What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling? What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus? Explore what this approach to the curriculum made (im)possible in regard to citizenship.
Looking back to when I was in primary and secondary education, I believe that for the most part, I received “the personally responsible citizen” citizenship education. I recall a lot of “how to do your part for your community,” and “how to be a good person” instruction. There was a lot of focus on right vs. wrong, but nothing really about the why, or the cause of the issues that were presented (such as homelessness, poverty, racism, etc.), or the changes we could make to address these issues.
I remember a lot of bottle drives, food drives, clothing drives, etc. when I was in school. We talked about the things we could do to be a good person or a good citizen such as recycle, have manners, volunteer, or help the less fortunate; but I can’t remember talking about the why, other than that’s just what you do. These ideas were also echoed in my home. My parents, and my church community had the beliefs that you were just supposed to help people and be a good person.
By having this education and these beliefs instilled in me, I believe it limited me from learning more about systemic issues, why they were happening, the injustices that came along with them, and the changes I could make or help others to make in regard to these problems. I was never really taught to challenge the status quo.
This is something that I want to have a different approach with when I am a teacher. I of course want to teach my students how to be a “good” human being, but I also want to challenge them to ask the hard questions, to learn the uncomfortable truths, and then I want them to be able to ask themselves what they can do about it, and believe that they can make a difference.