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Educating voters: political education in Norwegian upper-secondary schools

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Abstract:

Research on political education in schools suggests that an emphasis on formal structure, constitutional principles, formal citizen rights, and debates on current issues is common. The Norwegian national curriculum on political education envisions a different political education emphasizing that students should be critical of political life and social structures, that they should be familiar with democratic ideals, learn how they may influence by means of various forms of political participation, and be motivated to do so. I examine whether these ambitions are realized at the classroom level. Based on qualitative interviews and classroom observations I conclude that Norwegian political education is centred on political parties and on an attempt to help students find out which party is closest to their preferences. Political education takes the form of voter training for competitive elite democracy.

Keywords: Norway; citizenship education; civics; political education; social studies

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00220270701774765

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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