Citizenship education was never a subject of focus throughout my time in school. There may have been some conversation on what citizenship means, or how people are able to become new citizens, however there were no conversations surrounding the idea on what it means to be a good citizen. After reading Westheimer’s paper and going through the three categories, my education experience connects the most with the personally responsible citizen. Generally, we were taught “good” from “bad”. Learning that following the rules/laws, helping others when in need, being kind, being responsible, etc., were all “good” behaviours. As I got older and made my way through high school, I became introduced to a couple of teachers who set participatory citizen influences.
Being taught personally responsible citizen values creates mindsets to worry about oneself (to an extent). From my perspective, teaching students the values of the personally responsible citizen influences a “someone else’s problem” mindset, or a dismissive mentality. Take the example used in the article of donating food to a food-drive. The underlying intention of donating food is to be a good person and help others in need; however, after donating a couple cans of food, that person most likely carries on with their own life and forgets all about the cause. This can be related to what Mike Cappello stated in the podcast: “if we say the words right, we get to be seen as good people” – when talking about acknowledging treaties. We are entering a time in history where it is getting harder to ignore or dismiss social injustices. In the YouTube video provided for this week, Joel Westheimer argues to bring politics into schools, and suggests that children need to learn “that we all don’t agree on things”, and I agree with his argument. In order for students to become justice-oriented citizens, relevant social and political issues need to be addressed within the classroom.