Cultivating student participation in the context of mock elections in schools
Practices and constraints in secondary education in the Netherlands
Keywords:learning democracy, mock elections, democratic student participation, secondary education
- Many governments in the EU and US promote democratic learning opportunities in schools
- Mock elections have a long tradition in several EU countries, including the Netherlands
- Coordinating teachers of the Dutch high schools in our sample want to increase student involvement in the organisation of mock elections
- Three main constraining factors identified are: limited resources for curriculum development; lack of a clear school-policy on citizenship education; and insufficient attention to relevant teacher competences in (post)initial training.
Purpose: In light of growing attention to promoting democratic learning opportunities in the EU and the US, this study provides insight into student opportunities to engage in the organisation of mock elections in Dutch high schools, and constraints that teachers identify in implementing mock elections.
Approach: A survey study was conducted. One fourth of Dutch high schools that organise mock elections through the National NGO for Democracy and Education participated.
Findings: Data analysis reveals clear discrepancies between the existing versus the desired (1) participation of student groups invited to the organisation of mock elections and (2) types of student involvement offered in our research population according to teachers. Main constraints that teachers identified are: limited resources for curriculum development; lack of a clear school-policy on citizenship education; and insufficient attention to relevant teacher competences in (post)initial training.
Practical implications: Our paper concludes with several suggestions for strengthening policies and practices on political and educational participatory practices in schools.
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