THE ISSUES OF CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION

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In this assignment I have been given the task of selecting a contemporary educational issue and discussing the contrasting viewpoints on that particular issue. In regards to the task I have chosen to discuss about 'citizenship education' which has been a highly debatable topic in the recent era as well as in the past decades.

So, what is citizenship? And what is the relationship between citizenship and education? Addressing the first question in light of Benn's (2000) research, it has been considered that citizenship is difficult to define and that it is country-dependant. However from a British perspective, she considers that citizenship is the "involvement in social networks, in the groups, organisations and voluntary associations that connect citizens with the life of their communities." Expanding on this Holden (1999) addresses the growing concern that the younger generation are leaving school without knowledge or interest of issues within their community and political issues as a whole. The main reason for this appears to be an insufficient moral and social education, where there has been little teaching of 'political literacy'.

In an educational context, as in answer to the second question, the subject of citizenship provides learning opportunities to gain knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to play an effective role in a society at local, national and international levels. Defining citizenship in education, Fogelman (1997) says "We define the subject (citizenship) in a broad way to concern the relationship between individuals and the world they live in. It relates not only to this country but to the European Community and the world as a whole. It concerns the institutions of democracy and the rights and responsibilities of individuals in a democratic society." Reehers and Cammarano (1997) beautifully synthesizing education and citizenship say 'first, we must remember that there is no division between education and citizenship. Instead they are part and parcel of the same thing: the pursuit of informed, critical, and active citizens. Second, the division between academic learning and practical experience is artificial. Classroom learning prepares our students to interact in the world and to understand it; conversely, what occurs in local, national or global society can inform and enhance traditional academic learning. Third, as educators we need to rethink the purpose, structure and content of our individual courses and our discipline, and to be more conscious- and conscientious- not only about the content of our teaching but also about our methods of course design and structure, and the lesson they impart about the role of leadership and citizenship. Finally, we must be willing to experiment with our own ideas about education.' The document of Curriculum Guidance 3: The Whole Curriculum (NCC 1990), in Edwards and Fogelman (1993), the aims of education for citizenship were described as being to establish the importance of positive, participative citizenship and the motivation to join in, and to Help pupils to acquire and understand essential information on which to base the development of their skills, values and attitudes towards citizenship.

The reason why citizenship has become a topical debate is because the Labour Government introduced compulsory citizenship education into secondary schools from August 2002 at key stage 3 and 4. The concept is now also generating a huge academic literature in politics, education, sociology and social policy. Regarding the relationship between citizenship and political education Conley (1991) states 'The relationship between citizenship and political education is ambivalent. From one point of view they are the same thing: for example Alan Howarth, speaking to the Politics Association in 1990 implied this by saying that 'through the foundation subjects, political education will become the experience of many rather than the privilege of the few.' On the other hand...
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