Project-based learning: Fostering principles of democracy in classroom teaching
Learn from the example „Living in the City of Vienna“ how project-based learning fosters democratic education at Praxisschulen Vienna.
Favoriten is the 10th district of Vienna, where the Praxisschulen and the Vienna University of Teacher Education are located. It is located south of the inner districts, extends to the southern city limits and is the most populous of the city with about 200,000 inhabitants. About 10 percent of all Vienna’s residents live here.
After the Corona pandemic, the Children and Youth Forum Favoriten can take place again. During this event, students from Favoriten can present their ideas and wishes to the representatives of district politics. In this way, students have a real-life experience of democracy.
In preparation for this event, students engaged with life in the city of Vienna. The aim of the project-based learning was to develop interest in their own city, to get to know Vienna, to find out about life in Vienna and to deal with actual issues and problems in Favoriten and to jointly define a concern for district politics.
Democratic education at school is a basic prerequisite for a functioning democratic society. Students should develop democratic competencies. However, this is not only the imparting of knowledge about the history and foundations of democracy, but above all the creation of appropriate learning opportunities so that the desired affective-moral attitudes receive suitable stimulation, confirmation and development opportunities and can be learned, practiced and internalized.
Project-based learning offers students the opportunity to apply their skills in concrete and relevant contexts. Students gain experience with the problems and requirements of democratic processes. This is because democratic education is hardly carried out solely on the basis of textbook readings or frontal instruction by teachers. Thus, on the basis of concrete problems, learning about democracy as a form of life („I-reference“, „we-reference“) can best be linked with approaches to learning about democracy as a form of society and democracy as a form of rule (Himmelmann, 2016 p. 69).“
Project-based learning fosters, for example: the recognition of a fact, a problem; distinguishing between statements or facts; discussing different statements and contexts; investigating the background; critically examining a position or statement; arguing for or against a position; justifying one’s own position; reflecting & discussing; understanding the opinions and arguments of others; the ability to engage in dialogue, sensitivity and solidarity; organizing group work; taking over tasks; reliability, perseverance, diligence and conscientiousness; recognizing differences and conflicts; civil courage; sense of community(Himmelmann, 2016).
Himmelmann, G. (2016). Demokratie-Lernen – Eine Aufgabe moderner Schulen. In: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Demokratiepädagogik e.V. (Eds.). Hommage an die Demokratiepädagogik – 10 Jahre DeGeD. Berlin. 61-74.