Democratic Education in History: Ethics, Justice, and the Politics of Recognition
Nyckelord:democratic education, history, ethics, justice, identity politics, powerful knowledge
Democratic education is a controversial category in Denmark, particularly in the subject discipline of history: should we familiarize students with Danish culture and history, focus on their personal development and the art of living, or help them acquire skills for the labor market? These questions are related to the ethics of democracy and ask us to consider the “good life” and how we might recognize the valuable citizen. In this essay I argue that the ethics of democracy reduces democratic education to identity politics and eschews the question of democratic justice. In addressing this problem, I ask two questions: 1) How can we conceive of recognition in the educational setting as an issue of justice?, and 2) How can this conception be institutionalized as a curriculum principle? To address these questions, I first discuss Nancy Fraser’s status model of recognition and her three-dimensional theory of justice as it intersects with the subject discipline of history. I then discuss the conception of powerful knowledge in relation to the three-dimensional model, and finally I provide a list of suggestions for the knowledge content appropriate for democratic education in the subject discipline of history.