Sunday, September 13, 2015

19th Forum 2000 Conference: Democracy and Education

“Democracy is no genetic information. It is not a mere social system. We need to learn democracy.” - Jakub Klepal, Forum 2000
19th Forum 2000 opening ceremony

English philosopher Roger Scruton addressing the opening panel of the 19th gathering of Forum 2000 titled "Are we naturally un-democratic" and addressed the question of democracy and education:
When we ask questions like this, are we naturally democratic? And what is the place of the democratic ethos in education? We realize that we are pulled between two competing forces. “Competition it seems to me has two different forms, one the natural form, the other the artificial form that we are all hoping for. The natural form of competition is that in which one person strives to dominate the rest and that person, if he succeeds, will then impose upon the rest his view of things.
However, we hope for another form of competition, a non-natural form of competition in which the person who succeeds doesn’t want to dominate but simply to be heard. That you compete in politics for example in order that your voice should be heard and then you make room for the voices of others, that it seems to me is what the democratic instinct is.
I don’t think it is a natural thing. It is something that is acquired by civilization. That the instinct not just to succeed, but having succeeded to allow a voice to those who didn’t. Now that is a very difficult state of mind to achieve and I think it is one that we have to learn in the classroom, but we are never going to learn it if we think that competition is inherently a bad thing. It’s not its inherently neutral, but it is something we need to use so that the voice of the other can be heard in our decision making. 

19th Forum 2000 Conference
September 13–16, 2015, Prague and other Central European cities

There is a growing sense that democracy has entered a period of discontent and is facing new and serious challenges. Has democracy exhausted itself? Are authoritarian regimes gaining an upper hand? Or, could it be that liberal democracy runs counter to human nature and its preservation requires constant effort? Can education help us meet the challenge of maintaining and expanding democracy? The discussion was held amongst a number of distinguished guests from around the world. The conference took place between September 13–16, 2015 in Prague and other Central European cities. A portion of these conversations were filmed and are available on youtube in the playlist above.

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