Educators come together to share lessons on democracy

published 25 July 2019 updated 6 August 2019

A book, written by EI President Susan Hopgood and former EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, entitled “On Education & Democracy; 25 Lessons from the Teaching Profession”, was launched by the co-authors during the EI Congress in Bangkok on the 23th of July at the opening of a special session devoted to democracy. On the 25th July, the two authors met with EI delegates and guests from across the world to sign copies of the book and discuss its lessons.

Member organisations in many countries are reporting attacks on democracy by authoritarians, including nationalist populists. It is becoming increasingly apparent that there are global connections between these anti-democratic forces. That helps explain why they are on the cutting edge of the use of new technology to spread disinformation and stampede public opinion.

“On Education & Democracy; 25 Lessons of the Teaching Profession” examines the contributions of education to defending and consolidating democracies through developing crucial competencies in students, including critical thinking, listening to others, engaging in discussions and otherwise being equipped for active citizenship. Van Leeuwen, in opening the democracy discussion outlined some of the education challenges if democracy is to be made more secure as well as the important role of trade unions, especially education unions, as vital democratic institutions in society.

Timothy Snyder, American historian and author of “On Tyranny; 20 Lessons from the 20th century” and several other books, in his forward to the book, argues that:

“Democracy depends upon a common world that we can all try to understand together. If the people are to rule, which is what democracy means, the people must see and grasp and share and improve the world around them.”

“All of this is possible, but none of it is automatic. Such a world can only be made by teachers and the schools and unions that support them.”

EI General Secretary David Edwards, in welcoming the book, said, “this is a crucial moment for EI as we contend with attacks that go beyond education and our unions to the foundations of democracy. “On Education & Democracy” is not a publication concentrating on a limited field or sector. The authors have gathered information from our ranks and put their experience and understanding into the preparation of something that speaks to all of us. It will serve EI as a living document that can generate discussion and motivate and inform action. I urge our education unions to make it available to their members. They should be of interest to every classroom teacher and be taken to heart.”

The publication is available on the Congress App in English, French and Spanish and can be accessed through the links below:

In English

In French

In Spanish