Danish education fosters young super-democrats
Study in Denmark editorial
By Thomas Alexander Hoelgaard
Denmark has the highest quality of democracy in the world. This is the conclusion of a new democracy barometer developed by German and Swiss researchers.
The barometer compares thirty well-established democracies on nine points: the protection of personal freedom; the rule of law; an active citizenship; a system of checks and balances; transparency; political representation; participation; competition and the ability to implement democratic decisions.
Denmark's top position is consistent with its ranking as one of the most equal and least corrupt countries in the world. It also ties in well with the overall confidence that Danes have in their political system and key decision makers. What's more, a recent international study shows that key principles of democracy are encouraged through the Danish way of teaching.
Let´s agree to perhaps disagree
One of the researchers behind the study, Professor Jens Bruun from the Danish School of Education at Aarhus University, says that the findings fit well with an overall goal of teaching in Denmark: to enable students to consider different perspectives and form their own opinions. This emphasis on critical thinking is cultivated through a learning environment with room for debate and disagreement.
“Any classroom teaching citizenship will always to some degree be based on the idea that students must learn to adapt to society's values. In Denmark, students learn not only about society's values and democratic principles, but also to question the basic assumptions underlying them”, says Jens Bruun.
Fostering a critical mind
“There is a world of difference between a teacher who enters the classroom, runs through a curriculum and says 'thank you for today' – and one who encourages students to discuss and critically process the material presented to them. The latter prepares students to deal constructively with real-life dilemmas and conflicting interest”, says Jens Bruun.
Danish schools a cradle for democracy
"As young people inherit their values from home, from school and from interacting with society, they too will eventually pass on their values to the next generation. As such, democracies arise from below and develop over time. They are essentially a way of life”.
The courage to put your ignorance on public display
For Danish students this is essentially how they have always been studying. For some international students, however, it can be quite challenging as they are suddenly expected to manage their own academic focus and ask inquisitive questions to their teachers.
Originality key to innovation and rewarding jobs
”We once had some Chinese students at Roskilde University who eventually all got great jobs in the US. When I later spoke to them they told me that studying at Roskilde was decisive in getting them the jobs, because they didn’t feel like one in a billion, but felt confident that they could come up with truly original answers”.
“International companies look for creative people who can truly think for themselves, collaborate and jointly develop innovative solutions. And these are key features of higher education in Denmark”.
The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) is an international comparative study conducted by The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).
The ICSS looks at the impact of globalization on political education in the 21st century. That is, students' understanding of democratic principles, cultural values, national identity and individual values and attitudes.
The study is based on more than 140,000 students from more than 5,300 schools in 38 countries as
ABOUT THE DEMOCRACY BAROMETER
The Democracy Barometer has been developed by Prof. Marc Buhlman from the University of Zurich and Prof. Wolfgang Merkel from the Social Science Research Center in Berlin.
By comparing 30 of the world´s most well-established democracies, the Barometer finds that Denmark and Finland have the highest quality of democracy, South Africa and Costa Rica the lowest.
ABOUT THE DEMOCRACY
The Democracy Barometer has been
developed by Prof. Marc Buhlman
from the University of Zurich and
Prof. Wolfgang Merkel from the
Social Science Research Center in
Berlin. By comparing 30 of the world´s
most well-established democracies, the
Barometer finds that Denmark and
Finland have the highest quality of
democracy, South Africa
and Costa Rica the lowest.
Top 6 democracies in the world:
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