What kind of society do we want our children to live in? For many of us, democracy mirrors some of the ideals of a society in which we are all in an equal position to have a say. But in recent times, we have seen how democracy is in crisis: growing inequalities, the rise of xenophobic and racist attitudes, increasing distribution of fake news and use of hate speech on social media, and high levels of frustration and alienation particularly among marginalised groups and young people.
Teachers are essential to respond to these challenges. Education can open possibilities for building new, more democratic futures, and teachers have the unique opportunity and a responsibility to mirror democratic principles and to help new generations embrace democratic ways of life. But are universities preparing future teachers for this important role? Do teacher educators have the policy frameworks and the practical tools to prepare new generations of teachers to embed a democratic culture in their practices?
On 20 and 21 April, the project “Embedding a Democratic Culture Dimension in Teacher Education Programmes” organised a two-day seminar on the topic of promoting democracy through education policy and practice. The event brought together around 100 teacher educators, student teachers, education policymakers and education experts.
On the first day, the project partners presented the preliminary findings of their analysis on the integration of Competences for Democratic Culture in initial teacher education policies in Spain, Portugal and England. The first day also featured a keynote speech from Dr Diane Warner from Manchester Metropolitan University focused on stories of persistence among Black student teachers in England.
On the second day, participants discussed and further developed good practices and teaching resources for developing a culture of democracy in teacher education in the three countries. Dr Andreas Mårdh and Dr Ásgeir Tryggvason from Örebro University (Sweden) gave a keynote speech on the role of care and authenticity as important pedagogical principles for democratic education.
Participants highly appreciated the setting up of the conference in two days, one dedicated to education policy, and the other to education practice.
The project Embedding a Democratic Culture Dimension in Teacher Education Programmes is funded by the CoE/EU Joint Programme Democratic and Inclusive School Culture in Operation (DISCO) and implemented by Manchester Metropolitan University, Lisbon Polytechnic Institute and Autonomous University of Barcelona. It aims to develop a framework to integrate the Competences for Democratic Culture into primary teacher education programmes of participating institutions.
Find here the detailed event programme.