Citizenship in Schools?

Hello everyone!

This week in ECS 210, we were asked to do a quick reading and watch a quick video about citizenship and citizenship in schools.

In the  article by Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne, it discusses three different types of citizens. The three types of citizens are:

  1. The Personally Responsible Citizen – “one who acts responsibly in his/her community” (p.3)
  2. The Participatory Citizen – “those who actively participate in the civic affairs and the social life of the community at local, state and national levels.” (p.4)
  3. The Justice Oriented Citizen – “analyze and understand the interplay of social, economic, and political forces.” (p. 4)

Many people think that schools only teach students about the core curriculum subjects. Schools teach more than the core curriculum. Schools teach students about social norms, about following rules, and about how to be citizens in society. Things such as Food Bank drives, volunteer service and many other community involvement activities all teach students how to be good citizens in society.

When I was in school, I was taught a lot about citizenship, even when I did not know that I was. Most of the time I was taught how to be a Personally Responsible citizen.  I was taught how to pay my taxes in Personal Finance class. Throughout high school, I was taught how to help those in need where I was as big participant in the Food Bank drive. I really pushed myself to give as much food as I possibly could to the Food Bank because I knew I had many blessings that others did not.

When I was in high school, we were required to do volunteer service for a class called Christian Ethics. For four years, I did volunteer service at the Regina Food Bank. Most of the time I helped out sorting the food that was donated on the Annual Food Drive. The Food Bank drive was always important in my high school and I felt that I needed to participate and volunteer as much as I could.

My high school also encouraged students to become Participatory Citizens. The school had an SRC which students in grades 10-12 organized school events such as assemblies, dances, and many other school activities.

My high school encouraged and taught students how to be both Personally-Responsible and Participatory citizens. This approach encouraged all of the students to have desirable qualities, such as being compassionate, honest, and caring. This approach to allow students to learn how to become not only good citizens, but also good leaders and community members.

Unfortunately, as we discussed in the lecture today, this approach does not always allow students, or people that are living in poverty, or who need assistance to be ‘good’ citizens. A personally-responsible citizen is someone who fulfills their civic responsibilities (which can include paying taxes, voting, and helping those in need). If students are those that are in need, it is difficult for them to helps others that are in need. Students that are in need themselves are also able to help others in need, but it might be in different ways from donating things to the Food Bank or giving away clothing to the Salvation Army. Students that are also in need can be compassionate and help others in need in ways of being a good friend or neighbour. Students must be told that they can be a good citizen by listening to their friends when they are in need or by assisting others when they are struggling with homework or assignments.

This approach to teaching students how to be citizens that I experienced in high school did not encourage Justice-Oriented citizenship. Justice-Oriented citizens are needed in society, because they are the ones that question the social justice issues in society. It is important to teach students that it is okay to question the issues in society and want to make changes. As teachers, it is important to teach students and encourage students to be all the types of citizens. Every one of the three types of citizens are required in society. Society needs people to fulfill their civic responsibilities, play active roles in the community, and those to question the cause of social problems. It is important that schools encourage students to be the type of citizen that they fit in.

Citizenship is something that schools will teach students along with the core curriculum that teachers are required to teach. Schools teach students much more than just the core subjects. It is a teacher’s responsibility to encourage students to learn about and feel comfortable being any type of citizen. Citizenship is a crucial aspect of society and it is something that students will learn about in school, explicitly or implicitly.

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff

One thought on “Citizenship in Schools?

  1. Hi Ashley,

    I enjoyed reading your post! I thought it was really interesting when you said, ” students learn how to become not only good citizens, but also good leaders and community members”. I think that students often learn this without even realizing it which is really interesting. Looking back at my schooling I realize that I also learned how to be a good leader but I didn’t realize that’s what I was being taught at the time.

    Thanks for sharing,


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