Address: Blisterhaugveien 9 – 7079 Saupstad
Project: ‘Democracy in practice’ an elective subject in school
Working language during the project:
- Norwegian and English
Themes of the Council of Europe campaign “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:
- Making children’s and students’ voices heard
- Addressing controversial issues
- Preventing violence and bullying
- Dealing with propaganda, misinformation and fake news
- Tackling discrimination
- Improving well-being at school
Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:
Target group age range:
- 11 - 15 and 15 - 19
Level of education:
- Lower secondary education
Short description of the project:
I teach an optional subject called Democracy in practice, so this is not a project. But the students select each year options from a variety of subjects. In Norway, there is of course a general overall teaching framework on everything that we do as teachers in school. And there are laws to follow on everything we carry out as a school towards our students. These laws describe the students’ rights in education. The Norwegian educational directorate has provided a manual that forms the basis of the subject, but the approach is also local. Each city or local community can develop their own version of the subject, as long as it contains the above-mentioned benchmarks that connect the overall teaching goals.
In 2013, I was asked to begin teaching this subject because the socio-economic conditions of the local community that I work in has since the 70’s been poor. At the national level, this often results in different actions and programmes for enhancing and improving these conditions. This also happens in other parts in Norway, as well as other countries near Norway.
Our aim was to implement a set of ways for thinking and acting, and to reflect on what to teach young people from different backgrounds on the topics which are the focus of this conference. It is fundamentally about how we learn as human beings to behave nicely to each other, how to live good lives, and how we can make this possible. How should we teach the different topics on the competences of this conference? We have chosen to do this in a practical way. We believe the following: if young people want to have their voices heard, to be raised by adults to have good values, they have to have the right set of skills. We use practical tasks, related to their own age group, and topics related to their daily experiences. We also involve them in the decision-making that concerns them. If we are building schools or playgrounds, or different leisure activities, parks, roads, art inside or outside, in their communities, they are heard. We as adults take their opinions on board in our decisions. This is often done through youth-councils. But we also do this in the classroom. We also travel across Norway to learn about democracy, controversial issues and peace work. We teach topics in different institutions and to different people. For example, the Norwegian government has its own cursus on topics like this. We organise meetings with members of parliament, we visit and work on school projects and the teachings of the Nobel peace-centre in Norway, we visit Utøya and teach controversial issues at the European Wergeland Center. We visited the 22.July Centre and work on violent radical-extremism. We discuss subjects such as ‘what do children and young people need to grow up and have good lives?’. We work with city planners, various artists and politicians before they take their decisions. We also work, on the softer side, on how to live good lives. We do this by addressing the above-mentioned descriptions on competences.
To give young people a practical coping-toolbox on how to deal with the different obstacles they face both as young people and often as adults too. To teach them how to reflect upon different issues and within their own decision-making on topics and obstacles they will encounter.
- To enhance their ability to reflect on life issues that are important to young people.
- To give them the tools that help both in critical situations and in coping with daily life-situations.
We want to see our young people become robust and cope with their lives and aim to provide them that tools that will make this possible. The changes we hope for are in a way general, we want to contribute to our society through good teachings, and hope it rubs off on more people than those who sit in our classroom.
An average day on how we have to think as teachers on changes can be like this: you always have to adapt to various things throughout the school year, such as being on the alert with regard to what is happening in the world. The topics we are teaching cannot be taught without taking this into account. We live in a global world, and now that world is closer to all of us, mainly because of the internet. Everyone has the ability to get an update on almost anything just by ‘clicking’ on the world wide web. We as teachers and adult human beings need to be updated at all times with regard to how this world works if we are going be able to teach our children the good stuff!
Challenges you faced
If I do not get any students, I have no one to teach!
Time-frame of the project:
There are no estimated timeframe other than if the schools headmaster and his team decide to stop this elective subject.
Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:
None but the things that we use are similar.
Additional material provided by the school
This is a short ppt on how we do this with examples, I’m working on it as we speak, so there are some more slides coming if this is interesting for you to use.