Democratic Pedagogy and Curriculum

In addition to how schools could model democracy, the participants discussed how teachers could use democratic pedagogies. One university professor explained her approach: ‘When I communicate with my student, I show my personal model how to cope with a conflict situation, how to argue without quarreling. I think that is the real democracy or the way of democratic communication’ (Saric). Another professor explained the need to ‘live’ democracy: ‘We need to live democracy, not to learn theoretically. We need to involve our students in making decisions to teach them about democracy, to live it’ (Malic). Another teacher educator instills in her students democratic pedagogies: ‘They have the social responsibility as educators to also raise the awareness of their students to become active social citizens by creating democratic dialog within the classroom setting’ (Daric).

In addition to using democratic pedagogy, there is a need to teach a democratic curriculum. ‘Even in the family from very early age, you have to teach them. This is socialization, and they have to be socialized to know democracy’ (Zoric). The content actually taught is important and has changed and expanded from the socialist era. ‘Then they have some additional subjects on different cultures and religions. I think this is good comparing to the previous period. I think for creating a new space for opening minds’ (Mijana). Although the content on different cultures and religions is a positive addition to the curriculum, the current history content is problematic.

Our history content—it’s not democratic. It’s still full of stereotypes, full of prejudice, full of implicit things, but also the teaching and the way they don’t support that the children actually think, argue and meet those with different opinions. (Berovic)

The need to integrate democratic ideas across the curriculum in addition to the Democracy and Human Rights course and Foundations of Democracy materials was discussed by two educators: ‘Yes they are good but not enough. In democratic teaching, the subjects need to go together in a democratic way, our integration is zero. Democracy as a subject needs to touch other subjects’ (Cehic). In addition, ‘I would much more work on integration of these ideas because I think science has something to do with democracy, just like biology can too’ (Saric). Although some participants believed teachers in BiH have a good understanding of democracy, others had less faith. ‘Sometimes we don’t know actually what democracy is. Then it is hard to teach it’ (Malic). According to Berovic, ‘If you have so much focus on memorizing facts that you say, “We don’t have time to develop critical thinking, because we have to teach so much content,” then you don’t understand democratic teaching.’ What follows in Chap. 5 is a review of how education has been used by local political elites to divide people into ethnic cylinders to engender hatred and stoke fears.


Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). (2011). Understanding the role of teacher policy and programing in fragility. Paper presented at the Third International Policy Dialogue Forum of the Task Force on Teachers for EFA, Bali, Republic of Indonesia, September 13-14.

Krogh, S. L. (2008). Making Bosnia-Herzegovina safe for democracy (with some help from the kindergartens). Democracy & Education, 18(1), 41-45.

Weinstein, H. M., Warshauer, S. F., & Hughson, H. (2007). School voices: Challenges facing education systems after identity-based conflicts. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 2(1), 41-71.

World Bank (2005). Reshaping the future: Education and postconflict reconstruction. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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