The Department of Political Education / Political Science at NMS

Fostering politically responsible behavior in the present is the focus of the Civic Education/Political Science Department at Nelson Mandela School. It is our concern to educate our students, who are diverse in many dimensions, to become critical, informed and committed individuals who are able to understand the complex political contexts of our time and actively participate in democratic processes in their own interests.


By strengthening analytical and orientation skills, we try to enable students to gain an overview of politically relevant developments and controversies by dealing with different media (such as complex newspaper articles, statistics, videos and cartoons). The problem- oriented topics tie in with the realities of young people's lives and are relevant to them today and their future. Building on this, we aim to develop the students' independent judgment competence, which is why they regularly practice structured argumentation and discussion and are thus able to form increasingly differentiated, independent judgments. It is particularly satisfying when the competence to act experienced at school, such as in simulated talk shows, simulation games, debates with politicians, junior elections, etc., leads to the students' own political activity, working for our democracy and a more peaceful, just community.


In order to convey certain contents and competencies in a more impressive way and to make it possible to experience the everyday world more strongly, the subject of political education/political science at the Nelson Mandela School emphasizes excursions and cooperation with extracurricular institutions. (See below for examples)


At the Nelson Mandela School, the subject of political education is taught continuously from the 7th to the 10th grade for one hour. In the 7th (and partly 8th) grade it is taught as part of the social studies program, which means that History, Political Education, Geography and Ethics are taught by one teacher, thus strengthening the interdisciplinary aspects. In grades 9 & 10, in addition to regular classes, students have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in elective classes/profile courses in geography-politics or history-politics with topics of their own choice. 


In upper secondary, political science is offered as a basic and advanced course in the Abitur branch and also in the IB program.


The subject areas in lower secondary:


In the 7th grade, students focus on poverty and wealth and the manifestations of social inequality in German society, examine the characteristics and causes of poverty, and discuss opportunities for social participation against the backdrop of different living conditions.  In the second half of the year, the focus is on changes in cultural and political life in the globalized world of the 21st century. Based on the everyday experiences of young people, the dangers and opportunities of the digital society and the tense relationship between freedom and security are discussed controversially. We also focus on selected global environmental and resource problems and deal with personal options for action in terms of responsible, sustainable, socially just global development.


In the 8th grade, the topic of migration focuses on the examination of current causes of migration and the social effects of migration movements. In the context of universal human rights and the right of asylum, students discuss the goals and strategies of German integration and immigration policy as well as opportunities and problems in a society increasingly characterized by diversity. In the second half of the year, the focus is on life in a constitutional state. The students deal with selected basic rights in the German constitution and the importance of a democratic legal system. In the sense of life-world orientation, legal questions of youth protection and the legal and criminal maturity of young people are also dealt with. 


Right to vote from the age of 16? Banning right-wing populist/extreme parties? Cancel culture -freedom of expression? We deal with such controversial questions in the topic of democracy in the 9th grade, which focuses on the political system of the FRG, the importance of the separation of powers, and the dangers to the free democratic basic order. In the second half of the year we focus on international conflicts and discuss possible solutions in the context of an exemplary, multi-perspective analysis of a current conflict (e.g. Syria, Ukraine, Middle East) and get to know important actors of international cooperation such as the UN, NATO, etc.


In the 10th grade, the focus is on the European Union, which is examined from different angles in the social science subjects geography, history and politics. In politics, we deal with the politics of the EU and the European integration process, reflect on the significance of the EU in the everyday lives of young people and discuss possible future scenarios for the EU against the backdrop of economic crises, increasing EU skepticism and right-wing populism. In the second half of the year, we look at the political and economic foundations of the social market economy in Germany. The students learn about different economic systems (planned economy, market economy) and discuss the design of the German economic system in the context of the tension between economic and social policy.


Upper Secondary Abitur

The main topics of the subject Political Science focus on politics in theory and practice in the Federal Republic of Germany, in Europe and on international developments in the 21st century. Thus, some topics of the Sek I are continued and extended and deepened by many aspects. 


At this point, we would like to show excerpts from our work and explain how we intend to achieve the goals outlined above. In doing so, it is our concern to enrich theoretical concepts of political science with current controversies in order to take into account the liveliness of the subject.


Around national and European elections, we have prepared these in class, taking into account the orientation and analysis competence. In order to emphasize the importance of elections for democracy and to connect with the students' lives, we invited candidates from our constituency to a student-moderated debate. Following this classroom preparation and panel discussion, we held a mock election with our own election notifications, ballots, voting booths, and ballot boxes - all modeled on the original. Committed, adult students from the upper-level courses then took part in the real election as election workers under the guidance of their teachers. 


Due to the international character of our school, we are used to hearing divergent positions and views on political developments in our school community. Our goal is to support fair and argumentative debate. A visit to the Turkish Embassy and a meeting with the Turkish Ambassador provided such an opportunity.


Here are some examples of our excursions and cooperations with extracurricular institutions:


Visits to the memorial sites Sachsenhausen and Hohenschönhausen

Visits e.g. to the Bundestag, the House of Representatives, the Bundesrat, the House of Europe 

Simulation games on European politics in the 10th grade 

Workshops on "civil courage" (external partner “Gesicht Zeigen”) and on global injustice (Epiz Center)

Participation of the school in mock elections (Bundestag election 2021), planned European election 2024

Participation of the school in the simulation game BERMUN (Berlin Model United Nations) 

Participation in the school's internal competition "Jugend debattiert"

Students in a hands-on simulation on global social injustice

Whiteboard picture on extremism 

Mock election for the 2021 German federal election

Students as election workers in the election of the Berlin House of Representatives 2021

Students counting the ballots in the election of the Berlin House of Representatives 2021

Excursion to the Turkish Embassy, meeting ambassador Ahmet Başar Şen