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Basic Course 3: Fundamental Methods for Lessons in Politics

Besides didactic principles (Basic Course 2) the methods for the main tools of political teaching count. They appear at the centre of this set of topics, which complements the Main Subject Group "Teaching Politics". Whereby the tasks and aims of political education are dealt with there, the practical tools used for teaching politics are presented here.

Definition: Methods are processes which are meant to permit teachers and pupils to deal with a topic which allows them to attain new knowledge, views and competences.

All methods have their strengths and weaknesses. Some favour a particular method to a specific degree, others find absolutely no appeal in it. There are - and this is decisive - various way of learning. For this reason it is imperative to use various methods in school and in seminars.

Central: Change of Method

In relation to seminars, but wholly applicable to politics lessons in school, Günther Gugel names four important reasons for using a variety of methods.


"The central key to learning is to alternate phases of concentration and relaxation. The application of various methods can also, in addition, make a large contribution to this.


Not all participants deal with a topic in the same manner. Using a variety of methods can take different types of learning into consideration.


A single tone and uniformity (for instance, just talking) can be tiring and demotivating. A change of method can create new drive.


Not just the person leading the seminar, but also the participants carry responsibility for the events in the seminar. Only the application of manifold participant-oriented methods allows strong integration of the participants."

[Source: Günther Gugel, "Praxis politischer Bildungsarbeit" (Practicing Political Education Work). Methods and Working Aids, Institute for Peace Education Tübingen, 4. 1996 edition, p. 12]

Check List for the Using Methods

The method must fit the learning group and the situation, and also the learning aims. In addition also decisive is that they fit those teaching, in terms of his skills and working style. Over and above this Günther Gugel has formulated as series of questions that can be helpful when selecting a method.


"Do the contents and methods link into the previous knowledge, attitudes and expectations in the behaviour of the participants?


Have the specific conditions of the make-up of the participants been taken into consideration in the selection of the method?


Do the methods contribute to kindling and maintaining the joy of learning?


Do the methods promote personal initiative and individually organised learning processes?


Do the methods allow for self-reflection and action?


Do the methods promote a multi-dimensional viewpoint of the questions and problems?


Are the methods oriented towards dialogue and discourse?


Do the methods take into consideration that learning should take place using your "head, heart and hands"`


Do the methods allow for individually experiencing skills?


Are the methods compatible with the openness of learning processes?


Do the methods contribute towards developing methodical skills in the participants?

[source: Günther Gugel, "Praxis politischer Bildungsarbeit" (Practicing Political Education Work). Methods and Working Aids, Institute for Peace Education Tübingen, 4. 1996 edition, p. 13]


The basic requirement for successful learning and learning processes is communication. We deal with this extraordinarily important aspect, with the rules of communication and the influence of body language within the framework of the set of topics dealing with peace education, because successful communication is also the key to solving dispute constructively, which is the core emphasis of each set of topics (... go to the Main Subject Group "Peace Education").

Fundamental Methods and Methods for Activation

It is impossible to present the complete diversity of methods within the framework of this topic. We will therefore limit ourselves to the particularly important and frequently practiced methods and manners of working. This basic course is dedicated to fundamental methods. We understand this to include methods of approach that appear in practically every seminar or lesson:


Delivery (delivery by the teacher, visualisation)


Discussion in the lesson

bullet Text analysis

Basic Course 4 following deals with methods for activation that are highly suitable in politics lessons, since, besides knowledge, they also and specifically communicate skills for action that are appropriate to the superordinate objectives of teaching politics.

... continue to Basic Course 4: Methods for Activating Lessons in Politics

[Author: Ragnar Müller]

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Methods:    Teaching Politics    II    Peace Education    II    Methods


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