Will Danish public schools be the next ideological battleground?

In the US, worried parents are taking over school boards. Could the same happen in Denmark?

It is a good thing, students learn about their country’s less beautiful areas of history. It is a good thing, attention is being targeted on oppressed groups, minorities, and vulnerable populations. It is part of a student’s school education to learn that life and history are nuanced and that all groups in society are not always treated equal – only by learning about the past can we look forward and try not to repeat the sins of the past and maybe even contribute to making the world a better place.

But it is problematic when the scales tip and focus is only on the sins of the white man and a country’s violation of fundamental humanity. A clear-eyed approach in dealing with multiple elements of the past should include teaching both the oppression of Native Americans and the ancestors of African Americans and the incredible progress that American history offers.

“The Danish public schools have an enormous responsibility for graduating democratically minded citizens who will take part in the Danish society – in a country that is held together, primarily because its so homogeneousity.

Not many places in the US are like that. Where I live, the school children know about countless Indian tribes, but hardly know why they celebrate Thanksgiving . And that’s problematic, because if we don’t know our own history, how can we relate to it? How, then, do we create a generation of citizens without guilt and shame, but with a nuanced awareness of the past, to gain the courage to go out into life uniting, side by side, with young people from other nationalities, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds to make life and society a better place?

Having an informed opinion about statues that symbolize oppression, books in school libraries that preach that a family consists of a father and a mother and a couple of blond kids – in a world that is constantly changing, is forming an opinion to a version of life, that is not one-eyed.

But when the attitude to what a family looks like is rooted in antiquated religious notions with Stone Age views, the Geist, many parents have when it comes to their children’s schooling, can be dangerous.

In the US, we see this especially clearly in rightwinged Christian circles, who try to get certain books banned from school libraries. This is particularly the case with books that have sexual scenes, or books with themes of homosexuality or other LGBTQIA+-community-related themes. Librarians and teachers live a life in fear these days – is school board members find they have exposed their kids to content that goes against their Christian beliefs they highjack the boards and change curriculum and library content according to their beliefs.

The school boards have great power in American schools and are elected for an entire school district, not to an individual school as is the case in Denmark. In America, you have to be an American citizen to run for the school board, in Denmark you just need to be a parent at the school to run. Fortunately, the structure of school boards in Denmark is different, otherwise that would be the blow and decline for a homogeneous Danish society.

The Danish public schools have an enormous responsibility for graduating democratically minded citizens who will take part in Danish society – in a country that is held together, primarily because of its homogeneousity. The Danish democracy is beautiful and works well, and fortunately the school board model also bears its mark.

Still, the individual schools will be challenged and tried in the future. There will be forces trying to shape the public schools in a direction that has a strong focus on religiously based values. Hopefully the implementation or imprinting of various radical teachings will not be able to take over or infiltrate the individual public school. Danish democracy is strong and, in contrast to the USA, the focus is on community and shared basic values, that might be the saving grace for the Danish public schools – and for Denmark.

Bliver folkeskolen den næste ideologiske kampplads?

I USA overtager rabiate elementer skolebestyrelser. Kan det samme ske i Danmark?

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