25 Lessons on Education and Democracy

published 9 October 2018 updated 10 October 2018

On the occasion of World Teachers Day, October 5th, Education International presented ‘25 Lessons on Education and Democracy’. The 25 lessons learned are linked to the 25 years of the existence of Education International.

Education International (EI) has published a poster on ‘25 Lessons on Education and Democracy’. On one side of the poster are the titles of lessons and, on the other side, a summary is found of each of them. A book by EI President Susan Hopgood and EI General Secretary Emeritus Fred van Leeuwen will be published in December. It will flesh out the lessons and give examples from member organisations.

A response to fading support for democratic values in countries around the world

The initiative is a response to the deterioration in democracy in many countries as manifested in assaults on the free press, the impoverishment of public services, growing inequalities and elitism, restriction on human rights and professional freedoms, as well as the rise of populism and the resurgence of racism and xenophobia.

The lessons serve as a reminder to all educators of the crucial role they play in enabling students to experience, promote, protect and achieve the values which constitute the basis of democracy and to help them to become active citizens able to make wise choices and influence the direction of their societies.

The lessons are the following:

1.         Educate for democracy

2.         Stimulate critical thinking

3.         Shape global citizens

4.         Do not be the obedient servant of the state

5.         Be aware of the thin lines between patriotism and nationalism

6.         Advocate gender equality, diversity and inclusion

7.         Protect the right to learn in one’s native language

8.         Burst internet bubbles and value privacy

9.         Embrace new technologies with prudence

10.       Question standardized testing

11.       Keep schools safe sanctuaries of learning

12.       Refuse to bear arms or wear police badges

13.       Oppose segregation

14.       Do not deny undocumented children access to schools

15.       Fight discrimination on grounds of gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, social background and sexual orientation

16.       Build resilience when inequality muffles voice

17.       Open the school to the community

18.       Protect education for the common good

19.       Keep the market at a safe distance

20.       Don’t let politicians interfere in the classroom

21.       Stand up for your rights

22.       Protect your democratic organizations and institutions

23.       Defend and extend your collective bargaining rights

24.       Insist on the application of international standards

25.       Be proud of your profession

Public-school systems are the best safeguard of democracy

National public school-systems are the best safeguard of democracy, however the ability of schools and universities to fulfil that role will depend on a strong and self-confident teaching profession.

“We know that educators around the world, whether they work in democratic, non-democratic or authoritarian environments are ready to play their part,” said EI General Secretary David Edwards.

Edward urged member organisations to continue to place a priority on democratic values and  “to take a stand when and where democracy is under attack, to initiate debates, take action and consider contributions schools, universities and education unions can make to achieve a sustainable democratic future for all”.

The poster listing the ‘25 Lessons’ plus explanatory notes for each lesson is available in three language versions: English, French and Spanish.

In December 2018, EI will publish a book on education and democracy, written by its President Susan Hopgood and General Secretary Emeritus, Fred van Leeuwen, exploring key democracy issues in education and joining together views, information and experiences that inspire the ‘25 Lessons’. However, the poster has already begun the discussion of the 25 lessons in some organisations.

The theme of both the poster and the book is the words of the great educator and philosopher, John Dewey, “Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife.”