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By ismahanemess Jan 30, 2013 730 Words
The key aim in having introduced Citizenship Education was to prepare young people for their lives outside the school environment. This was to be achieved by giving them the knowledge, skills and understanding to be an active member of society. Citizenship lessons targeted key aspects of society, which were in most cases controversial, these subjects included current laws, duties and freedom, individual rights and responsibilities to the public as well as justice and democracy. Citizenship education also was implemented to make students aware of the cultural differences which surround them and encourage tolerance and respect for diverse ethnic identities. The ideas which are taught in these lessons can be broken down into subtopics, which are all as important as each other. One of these subtopics is “Democracy and justice”: this is where students are sensitised to political and justice systems in the UK as well as government policies in different parts of the world. Pupils are taught freedom of individuals as part of democracy, law as part of justice and accountability. They also learn about the necessity to balance competing and conflicting requirements and understanding that in a democracy not everyone has what they wish. All these aspects are explained for the student to then be able to participate actively in a wide range of decision-making and voting in the future. Linking teaching about democracy, elections and voting with the student council provides a way for students to apply their learning to real decision-making situations. A different topic which is tackled is Rights and responsibilities: In this portion the citizenship education, the students are taught that there is not just one right way and that there are different “obligations and responsibilities – political, legal, human, social, civic and moral”. It is important to undertake this particular topic as it encases some of the most controversial aspects, for example of when freedom of speech becomes extremisms and intolerance of others. Rights and responsibilities are taught for the same reasons as Democracy and justice, which is to nurture and promote democratic values. But most importantly, pupils need to understand that many difficult decisions are needed to be made in an attempt to balance the rights are individuals in the public. An additional theme highlighted is “Identities and Diversity: living together in the UK”. Students learn of the numerous diverse communities that are part of society. They are made aware of how immigration has moulded and changed the region they live in and how society itself has affected these different communities. This topic features the shared aspects that unify different communities and how environmental factors such as poverty affect individuals’ chances in life. It is also under this subject matter that every student, regardless of their status, expands their understanding of what being “a citizen in the UK” entails in this day and age. Pupils are also made to take into consideration the relationship the UK has with the outside world as well as the connections between the different communities within the UK itself.

Citizenship education also teaches young people to take “taking informed and responsible actions”. This is to instil and develop their skills in taking responsible actions. Methods used include giving a presentation to others on issues which concern one, organising a meeting or an event where people can debate issues and raise awareness on chosen topics. Other ways which are used to improve their skills in leadership and decision-making are asking the pupils to contribute to local community policies and setting up a network. All these exercises are utilised to teach young people a range of tactics in tackling problems and difficulties which they could one day face. Most of the assigments given are also done as a group and this also ensures that the students are able to work with others and as well as individually. Critical thinking and enquiry is another topic which is brought to attention. Instructors use real case studies to bring to light issues and problems to help students develop their critical thinking and enquiry skills. Students will be asked to question the validity of evidence, and develop judgements based on said evidence, as well as reflect on ideas of others as well as their own.

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