Citizenship Education

In the article What Kind of Citizen? The politics of Educating for Democracy, three types of citizens are described, the personally responsible citizen, Participatory citizen, and the Justice-Oriented citizen. This article explained the three types of citizens as three levels of being good citizens. The responsible citizen being the one who “acts responsibly” (votes, volunteers, donates to charity etc.), the participatory citizen being the one who takes it a step further (runs a campaign, organizes charity events etc.) and the Justice-oriented citizen being the highest level of being a good citizen and tries to fix the problem at the root instead of just the results of what is actually going on.

In my experience in school is that being a responsible citizen was encouraged, there wasn’t much push for anything more than that. Most people wanted you to be a responsible citizen and vote, volunteer, donate etc. Schools should be teaching what is actually at the root of the problem so we can fix it. It would also teach a lot about society and how the world works if teachers and educators taught about the root of the problem and what we can do to fix the problem. This approach to citizenship focusing on being a responsible citizen limits how much you can teach about the social justice issues behind it. For example, if the curriculum only requires you to teach to be a responsible citizen, it is very likely that the curriculum will not allow teachers to teach the students to be justice-oriented, there won’t be much room to learn about the justice issues in society.

The approach the citizenship in a given place will show what is valued by curriculum makers. Since the government plays a large role in the curriculum, it makes sense that the government would want to shape the citizens that they want through the curriculum. The type of citizen that they are trying to make says a lot about the integrity of the government in that place. For example, if the government are trying to make only responsible citizens, it is an important first step, but it sends the message that the government doesn’t want its citizens to question the decisions that are being made in the local government. If the government wants Justice-oriented citizens, they are more likely to be open to the citizens challenging the governments ideas.

1 Comment

  1. Drew Williams

    Hi Sarah,
    You did a good job of answering all the prompts. I experienced the personally responsible citizen in my school experiences as well. In high school, I learned a lot about being the participatory citizen. I am not sure if you went to school in Saskatchewan, but it is interesting that we have experienced different citizenship education. Do you think this is a result of our government wanting citizens only to be personally responsible citizens or do you think that our educators are failing to deepen our understanding of citizenship education? I think its probably a mixture of both. It would be interesting to experience a justice-oriented citizen education.

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