ECS 210: Week 5 Blog Post
In the Westheimer and Kahne’s article that we were to read this week, they described three different kinds of citizens:
Personally, Responsible Citizen – This type of citizen acts responsibly in their community. This would include working, paying taxes, obeying laws, volunteering etc.
Participatory Citizen – This people are active members of the community and helps give back to the community. An example of this would be organizing a food drive or blood drive.
Justice-Oriented Citizen – These people more look into political and social aspects and seek out justice. An example of this is trying to find out why the poverty level is high.
Recalling from my K-12 education experience, we never really talked about the different types of citizens. To be honest, I wasn’t really aware they had separate names up until this point. However, we did mention these topics in our school quite heavily. Being from a small town in Saskatchewan, community is everything. It’s a give and take relationship. In school we talked about the first two types of citizens heavily. We always were taught to obey laws and to be “good” citizens. The main one we always touched on was the participatory citizen. We have had organized so many fundraisers in our small town for a variety of different causes. While we talked about the first two quite heavily, we have never talked about the Justice-oriented citizen. That sort of stuff was never taught to us because no one was ever that interested in it in our town. We were basically always taught that as long as you gave back to the community and you obeyed all the rules, you were considered a “good person” and that thought alone got most of us young kids willing to give our time to make our community a better place. Because of our small place in the province and in the world, no one here ever really touched on or looked into political and social aspects in our society. In our town, we don’t see many of those issues that were stated in the article, so we just ignored it. I now understand that this isn’t right and that all schools should be touching on each and every type of citizen to broaden our horizons!
I believe that the approach that a specific place takes towards citizenship instruction is solely based on experiences and beliefs. Like I said previously, we were taught to give back because we need to look out for each other. While we wanted to make our small town great, it also made us all feel a bit safer knowing that we were doing what we were doing and that we were not focusing on the bigger world around us. While this isn’t a bad thing, we still need to acknowledge that other things are happening around us that require our attention besides our small little place we call home. At the end of the day, I think without looking at all aspects of citizen education as whole, we are looking out for our personal interests rather than the interests as everyone as a whole. While this isn’t a bad thing, it is not a great thing either. We need to be able to look at the whole picture rather than just a small part of it.