Democracy wants to be learned. In an aging society much more needs to be done for the political education of young people at the schools.
The number of young people is declining and their political weight is falling. It is therefore all the more important that young people can become conscious and active citizens in society and the state – a task for political education!
Democracy learning does not happen in everyday life and by itself, except for a few young people in a political environment (in politically interested families and with politically active friends). They are an additional aid to the school, but they are not dependent on their political education for appropriate teaching. But they are the exception, for the great majority of young people it is quite different!
In everyday life we move as social beings, we live with others and pursue common goals and ideas. This social cohesion is self-evident, otherwise we could not exist. But the irritant is that social learning does not lead to political learning at the same time.
For example, in a recent study in Germany, KiJuB Berlin asked around 1500 young people whether they agreed with the following statement: “A viable democracy is unthinkable without political opposition.” Yes, about 70 percent of respondents agreed – so far so good. But two-thirds also agreed with this statement: “The task of the political opposition is not to criticize the government but to support it in its work.” They therefore demand cooperation, where conflict is the meaning of the thing! They advocate democracy, but they have an idyllic notion that democracy is a cuddling corner.
Arguing can be learned
How can this be explained? In our everyday communities, we live together and share common goals and ideas. This social closeness is characterized by harmony, to which we return in different contexts – or we separate. It is quite different in political democracy, in which the framework conditions for our social life are set. It is argued here: the competition for goals and ways, as well as the struggle for majorities for decisions, make democracy.
A dialectical relationship of conflict in the matter and consensus about the civilized carrying out of these conflicts preserves democracy. We can not get out, because we remain citizens, even if we are apathetic. The processes are often frustrating (one must be able to lose and still carry on), the connections are often very opaque (who can already understand the Ukraine conflict in its many conflict lines) and each of us is just one of millions with the same Rights and equal dignity.
What can school do? How can we achieve those who do not grow up on the sunny side of political interest and political participation? She will hardly be able to achieve any kind of instruction, for a political success is not easy to grasp, and certainly not just by listening. Two elements must be linked: action and reflection. Action is important because it takes the young people with them and makes them active. Reflection is important because it can point to a responsible direction, and because it makes it possible to act through insights into political mechanisms.