Curriculum as Citizenship

Reading Response Eight

In this week’s article, What Kind of Citizen, written by Joel Westheimer he states, “most educators … agree that teaching how to be a good citizen is important. But when we get specific about what democracy requires and about what kind of school curricula will best promote it, much of that consensus falls away”. Westheimer then talks about where some disagreement takes place. There are diverse opinions about how we include democracy in the classroom, what about democracy is important, and what being a good citizen entails (p. 49). As teachers, we must do our best to leave our opinions behind and be unbiased to the best of our ability. Even though we know that teaching is never neutral, we should try to let our students uncover knowledge on their own in a way that allows them to form their own thoughts and opinions.

As the article mentioned, there are three ways in which citizenship may emerge. This goes from children to adults. These three kinds of citizens being the personally responsible citizen, the participatory citizen, and the justice oriented citizen. Although students may not know it, they could be one or more “kinds of citizens” already. For example, look underneath the ‘Sample Action’ heading in the picture below taken from this article.

In my own education experience I remember doing lots of activities that promoted citizenship. After reflecting, I believe that my most valuable citizenship experiences came from being on Student Representative Council for eight years (grade 5 to 12). One thing I found myself struggling with in these years was how to make the distinction between what we were really doing for other people and what were we doing for ourselves. From this I take away that it is crucially important that when students and staff are putting on an event for a cause that we make it known what the cause we are raising money is for and why it is an issue, not just we are doing a wake-a-thon (or other events) because it is fun.

Going back to an teacher’s perspective, there might be conflicting opinions amongst educators and the curriculum regarding how curriculum and citizenship meshes together. I think that we can all agree that citizenship is important. As well, there are lots of ways teachers can integrate citizenship into the classroom. For example, look at the tweets below as a reference to what other teachers are doing (and what future educators could do) with curriculum as citizenship in the classroom.

In conclusion, citizenship can easily be brought into the classroom in a variety of ways. As an extension of our learning, please answer the poll below as to what you think Curriculum as Citizenship is all about.

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