Connections between Quality of School Life and Democracy in German Schools
In: Sliwka, Anne; Diedrich, Martina; Hofer, Manfred (Hrsg.): Citizenship Education
Münster i.W. :
, S. 121-134
One of the major prerequisites for the functioning of modern democracies is that citizens possess democratic action competencies, i.e. they are politically educated, are supportive for the political system and have the willingness and ability to engage in civil affairs. Schools are among the most important socialization agencies to make students acquire these competencies. Schools do so by delivering political knowledge in classes of political education, and - even more important - by making up a culture that enables students to experience the meaning of democratic processes, both on the level of classroom interaction and on the level of the entire school life. On the basis of a sample from 43 schools taking part in the German school reform programme "Learning and living democracy", the article examines the connections between students' democratic action competencies and features of school and classroom life. It is shown that there are systematic differences between students' perceptions from schools with low and high levels of democratic action competencies, respectively, concerning students' opportunities to participate in the classroom and in the school life, their sense of efficacy in discourse and the level of democratization of the school. No systematic connections between teachers' reports about the school culture and students' competencies could be found. Thus, it is argued that not only explicit teaching of political knowledge, but also the school culture and especially students' perceptions of interactions with teachers help to build up to competent future democrates.
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