Discussion Forum


20 March to 24 March 2000

QUESTION 3

HOW DO I ENSURE MY CIVICS AND CITIZENSHIP CLASSES MEET THE NEEDS OF STUDENTS?

Stimulus Material to start discussion:

Much of the material which is presented to students in courses called "Civics and Citizenship" is actually the history and development of political institutions. This is epitomised by the tenor of the awareness campaign which highlights the recognition of Edmund Barton as Australia’s first Prime Minister.

"Civics and Citizenship" should be conceived as, and taught as, more than naming politicians and understanding "How to vote" instructions.

In the classroom "Civics and Citizenship" should be participatory. Students need to be involved in activities which require more than passive reception or manipulation of the information that is deemed essential for active citizenship.

Students need to experience, argue, discuss, defend, oppose, debate and roleplay the dialectic which is implicit in the notion of citizenship. Students should explore and experience the tension, which exists in the relationship between the individual and society. Active citizenship requires the accommodation of the rights of the individual and the responsibilities of the citizen. Are active citizenship and autonomous individualism possible in a civil society?

History and historical materials are important elements in this experience. Real time examples will provide a proper context to allow students to recognise change and continuity, parallel concerns and developments. Students will develop empathy for those who have encountered the same issues in the past.

Students may develop an historical perspective that will lead to deeper understanding and inform their future role in society as active citizens and autonomous individuals.

Denis Mootz, Balmain High School
HTAA


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