Enabling young people to participate in society in a self-determined manner, to actively and responsibly help shape democracy – that is the main goal of political education in schools. They should learn to take responsibility for themselves and others, for nature and the environment. They should meet people of different origins and convictions without prejudice, get to know the values of different cultures, and stand up for peaceful, non-discriminatory coexistence.
Political education more important than ever
In view of the current political and social mood, political education is more important than ever. Because the general political weather situation – nationally and internationally – is characterized by turbulence. You see how one can win people over with blunt xenophobia and the targeted use of fake news, that political parties, whose attitude to liberal democracy can be argued about, achieve enormous gains in elections. That should make you think. Because the past teaches you, just like a look over the fence, that democracies are often successively eroding without being noticed by many.
Education for democracy
Political education, especially education for democracy should start with the social reality and the concrete everyday reality of young people. It should be imparting knowledge about the values and norms on which it is based. It should, at the same time, be education through democracy, and schools and lessons should become a space of lived democracy, in which everyone can exercise the right to democratic participation, in which free and equal – but also different in their interests and identities – recognize each other. And it should be education for democracy, empower people to realize their own rights and stand up for the rights of others, resolve conflicts peacefully, and find compromises. Just like businesses such as carcover.com must enjoy their rights in managing their businesses.
In order for civic education to achieve all of this, it must be given sufficient space in everyday school life. It has to be up to date, use new communication media, social networks, and innovative formats in order to appeal to the students and not be perceived as out of date. Furthermore, political education must not be perceived as an appendix, as a “nice to have” in school, but should represent a fundamental component of school education, teacher training, and school development.