The vibrant student participation at Viborg Katedralskole in the wider life of the Danish community continues to delight and impress. The Danish election is on the 15th September and students are very actively engaged, in a variety of platforms, with the political dialogue of the nation.
Yesterday, all nine political parties appeared in the school assembly hall to debate the election issues and answer student questions. I have never witnessed such an event, pre-election in NSW and feel the benefits to students would be enormous. I felt a little frustrated not to be able to understand the debate, obviously carried out in Danish but can offer a number of observations about the event:
1. The candidates were lined up, on the stage, seated from left to right befitting their political ideology. This was such a clear visual cue for students in the process of deepening their understanding of politics
2. Students clapped and cheered points well made. There was no heckling, booing or negativity, occasionally some laughter but in good spirit. There was friendly interaction amongst the politicians and laughter. Watching the two young politicians, sitting at completely opposite ends of the stage, interacting good naturedly, was wonderful.
3. Students had many questions and there was not enough time for everyone to make their points. It was a thoughtful process that Finn, a teacher, chaired.
There seems to be a genuinely higher level of engagement with politics than I have witnessed in Australian or British schools here. Regular readers of my blog know that the former Prime Minister and current Secretary General of NATO appeared at his old school last week and answered many questions from the students. On Sunday night there is another event for students at the school, ‘Politisk Fight Night‘. I look forward to attending and admire the level of organisation the students managed using Facebook invites. I was happy to be included
Colleagues, students and wikipedi have been helping me understand the Danish political system and the positions of the nine parties contesting the elections but I am sure my understanding will deepen during the course of next week, as the leadership of the country is decided.