|Author(s)||Kirsten Scheel Nielsen and Jesper Froda|
|Editor||A. Ross, Learning for Democratic Europe|
Many educators focus on teaching children formal democratic skills; for example asking them to sit in a circle and make decisions on common rights and values, or teaching them how to debate and to conduct discussions with a chairman. We think that the most important thing is for children to learn and understand democracy as a basic belief that there is room for everybody's voice, and that this attitude is a part of a richer mutual life. However, these understandings can only be developed through children's own experiences, and can be developed only in an environment where the adults show the way. In practice this means allowing children to have an influence on the rules of the institutions they attend, on the educational content, and on the methods by which education is carried out. This is a learning process for the children, and it is important that it is made very clear to them when, on which level, and on what matters they can exert their influence. In this way they will understand that democracy is a way of life; a practical attitude rather than a formal element, and this basic understanding of democracy will be reflected in their daily life.