Logo: Deutsches Institut für Internationale Pädagogische Forschung


Promoting Democratic Competence for Action in a Multi-Cultural School Setting

Studying the discourse skills and intercultural competencies of teacher trainees, on the basis of learning and teaching sequences.

Project description

The project was initiated in the former Center for Education and Culture.

Democracy depends on the mutual respect of persons, the diversity of beliefs and the discourse on acceptable co-ordinations of interest. As the heterogeneity of the systems of norms and rules, including religious and world-view values, increases in consequence of migration processes, discourses become increasingly relevant and occasionally existential in democratic societies and in schools as part of society. 

As early as 1996, the Standing Conference of Ministers of Cultural Affairs recommended that the educational objectives of an ability to join discourse and intercultural competence should be regarded as key qualifications for all students. While it is easy to formulate such a demand, it is difficult to put these objectives into practice, as empirical studies of teachers and school managers reveal. They moreover prove the demand for a mandatory integration of intercultural education into teacher training curricula. 

Following our own research work, we theoretically developed two learning and teaching sequences that are equally structured but differ in their content, aimed at promoting an ability to join in discourse and intercultural competence. They were methodologically and didactically designed to be implemented in school instruction, in initial teacher training seminars and in further and continuing teacher training. The sequences pursue the general goal of contributing to an expertise for a model programme launched by the Bund-Länder-Commission for Educational Planning and Research Promotion, “Learning and living democracy” (Edelstein and Fauser 2001), which explicitly focuses on intercultural learning and intercultural co-operation. 

According to this expertise, school opportunities for intercultural learning can at best open the schools’ doors to the communities with regard to programmes of intercultural learning.
The first learning and teaching sequence deals with a conflict concerning the approval of an Islamic culture club in a community. This subject is related to the school as it was chosen as the location of the discourse.

The teaching and learning sequence is structured into three subsequent phases that can be broken down into further phases: 

  • A fictional planning game focusing on the decisions and  discourse of different characters holding different positions and arguments with regard to setting up an Islamic culture club, 
  • A theoretically orientated phase where the students are made familiar with the integrity of arguments, and the deduced and empirically proven standards, as well as being acquainted with strategies of non-integer argumenting, taking into account that “fair arguments require learning”, and
  • An application phase where the students recognise rule violations from real discourses in newspapers, and reasonably identify them.

The second learning and teaching sequence “tolerance is difficult focuses on a conflict caused by the religious motives of a female Islamic student. Here, the school is confronted with the task of weighing two principally equal fundamental rights that are both guaranteed by the basic law (constitution), that is an individual’s right to practice your religion and belief (see section 4, 1 and 2 of the Basic Law) and the statutory right of a school to educate – see section 7.1 of the Basic Law.

The teaching and learning sequences were conducted with teacher trainees, teachers and students, empirically accompanied and evaluated. The comprehensive data have in part been assessed and published.

Project details

Completed projects
until 9/2013
Department: Department of Education and Human Development
last modified Feb 16, 2015