Business Education Case Studies


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Why Discovering Democracy?

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Legal and law-related education

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What do the Discovering Democracy materials comprise?

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Economic literacy and civics and citizenship education

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Discovering Democracy and Business Education?

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Comment on units

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Further information


Discovering Democracy and Business Education
Civics and citizenship opportunities in business education

Civics and citizenship education is a priority in schools as we head into the next millennium and there has been much discussion of where it fits in the curriculum, what subject areas or disciplines should have the carriage of it and what it actually looks like. A healthy diversity of views on these issues ensures that a variety of approaches, courses and curriculum structures will deliver essential learning in the area on a p–12 basis. Mike Rowland argues that business educators not only have great opportunities to contribute to quality civics and citizenship education provision in schools but that without their input potential will not be achieved.

Late last year the Commonwealth-funded Discovering Democracy materials were forwarded to all schools in Australia. The materials were packaged in two parts – primary and secondary – and distributed on this basis. This means that unless a school offered primary and secondary levels it received a free copy of only one package. However, additional packages of either set are readily available from Curriculum Corporation for $24.95 and orders can be faxed on 0396391616.

Why Discovering Democracy?

The Commonwealth has a substantial program to support teaching and learning in civics and citizenship; the Discovering Democracy project is one very significant element in the overall program which includes professional development for teachers and activities in other education sectors. In all states and territories civics and citizenship education is high on the curriculum agenda and emerging curriculum frameworks, new and revised, are reflecting this priority. The Discovering Democracy materials offer teachers a comprehensive resource to support classroom and other initiatives designed to engage students in civics and citizenship education.

What do the Discovering Democracy materials comprise?

In November 1998 principals of all secondary schools in Australia received the Discovering Democracy Secondary Materials kit – a reasonably large green package that also had Curriculum Corporation name and logo on the outside.

The package comprises:

It is anticipated that materials in addition to the Parliament at Work CD-ROM will be distributed in 1999 and 2000.

Discovering Democracy and Business Education?

The short answer – YES! The Discovering Democracy materials aim to help prepare students to play their part as active, informed citizens. In the early days of discussion about the development of the materials there was a strong emphasis on the link between the teaching of history and civics and citizenship. Some saw history as the ‘home’ of civics and citizenship and, of course, there is an obvious and strong relationship. But certainly the opportunities for other areas of the curriculum to substantially contribute to the achievement of the objectives of any civics and citizenship program are well recognised and encouraged.

In fact, unless civics and citizenship education is reasonably widely embraced by different areas in schools then it will not be as effective as we would want it to be. The professional development manual in the kit provides advice to teachers on using the Discovering Democracy materials. It acknowledges that if young Australians are to be equipped to play their part as citizens they need ‘a knowledge of the history and operations of Australia’s political and legal systems and institutions and of the principles that underpin Australian democracy. It also requires the development of skills and an appreciation of the values and attitudes that enable effective participation in civic life’.

Legal and law-related education

Business educators are often involved in teaching about Australia’s political and legal systems and institutions. Typically legal and law related education is the province of the business education teacher, many of whom have benefited from substantial tertiary studies in the area and have lengthy experience in course development and implementation. The Discovering Democracy materials will offer them a rich harvest of resources to either initiate new content and approaches and/ or to complement existing program opportunities.

Economic literacy and civics and citizenship education

The opportunities for business educators to use the materials go way beyond the more obvious relationship with teaching about political and legal systems and institutions. A clear and stated purpose of the materials is to ‘enable young people to complete the compulsory years of schooling with the knowledge, understanding and skills for them to take their place as effective and responsible citizens in the community’. This is an important message for business educators who have long argued that basic economic literacy should be a right of every student. And given the subject specialisation that is a feature of the post compulsory years of schooling, the opportunities for students to acquire basic economic literacy need to be created in the compulsory years. The Discovering Democracy materials support such an opportunity in a number of units.

So what’s in the Discovering Democracy materials for business educators? More than you think probably and that’s why it is important for you to have a good look at the package to make your own assessment of its value to you and your colleagues.

But the following summary will give you a broad indication of potential opportunities for you to draw on the package.

Discovering Democracy Unit Overview

Lower Secondary Middle Secondary
Should the People Rule?
  • Types of governance: monarchy, aristocracy, tyranny, democracy
  • Features of Australia's system of representative democracy

Contexts: Ancient Athens and Sparta, contemporary Australia

Parties Control Parliament
  • Political parties in Australia: origins; purposes; objectives, ideologies; constituencies; operations
  • Impact of the party system on parliament, pre-Federation to contemporary Australia

Contexts: the 1949 and 1972 Australian federal elections (case studies)

A Democracy Destroyed

  • Features of a democracy
  • Threats to democracy
  • Safeguards to democracy

Contexts: Nazi Germany, contemporary Australia

Law
  • Origins of our law and its development
  • Types of law: common, statute, customary; criminal and civil
  • The Australian Constitution and the role of the High Court
  • Elements of a fair trial

Contexts: Ancient law, Saxon law, Aboriginal customary law (case study), club and national constitutions, court operation

A Democracy Destroyed
  • Use of the justice system for undemocratic purposes

Human Rights

  • The nature and definition of human rights and responsibilities
  • Historical development of the concept of human rights
  • Protection of human rights in Australia
  • Human rights of Australia's Indigenous people over time

Contexts: The Declaration of Independence (US4), the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (France), the Bill of Rights (USA), UN Declaration of Human Rights Australian Constitution, civil rights organisations, Indigenous peoples’ 'human rights in the 20th century

Democratic Struggles
  • Key elements of democracy
  • Objectives and strategies of struggles to establish these elements in Britain and Australia
  • The establishment of franchise for Australian women and Indigenous people

Contexts: Chartism in mid- 19th century Britain, the Eureka rebellion, the Australian Constitution, the 1938 Day of Mouming and the 1967 referendum

Making a Nation
  • Processes of federation: rebellion and peaceful change
  • Constitutions as a basis for national government: the balance of power between state and federal governments
  • The dissolution of federations
  • The republic debate in Australia

Contexts: the American War of Independence, federation of the colonies in Australia, the American and Australian Constitutions, the American Civil War the secession movement in Western Australia, the republic debate

What Sort of Nation?

  • The meaning and relevance of images of a nation
  • The demography of Australia: immigration policies and practices
  • Economic policies: work and the marketplace
  • Social policies: historical and contemporary debates about welfare

Contexts: images of Australia, Australia's population over time, changes in the nature of employment and working conditions, the impact of globalism on trade policies, systems of welfare and their limits

Men and Women in Political Life
  • The nature of political activity
  • Parliamentary lives
  • Activist political lives outside parliament

Contexts: lives of Chifley, Menzies, Goldstein, Cowan, Spence, Street, Gibbs, Nicholls

Getting Things Done
  • Processes of influencing the views and actions of others
  • The evolution of a community political debate party political policies and practices
  • The role of media
  • Resolution of disputes between state and federal governments

Context: The Franklin River Dam dispute (case study)

Comment on units and their relationship to the work of business educators

To quickly gain an idea of the potential the materials have to support the involvement of business educators in civics and citizenship education, it is useful to look at each unit through the suggested focus questions and indicators of student achievement. This provides a snapshot of opportunity.

Should the people rule?
  • The four focus questions to this unit are:

  • The indicators of student achievement are to:

  • Law
  • The five focus questions to this unit are:

  • The indicators of student achievement are to:

  • Democratic struggles
  • The four focus questions for this unit are:

  • The indicators of student achievement are:

  • Men and women in political life
  • The three focus questions for this unit are:

  • The indicators of student achievement are:

  • Parties control parliament
  • The three focus questions for this unit are:

  • The indicators of student achievement are to:

  • Human rights
  • The four focus questions for this unit are:

  • The indicators of student achievement are:

  • A democracy destroyed
  • The four focus questions for this unit are:

  • The indicators of student achievement are to:

  • Making a nation
  • The four focus questions in this unit are:

  • The indicators of student achievement are:

  • What sort of nation?
  • The five focus questions for this unit are:

  • The indicators of student achievement are:

  • Getting things done
  • The four focus questions for this unit are:

  • The indicators of student achievement are to:

  • In developing civics and citizenship programs business educators can make a greater contribution in some units than others; much depends on the emphasis in units. But even a quick examination of the summaries provided above should be enough to encourage business educators to follow up and have a good look at the whole package of materials that comprise Discovering Democracy.

    Civics and citizenship education is a priority in schools today and it will be resourced and have time on the school program. Any business education teacher who does not see the relationship between business education and civics and citizenship has missed more than the point.

    Further information

    Why not go to the website of your own Business Educators Australasia (BEA) affiliate subject association and contact them for more information on how they are responding to civics and citizenship. You can easily access them through the website of the peak body Australian Federation of Societies for Studies of Society and Environment (AFSSSE) on http://www.ash.org.au/teachers/afssse And remember, each state and territory has a Discovering Democracy professional development committee which is applying Commonwealth funding to a range of activities to enhance the teaching of civics and citizenship in schools. Again, full details about these committees and their work is available through the AFSSSE website so go and have a look to see what is available in your state or territory.

    Mike Rowland was formerly executive officer of BEA, is immediate past chair of AFSSSE and represents that organisation on the Victorian Discovering Democracy Professional Committee. He is Executive Director of the Victorian Commercial Teachers Association.