISSN  1013-1469 , p. 48–64 ( ssoar.info [accessed March 15, 2020]).
  10. ^ Enlightenment 2.0, Civic Education - Lifelong, brain-friendly, intercultural and social teaching & learning
  11. Petra Kelly Foundation: The Web 2.0 and the Consequences ( Memento of the original from November 21, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Summary and video statements. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.petrakellystiftung.de
  12. Web 2.0 and political education
  13. Jöran Muuß-Merholz: "Shift Happens" - What Web 2.0 means for society and education. In: Praxis Political Education , 2010 issue 2, p. 86, online
  14. Jöran Muuß-Merholz: "Shift Happens" - What Web 2.0 means for society and education. In: Praxis Political Education , 2010 issue 2, p. 90, online
  15. http://www.bpb.de/partner/foerderung/139977/netzwerk-politische-bildung-in-der-bundeswehr
  16. see [3]
  17. ↑ List of publications. ( Memento of the original from January 22nd, 2015 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. In: gpje.de @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.gpje.de