Freitag, 16. Juli 2010

What did we learn from this blog?

First of all I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as we liked posting for you. The last question I try to answer is” what did we learn from this blog”, mainly to give you a short conclusion from all the posts we made.

For NRW we can conclude that the guidelines say that they want the pupils to be prepared for a life in a democratic society, therefore they shall learn how the economy works, what the political system looks like and what are the social differences and similarities between different groups of people. But as our own experiences showed the reality is sometimes very different from the guidelines, e.g. that most of the teenagers don’t know what the tasks of Bundestag, Bundesrat and Bundesgerichtshof are. In the NRW elections most parties want full-time schools and community schools and abolish student fees, what shows that most aren’t satisfied with the school system as it is now and want a clear change.

We concluded for NRW that the politic lessons aren’t the only reason for the low participation in elections and that factors like parents as an idol and politic as something “boring” make it hard for young voters to decide.

Comparing the guidelines from Germany with Texas we found out that in America the own history plays an important role for the curriculum, whereas in Germany we only do it in history lessons. What the pupils learn about economy, industry and ecology is almost the same in Germany as in Texas. Striking is the fact that they also include religious aspects in Texas, whereas in Germany we have no topic dealing with that. The main aims like making the pupils critical and active citizens of a democratic state are the same.

The politicians seem to be much more active in Texas than in Germany as we saw on the example of Ron Paul, who visited a college student to talk to him. In general the whole campaigning aspect seems much more important in America than in Germany. That may also be a reason for the young Germans to be bored by politicians, isn’t it?

The young voters of Texas think that it is their duty when they are older and often they don’t have a clear personal political belief. As I have also concluded for Germans the Americans are strongly influenced by parents, family and friends, what makes it difficult to build an own opinion. Striking is the fact that the Texans feel too much influenced by politicians that campaign in their schools, whereas I’ve got the impression that Germany would like that to get in contact with politics.

I hope you learned as much as we did by researching and posting and think about how important it is to show pupils how they can become active voters. Especially for us that want to become teachers it is a task that we have to fulfil.

Is there a connection between the politic lessons in school and the way young voters participate in elections in Germany?

In the 2008 Bundestag elections in Germany the participation was very low in general. But especially young voters between 18 and 25 weren’t active in these elections. The question I want to discuss now is whether the politic lessons have an influence on the low participation or not.

As we found out the guidelines of NRW (that are very similar to other Bundesländer) say that the general aim of the lessons is to make an active citizen out of every pupil. But when we take a closer look on the contents of the lessons we have to recognize that the political system and the elections are only a small part of the whole. But can we really criticize the ministers for this? From my point of view the politic lessons contain too much and have too much aims, therefore there isn’t enough time to talk about the important topic intensively.

As Katharina already explained to us in her post about the own experiences in school, there are topics missing that would be really helpful to become active and critical voters (e.g. the tasks of Bundesrat, Bundestag and Bundesgerichtshof).

But in fact we have to admit that although we miss some topics in politic lessons there are many other factors that keep the young voters away from the ballots. We have to take in consideration that the older people are an idol for the young ones and as I’ve already mentioned the participation was very low in general and for all other ages. Often parents don’t go voting and then their children don’t do either. In addition to that politicians rarely visit schools to talk about their work and their topics.

Here I’ve got a good example of a school that offers a politic course after school, in which the pupils that are interested can discuss about whatever they like that has to do with politics!

All in all I would conclude that the politic lessons in school may not be perfect, but it is not their task alone to prepare pupils for the elections. It is possible to offer an extra course or lectures from politicians after school to make pupils interested. Parents shall be a better idol for their children and start going to elections!

It is very important to go voting!!!!

Mittwoch, 14. Juli 2010

Social Studies and Politics in TX

Developing and understanding one’s political ideology is not easy, and usually does not happen overnight. For many students, that development may change with his or her environment, teachers and friends. Also, developing a political ideology is not the most important goal for many students. Many students believe political awareness and being politically active as an adult duty. Students, who often have these feelings, are unaware of their own personal political beliefs. Thus, many students tend to accept the views of their parents or close friends as their own. This process often concludes in a student labeling himself with one political party, while completely supporting views of another party. Accepting the political views of someone else, as one’s own without thought is a major concern for social studies teachers, since a goal of social studies teachers is to help create effective citizens and engage them in effective counsel regarding beliefs and values.

A recent statewide survey showed what Texans think about the intersection of politics and religion with public schools.

The survey showed that Texans are fed up with politicians influencing public schools to promote personal and political views. They want the state board and public schools to just educate Texas students and prepare them to succeed in college and their future careers.

“Texas voters – regardless of political affiliation or ideological views – agree that politics has no place in developing public school curricula,”... “Voters show strong support for ensuring that teachers and scholars can determine curriculum standards for public schools that provide a high quality education and prepare students for the future, without interference from partisan state board members.” (Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner -

Montag, 12. Juli 2010

NRW election 2010 - program for youth and education - challenge of the German school system

In this blog post I focus on the program for youth and education of different parties in relation to NRW’s elections. You will get a quick overview of the desired changes in the German school system…

CDU: The CDU wants to demagnify classes by 2015. The numbers of students reduce because of the demographic change. The party stands for individual advancement for children in the kindergarten and more full-time-schools. The members want to keep the “Hauptschule” and the tripartite school system.

FDP: Education is a key factor for the election. Education is civil right, that's why NRW should be education country number one by 2015. The FDP also stands for more individual advancement and full-time-schools. They prefer a public school ranking because competition makes quality.

SPD: A slogan of the SPD says: “Best education for everyone”. The party wants to abolish “Kopfnoten” in schools. Daycare facility for children should be free of charge. Student fees have to be abolished promptly. The favorite school model is: 6 years primary school in the sense of a community school.

Grüne: Die Grüne want to have a new school system like the SPD with a full-time-school so that the students learn longer together. "Kopfnoten" will be abolished. The schools themselves can decide if the abitur can be passed after 8 or 9 years.

Linke: Die Linke wants to introduce a community school of 10 years. Daycare facility for children and education at universities should be free of charge. Collective ethics lessons should become a required subject at school and religious education an optional subject.

Piratenpartei: There should be free access to information and education. They say that an investment in education is an investment in the future. The party is against education fees and against “Kopfnoten”.

Conclusion: Most parties prefer full-time-schools and community schools in which children learn together for a longer time than in today’s primary schools. Education is a civil right which must guarantee to enter schools and universities free of charge. Evaluations of students’ behavior are rather subjective and unjustified. The main aim of the favored change of the German school system is an intensive individual advancement for every student.

Ron Paul on Education

We now want to have a closer look on how far politicans in Texas influence the school system and how they persuate young voters. Since political campaigns in schools are much more popular in the U.S as they are in Germany, we could find hundreds of U.S. politicans to use as example.s Therefore I want to focus on Ron Paul in this post.

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican Congressman for the 14th congressional district of Texas and run for President of the United States in 1988 and 2008. He stands for limited, constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies. He is known among his congressional colleagues for his consistent voting record. Paul never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution.

He also thinks there should not be any federal control over education and education should be handled at a local and state level, Parents should have the right to spend their money on the school or method of schooling they think is appropriate for their children.

On November 14, 2008 Ron Paul said in a New York Times interview:

“First, the Constitution does not authorize the Department of Education, and the founders never envisioned the federal government dictating those education policies.

Second, it is a huge bureaucracy that squanders our money. We send billions of dollars to Washington and get back less than we sent. The money would be much better off left in states and local communities rather than being squandered in Washington.

Finally, I think that the smallest level of government possible best performs education. Teachers, parents, and local community leaders should be making decisions about exactly how our children should be taught, not Washington bureaucrats.

The Department of Education has given us No Child Left Behind, massive unfunded mandates, indoctrination, and in come cases, forced medication of our children with psychotropic drugs. We should get rid of all of that and get those choices back in the hands of the people.”

During his candidacy in 2008 there were several rallys and political campaigns throughout Texas. The following video shows Ron Paul visiting a college student in his dorm room:

For more information on Ron Paul you can visit the following website or watch the following video:

Ron Paul also is pro homeschooling and against public schools. What is your opinion on that topic?

Montag, 5. Juli 2010

Comparison of the curriculum guidelines of NRW and Texas



Democratic institutions in Germany, general principles, elections, parliamentarianism, constitutional state, human rights, political extremism

Principles and beliefs of the founding of the USA, structure, function and power of government, US constitution, different political ideas and forms of government, republicanism, federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances


Market processes, competition, concentration, social free market, globalization

Free enterprise system, strategic importance of places for economy


Industrialization, change of enterprises and work environment, new technology, provision of services and information, job prospects

Industrialization, work of enterprises, new technology, private enterprises


Ecological changes for policies and economy, innovation of ecological production

Ecological principles and ecosystems

Social Sciences:

Social assurance, social justice, social policy

Biblical and Christian traditions of Founding Fathers



Individual way of living, personal identity, values, changes and problems in modern society, problems and advantages of migration, experiences with different cultures


Individual human rights, importance of voluntary individual participation in society, impacts of individuals, political parties and interest groups on American political system



Role of the media in politics, chances of communication world-wide, media in the context of globalization


Impacts of media on the American political system



International policy, development, expectations, current problems of Europe, economical, cultural and political consequences of global processes, policy of peace and assurance


Role of globalization in financial crisis

Sonntag, 4. Juli 2010

Social Studies Curriculum in Texas

Following I will list a broad overview of topics that are supposed to be taught in Social Studies in Texas as well as in other states of the U.S. It includes early grades, middle grades, and high school:

I. Culture
II. Time, Continuity, and Change
III. People, Places, and Environments
IV. Individual Development and Indentity
V. Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
VI. Power, Authority, and Governance
VII. Production, Distribution, and Consumption
VIII. Science, Technology, and Society
IX. Global Connections
X. Civic Ideals and Practices

Generally, at the high school level, students take a broad variety of classes without special emphasis in a particular subject. For passing a classe some states consider 65 (on a 100-point scale), while others consider it to be as low as 60 or as high as 75.In social sciences students usally take various history, government and economics courses.State and local government have primary responsibility for education. The Federal Department of Education plays a role in standards setting and education finance. In Texas, the TEA (The Texas Education Agency) is responsible for public education and school curriculums.

The following document shows part of the proposed revisions to the social studies as approved by the State Board of Education on May 21, 2010:

(1) In United States Government, the focus is on the principles and beliefs upon which the United States was founded and on the structure, functions, and powers of government at the national, state, and local levels. This course is the culmination of the civic and governmental content and concepts studied from Kindergarten through required secondary courses. Students learn major political ideas and forms of government in history. A significant focus of the course is on the U.S. Constitution, its underlying principles and ideas, and the form of government it created. Students analyze major concepts of republicanism, federalism, checks and balances, separation of powers, popular sovereignty, and individual rights and compare the U.S. system of government with other political systems. Students identify the role of government in the U.S. free enterprise system and examine the strategic importance of places to the United States. Students analyze the impact of individuals, political parties, interest groups, and the media on the American political system, evaluate the importance of voluntary individual participation in a constitutional democratic republic society, and analyze the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Students examine the relationship between governmental policies and the culture of the United States. Students identify examples of government policies that encourage scientific research and use critical-thinking skills to create a product on a contemporary government issue.

On May 21th the Texas State Board of Education approved new standards for textbooks and teaching history, economics and other social studies classes that will take effect in August 2011. The new standards stand for a greater focus on the Biblical and Christian traditions of the founding fathers. Some other changes affect the teaching of free market principles and taxation.

This decision caused a great dicusssion that is sumarized in the following video:

What do you think?