Knowledge, Skills and Attitude – Teaching Parliamentary Democracy by Simulations
Frank Burgdörfer, x3 Burgdörfer (Germany)
Heidi Ness, Ness GbR (Germany)
Western democracies rely on systems of checks and balances involving different institutions, among them parliaments. Their power and legitimacy depends on both credibility and public support. Thus making parliamentary democracy transparent and understandable is an essential aspect of teaching politics and enabling active citizenship – especially in our current period of political instability.
Active citizenship requires knowledge (about legal frameworks and procedures), practical skills (regarding the assessment of information, debating, and negotiation) as well as attitude (a sense of responsibility; the acceptance of other – possibly conflicting – interests; openness for unexpected solutions.)
Simulations are a perfect tool for training simultaneously all three aspects of active citizenship and thus strengthening the foundations of democracy. By creating a simplified (though in its essential features realistic) model of reality, they enable students to personally experience institutionalized decision-making. Taking personal responsibility and inter-acting face to face leads to a very intense learning experience. Facilitators have to prepare the process and provide all information necessary, to give orientation and assure authenticity throughout the process, and to evaluate and analyze the experience afterwards in order to frame it and to enable a sustainable impact.
We present basic features of different learning models and experience from more than one decade in the field. There cannot be an ideal way of facilitation, as there is necessarily a trade-off between necessary help and envisaged momentum. However, we suggest a set of guidelines and criteria for a holistic teaching approach in this sensitive area.
simulations, facilitation, democracy teaching, knowledge, skills, attitude