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“No! Democracy is…”

Case study of a teacher that wants to teach democracy to their students.

We would like you to consider the following case study:

Eli, a senior teacher expert in democratic education, went to observe a citizenship education class of one of his younger colleagues, Sam. Sam was expected to help their eleven-year old students to develop democratic competences. In one of their classes, Sam wished for their students to learn about the concept of democracy. Sam conducted a brainstorm activity to introduce the discussion and asked their students what democracy meant to which their students provided different answers. Sam collected all those answers and wrote them on the blackboard. Sam finished writing, smiled and concluded: “No! You all got it wrong…! [students laughed] That is not democracy. Democracy is the system of government based on the belief in freedom and equality between people!”. In their notes, Eli reported feeling shocked.

Consider the case and think about the following questions:

  • What approach/approaches did Sam follow (education about/for/through democracy)? Why?
  • Consider the Council of Europe’s competences for democratic culture – what competences is Sam considering? What other competences is Sam overlooking?
  • Why do you think Eli reported feeling shocked? What approach do you think Eli would support?
  • Do you think Sam promoted democracy in their classroom?

Share your answers with your peers in the discussion below.

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Promoting Democracy in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Teachers

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