Teach First citizenship teacher on ‘Why schools need citizenship’

Thursday 14 April 2011

Writing on the Guardian’s MortarBoard Blog, Alicia Brown tells how her students at Villiers School in West London have been inspired to campaign for citizenship education. They even joined Democratic Life!

2 Responses to “Teach First citizenship teacher on ‘Why schools need citizenship’”

  1. Nicola says:

    What an inspiring article. Proof that citizenship education not only works, but also makes a huge impact on all young people – not just those already interested or engaged in active citizenship.

  2. David says:

    Democracy Must be Experienced to be Learned

    There is much talk these days about the importance of teaching democratic values in our public schools. It appears that newspaper columnists, teachers’ unions, public organizations and other civic minded people have suddenly come to realize that our youth is growing up ignorant of, and uncommitted to, the great principles upon which our nation is based.

    Although I fully agree that the problem exists, I am afraid that the proposed cure – more classes on democracy – is no better than the disease. Why is it that people persist in thinking that the solution to real-life problems is talking about them? Does anyone really believe that subjecting children to yet another course will achieve really meaningful goals? We can’t even get our kids to read or write or do arithmetic properly, despite endless hours of classroom effort. Are we going to make them into the defenders of freedom by adjusting the curriculum once more?

    The simple fact is that children are not committed to democratic principles, or political freedom, or the bill of rights, because they themselves do not experience any of these lofty matters in their everyday lives, and in particular in their schools. Children do not have rights in school, they do not participate in meaningful decision-making at school (even where the decisions directly affect their own lives), nor do they have the freedom of self determination in school. In fact, the schools are models of autocracy – sometimes benevolent, sometimes cruel, but always in direct conflict with the principles on which our country is based.

    The way to ensure that people of any age will be deeply committed to the American Way is to make them full participants in it. Make our schools democratic, give our children freedom of choice and the basic rights of citizenship in their schools, and they will have no problem understanding what this country is about.

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