Democracy and education for democracy play only a marginal role in European teacher training. This conclusion was made by researchers of education for democracy from eight European countries in the book Teacher Education and the Development of Democratic Citizenship in Europe
“Even though the development of democracy through the education system is considered a central goal in all countries, the beautiful words are not put into practice,” says one of the book’s editors, Senior Lecturer Matti Rautiainen
from the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Jyväskylä.
The phenomenon is European-wide. The book studies democratic citizenship and democratic culture in teacher training all over Europe from the perspective of twenty competences for democratic culture defined by the Council of Europe. The authors discussed the topic country-specifically but also in relation to competences for democratic culture defined by the Council of Europe. At the level of speech and the fundamentals of education, the competences are at the core of teacher training in all countries, but the gap between theory and practice is significant. Moreover, the group of developers and researchers is small.
“The slow establishment of democracy in teacher training raises the question of how well teacher training is responding to the threats of democracy or new activism, which may originate from activity against climate change,” says Rautiainen and continues: “The answer is ‘very badly’.”
The historical development of cultural characteristics makes the growth into democratic citizens unique in each country. The cultural engagement was clearly visible in relation to competences of democratic culture, which were focused differently in different countries. In the future, it is important to focus on those characteristics of democratic culture that are represented most poorly in education.
Teacher education is a vital contributor to the development of democratic societies. The bright spots of the book include grassroots-level experiments that represent the efforts of individual teacher educators, not of a culture adopted by institutions.
Raiker, A. Rautiainen, M & Saqipi, B. 2020. Teacher Education and the Development of Democratic Citizenship in Europe
. Routledge: London. https://www.routledge.com/Teacher-Education-and-the-Development-of-Democratic-Citizenship-in-Europe/Raiker-Rautiainen-Saqipi/p/book/9780367141493