Political Education in Vocational Schools: Update and Perspectives
bpb/KMK Symposium, 2nd December 2019, Representation of the Hessian State, Berlin
This year’s annual symposium by bpb and KMK focused on political education in vocational schools. Starting points identified in “Monitor berufliche Bildung” (Besand 2014) composed the origin and thematic foundation of the symposium. These starting points were (amongst others):
- focus of central finals and frameworks
- perspectives on didactic conception of vocational civic education
- perspectives on education and training of teachers of vocational civic education
- heterogeneity of learners as challenge in vocational schools
- the importance of political education in vocational schools in the face of anti-democratic tendencies and political polarisation
There was critical reappraisal and examination in form of keynotes, podiums and working groups, without losing a realistic optimism to look ahead. As regards content, the working group “Work-related political education” contributed substantially with input to the symposium.
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Symposium Politics at “Hochschultage Berufliche Bildung 2019”
The 20th “university- days of vocational civic education” 2019 in Siegen (Germany) focused on “digitalisation”. As part of this event the working group “Work-related political education” hosted a symposium from 12th - 13th March 2019 on “political education in vocational schools in context of a digitalised working world”.
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The working group „Work-related political education“ was founded within the framework of the 19th Hochschultage Berufliche Bildung following the symposium „Politics and economics“ on March 13th. Between the 10th and 12th October 2018 the kick-off conference of the working group took place at the Georg-August University of Göttingen, during which the fundamental orientation, common goals and positions as well as the further steps of the working group were discussed. The annual meeting of the GPJE as well as the biennial symposium „Politics and economics“ during the University Days Vocational Education act as a structural framework for the purpose of establishing contact, communication as well as cooperation. These forums should particularly serve as an introduction and discussion of running projects and works.
Work-related political education
Measured by the numbers of students, vocational schools are the largest school of further education in Germany. The subject Politics, Economics, Social or Community studies, which is summarized as „Political education“ in the following, is traditionally of high importance with in these types of schools, which has not been questioned yet. Politics is the only generally educating subject, embedded institutionally in all dual vocational courses through the final exam „Economics and Social studies“. In addition, the education-theoretical interlinking of political and vocational education (Kerschensteiner 1901) has a long history. But solely the plausibility of such a connection has not proven sufficient which is why research in political education and political educational processes at vocational schools is very seldom. Only thanks to some tireless individuals, such as Peter Weinbrenner or Eberhard Jung, who had continuously addressed arising questions of this education area and expanded the stock of literature via the symposiums of the University Days Vocational Education in the 1980s and 1990s, the working group can rely on a professional base.
Research perspective: More recent research has mostly assumed independent project initiatives, which hardly referred to each other. That is why the working group pursued the creation of a larger coherence of research work concerning work-related political education in order to make the education more visible. For this purpose, it is focused on the following aspects:
- a contentwise pooling and coordination of research questions in order to be able to develop focal points of the field
- a cooperation between different locations to discuss regional aspects and perspective in a comparing manner
- a systematic processing of already existing theoretical approaches, concepts and findings
- concentrating the taught research methodical as well as lesson-practical expertise at the locations in order to make them visible to third parties (e.g. lesson coverage, Grammes)
- creating a research base for challenges of political education within the working world and vocational education
Further, for a contentual design, it seems necessary to consider if political education at vocational schools requires other related sciences than the ones already known from general education schools. A broadening of perspective could help with respect to relevant related sciences to specify the essence of the subject.
Higher educational didactic perspective: Due to the high number of students at vocational schools, a high number of well-trained politics teachers is required. As a consequence, the working group „Work-related political education“ emphasizes insistently that professors need to attribute more significance to the political-didactic education of student teachers for the professional position of a teacher. Regarding this, first considerations are:
- The field of tension „profession-working world-politics“ should be thematized consistently within the teacher training, implemented (as a course) and specified (socioscientifically).
- On an academic level, a meaningful interlinking between political education and the training profession can be managed through seminar papers and final exams, in which professional or working world related requirements and issues are addressed from a socioscientific perspective.
- Although a systematic and comparative presentation of location-specific curricula did not occur during the kick-off conference, it became clear within the discussions and presentations that a field-specific practical reference (political education at vocational schools) is highly relevant for the learning group (becoming vocational school teachers).
The kick-off conference of the working group took place from the 10th to 12th October 2018 at the Georg August University Göttingen.
Dr. Martin Kenner
Institut für Erziehungswissenschaft
Abt. Berufs- und Wirtschafts- und Technikpädagogik (BWT)
Phone: (+49)711 685 83187
Zentrum für Arbeit und Politik (zap)
Zentrum für die Didaktiken der Sozialwissenschaften (ZeDis)
Phone: (+49)421 218 56709
Prof. Dr. Anja Besand
Professur für Didaktik der politischen Bildung
Institut für Politikwissenschaft
Technische Universität Dresden
Gerberbau Bergstraße 53, D‑01062 Dresden
Phone: (+49)351 46335050
Secretary: (+49)351 463 35827