Diversity and Citizenship Education: Global Perspectives

By James A. Banks | Go to book overview

9
ETHNIC DIVERSITY AND
CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION
IN GERMANY
Sigrid Luchtenberg

CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION (Staatsbürgerkunde or Staatsbürgerliche Erziehung) has a long tradition in the German school system. It has existed since the late 19th century with a democratic approach in the Weimar Republic, 1919 to 1933. Its aim was to develop a positive attitude in young people toward the state and a responsibility for it. After World War II, “re-education” was a major goal established mainly by the Allies in West Germany in order to prepare a democratic political culture in Germany. This explains a focus on antifascist education, which was also the case in East Germany. While the terminology changed in West Germany, where Staatsbürgerliche Erziehung (citizenship education) was soon replaced by political education, Staatsbürgerkunde remained the official name in the German Democratic Republic until 1989 (Dümcke, 1999; Sander, 1999). Critical reflection did not become a main part of political education in West Germany until the late 1960s.

Political education in school aims to develop a critical reflection about political structures, the establishment of a democratic system of values, and the socialization of democratic citizens. Most of the 16 states in the Federal Republic of Germany have explicit recommendations for political education in their school laws, but only 4 require political education in their constitutions (Reuter, 1999). The German unification in 1990, the development in Europe, and to a certain extent the discussion about the (dis) advantages

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