Citizenship Education: Good deeds for the holidays

My entire K-12 education could be described by WWJD: what would Jesus do? This type of mentality supported the morality and behaviour within the school, as well as the social and civic responsibilities. Therefore, I would say that my education fostered the development of a personally responsible citizen. We picked up litter from around the school neighbourhood… probably for Earth day, donated to the food bank for Thanksgiving, and wrapped presents for families in need around Christmas. It seems that our social responsibility simply revolved around doing good deeds for the holidays. Therefore, I had a fairly shallow approach to curriculum as citizenship. However, I do remember having a grade 6/7/8 teacher who helped facilitate, support, and encourage us to become more proactive. Instead of mindless acts of service, she took time to educate us on social issues, typically involving the environment, and than encouraged us to educate our school community by hosting some type of fundraiser for our chosen cause. For example, I remember having a movie night fundraiser to raise money to ‘save the rainforest’. Of course she was largely involved in organizing these types of fundraisers, as we were 11, 12, and 13 years old, but we were in charge of the canteen, selling tickets, and making posters. Students may have even gone to the principle to propose the idea. According to Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne in What Kind of Citizen? The politics of educating for democracy, these actions still fall under the 1st level of citizenship mentioned above. However, I argue that there is a glimpse of participator citizenship, as we played a more active role in understanding the issue and organizing the community engagements. In brief, I believe that this approach to curriculum as citizenship started to develop our social awareness and personal responsibility to influence and promote change, despite our naive and juvenile perspectives. However, rather than being a spring board for further growth, understanding, and involvement, our citizenship development ended there, which indicated that what we had done up to that point was good enough. We had done our part. Thus, justice-oriented citizenship was not considered, as we were already engaged citizens.

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Active Citizens: Why Should We Care?

In my own schooling I don’t remember a lot that was taught about citizenship, but my experiences with external sources with the school helped dramatically. What I am referring to is mainly the field trips that I partook in throughout my K-12 years and how citizenship was seen in these events. Although it wasn’t intentional, my first experience happened to be when I was preforming for an old folks home with my grade 7 jazz band. What was intended to only be a performance turned into a fun afternoon with all the seniors at the local retirement home. In my high school years the way I saw citizenship was through our mandatory volunteer hours. Although what was said to be mandatory wasn’t legitimate, I still happened to volunteer with the Special Olympics swimming organization.  I learned about another aspect of our society that I never grasped before and although it wasn’t through the school, I do owe them credit for pushing me towards their direction. Both experiences weren’t technically through school; however I wouldn’t have developed this knowledge without it.

The Personally Responsible Citizen is the category that my experiences would fall under due to them being a volunteer aspect. I think that most schools use this category because it’s an easy one to hit and it’s probably most beneficial for younger ages because it has them experience it firsthand. Teaching citizenship at a young age would be quite difficult and I think that having students learn it firsthand could be more beneficial. It also gives the student a voice in how they learn this concept which is also a better way to develop a concept and in my opinion is a better way to approach new concepts. This one concept is seen in my schooling and I bet it is seen in many, but where do the other ones come into play?

The other two aspects were never looked upon when in my schooling and I think both of them are overlooked in most school systems. Both The Justice Oriented Citizen aspect and The Participatory Citizen aspect look into the politics of citizenship and how justice works in the government, but I think it’s learned mainly in core subjects like social studies. I didn’t get much knowledge on this because it’s something that doesn’t interest me because I find it hard to learn about. My lack of engagement when in social studies and the subject of politics could have been improved if I learned it in a different way however. Maybe visiting parliament, or a Politician guest speaker could have sparked my interest but the schools lack of commitment disconnected me. Even in present day I find this subject hard to learn about and it will affect me dramatically when voting comes along. Being an active citizen is an important issue to develop in our students, and having them understand all three concepts will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

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Blog #9: The Importance of Citizenship

Oh citizenship…I can’t say I can recall too much of citizenship – based assignments or activities in elementary, aside from two particular events. The first, was putting on a carnival of sorts and each game/food station costed a dollar or two, and all the money went to a charity of sorts (it was a ton of fun I ran a milkshake shack!).

The second experience was simply receiving the citizenship award in grade 8, though I was never really sure that I did anything in particular to receive it! I suppose it could have been because when I participated in extra curricular and SRC, etc; it made me a kind of citizen – likely just a participatory citizen. We also did the classic bring a can or two for the food bank, but there was always something we’d get in return like candy, or a movie day. In high school, we did even less based on my memory – again unless we got something in return!

So we were never really doing it cause we wanted too, we did it because we got something out of it in return. I guess what I am trying to say is, we should be encouraging students to want to make change, rather than having to bribe them to do so. We are the ones who should be bringing up topics that encourage students to think about what is happening in our world and why. We must create critical thinkers that want to create change simple because it is right, rather than because they get candy out of it. So then the next question is, how do we do that? I think it is so important to really explain why we are doing fundraisers and the background behind them rather than majorly concerning of the fun part that comes with it.

Looks like we have some brainstorming to do!

Peace and love,

Miss Mac

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Week 9: Reading Response

In my schooling, we did not really have any citizenship education. There was a point in one of my classes where we had to learn the textbook definition of each type of citizen, but we were not tested or further taught on the subject. This is unfortunate as I did not even remember these types until I read the article again. I had no knowledge of them as I simply read the definitions in high school and then forgot about them. So, in regards to citizenship, there is nothing for me to be able to understand about it from that class. I believe it could have been included more into the curriculum instead of just being a simple reading that was probably thrown out the next day.

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Types of Citizens

Throughout my schooling I mainly remember citizenship education in the form of learning to vote, and how important it is for people to vote. We discussed the importance of voting from grade five, and especially talked about it in History 30. Although we talked about voting, in grade twelve neither myself or my peers could legally vote yet, and I think that we never really critically thought about voting simply because we could not do it yet. However, now that I can legally vote I do appreciate learning about the importance of voting. I also remember in elementary school that we talked about how our own decisions affect the world around us. We talking about recycling and taking care of the environment, but we were just taught that this is important to help the world not exactly why doing this makes someone a good citizen.

            The three types of citizens mentioned in the article are: the personally responsible citizen, participatory citizen, and the justice-oriented citizen. The personally responsible citizen mainly focuses on the person as an individual, while the justice-orientated citizen questions why the world is the way it is. All throughout my schooling we mainly focused on the personally responsible citizen. We talked about how we can make a difference in the community by recycling because it was important for the environment, but we never went into what it means to be a justice-orientated citizen. I believe that it is so important that students have the tools and knowledge in order to become justice-orientated students who recognize the need to make changes in the world. It is important for student to know what they are supposed to do, but also question why they are supposed to do it. By providing students with the tools to look at the root of the problem, this can hopefully help to break the cycle of whatever keeps on happening.

            However, within a school resources are often limited, so it can be extremely difficult to provide students with opportunities to be a justice-orientated citizen. Students must also be willing to work towards this type of citizenship because not all students in the classroom will feel that it is important. Working towards justice-orientated citizens should be the goal, but it may be difficult with the resources available within a school.

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Socio-Political Constructions of Schooling

3 – Something all teachers must consider, is the fact that all schools are different even in the same community, not all students have the same resources available at home as they do at school, and not all students are treated the same. Take for example, a school in an upper-class neighbourhood. One can assume all students are upper-class, most students parents have time and money to contribute to their children’s school, and most are probably the dominant race in their society. This school will likely have most support from the community, and students will most likely be pushed to have a college degree if their parents do. This school is obviously not equal to the school with the middle to lower class students, not as much funding, and parents are usually not as invested in their learning.  I believe that these schools would definitely not be equal, but also the students in the school are most likely not on the same playing field with each other. Boys seem to get into big trouble more than girls, and boys of the minority are even more likely to get into trouble. Is this a coincidence? I think not.

2- I have realized recently that the people who develop and create the curriculum is mainly the government, that takes most influence and ideas from parents as opposed to teachers. I do not believe parents have more knowledge on what students should know than teachers, but that is who ultimately gets to decide. I connected this understanding to the pushback of progressivism and reconstructionism in schools because some parents want students to learn the ways they probably did which is traditional view points and set outcomes they must hit. Teachers are not attempting to change our education system completely, but maybe begin including new ideas that students should be taught about in new ways. I also connected my learnings from ECS 210 and the ideas in which how the government implements new curriculums. Why are students and teachers the last consulted?

1- Some questions I have may be, how can we recognize and make sure we are not tracking our students? Is there a way to recognize and defeat tracking within our classroom?

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Curriculum as Citizenship

  • 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 regards to citizenship.
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My Journey Around Citizenship

Elementary School, I Vaguely Remember

I don’t really remember my elementary school teaching (K to 6), but what I can remember the citizenship was more focus on the personally responsible citizen and the participatory citizen. We learn a lot about volunteering and involve in the community. Recycling is really important and everyone should do that. Helping others, respecting the rules and valuable behaviour were really important. We also learn a lot how the municipal government work and a bit on how provincial government.

High school, the World Is Not Fair

In high school (7-11), I realized with all teaching I received that world is not fair. Corporate has huge advantage in our system and our actions is only a drop in the ocean. After high school, my position was only laws and the government have the power to rebalance our system. Individual actions like the recycling is somewhat important, but I thought people were overvaluing the importance of it compared to corporate actions.

2012, Maple Spring

I lived the Maple Spring as a Cégep student and it was provincial shattering events. My opinion on the strike was that the cause was good, but the strike is not the right way to expose the problem. It will only lead to a backlash for us. My Cégep went on strike debates were all over my school and the news. We vote each week if we should continue the strike. One day, we have a vote. I vote no for the continuation and we came back to class. This vote was important, because we have to come back to class by only one single vote. A single vote out of thousands changes all fates of students, teachers and by extension the province. This event change my view on the participatory citizen. This day I learn that every vote/political actions matter. The Maple Spring end and tuition fee froze again. Strike matters and work. No backlash happens. I was wrong.

Today

I still think our actions are a drop in the ocean, but we never know if we will be the drop the make the vase overflow. Corporate still hold the power, but we can all change it. By living your life and making decisions with your conviction, I believe we can change thing even a little.

 

Sorry this blog post was a bit more focus on the evolution of my belief than the way we can exploit it in the classroom.

 

Bibliography

 

Westheimer. J. Kahne. J. (2004) What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy. American Educational Research Journal.41(2), 237–269

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Citizens of Our Schools

In my own K-12 schooling I don’t have many examples of the way citizenship education was taught, because I don’t feel like my own schooling incorporated many of those life-long learning about democracy or becoming a good citizen that participates with great ideas that assist in our community and our country. If anything we learned lots about the way our decisions affect us and the people around us, especially as youngsters we studied the way reducing, reusing, and recycling affected the world but based it off how that would change our lives. As well we recognized things such as who was misfortunate in our community and how we could assist them in our best way. Throughout my schooling, I very rarely learned about laws, community legislative, and things such as voting or ways of showing your ideas. This is a part of citizenship that was not taught to us in any classes but social studies, and many times was not actually taught just mentioned briefly. One of the best experiences of citizenship in my school and community was after our rink burnt down we fundraised for a few years, as a school and class we took time to assist in lots of fundraisers, took initiative to build an outdoor rink for the winters without an actual building, and found ways to allow the kids of our community to appreciate the rink they now have.

Although after reading I think that if any citizenship education was incorporated it was The Personally Responsible Citizen. I think that it would fall into this section because we were often taught what we could do as a person to better our own lives and enhance our world on our own. Even though we were taught this ideology we often weren’t given opportunities to make the change or put our ideas into action. As well it was often not making connections between what we were learning to how we could use it in our world or the effects of making decisions within our communities does for all. In some of the activities or learning environments, I got glimpses of The Participatory Citizen. The focus of citizenship in my school focused on us as individuals and the basic ideas that allowed us to be a people who could eventually make our own decisions as well as create those change movements. Being equipped with those ideas, but never seeing the extra usages of being a citizen in our world definitely holds back our students.

This approach to curriculum and learning the basic ideas of citizenship does not allow our students to understand the controversial ideas and politics that come with being a part of our communities and making decisions for our country. The lack of learning about our roles of citizenship is detrimental to the future changes that need to occur as well as changes the way that we see our voices or opinion. Teaching our students citizenship and allowing them to have a voice or opinion on the world in a place where they are safe and respected is one the best places to teach this and something that we then know they are equipped with for their future. Not creating those connections and teaching them the way that they can use that knowledge holds back our students and does not allow them to participate fully in society without having to greatly learn on their own.

If we don’t teach it at school, maybe we are saying that participating in politics, in change, and in our community decisions is not important to our students and to their futures. Considering the role of education and as educators, we are doing a disservice to our students if we lack in this teaching of citizenship for their future.

 

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Diversity Within Mathematics

Ever since elementary school, I have never deemed myself as a “math” person. It took, and still does take, much studying and reviewing for me to retain different math concepts. My strengths have always been in the humanities and arts, as that is where I am able to reflect and develop my strengths. In saying this, I enjoyed Gail’s lecture as she instilled the concept that we are all “math people” and how math is everywhere and takes many forms. My question is why aren’t schools implementing this diversity of concepts into math classes?

I sometimes believe that math is too linear and consists of either right or wrong answers. Although this structure is needed in some math forms, I believe that it is time we began expanding the math curriculum to include various cultures ideologies. Neither my elementary of high school incorporated “non-traditional” math concepts, and, as Leroy Little Bear mentions, it created an oppressive environment for some students. One memory that sticks in my mind is in Grade seven, when my teacher decided to start teaching us Grade eight math so we, “were prepared…” As someone who already struggled with the Grade seven concepts, I remember feeling embarrassed when I continued working on the Grade seven math and my friends moved on. As teachers, we need to think of the needs of all students before we make a decision such as this.

It is fabulous how Indigenous mathematics concepts are beginning to be taught in Inuit communities as Inuktitut is the first language that Inuit children learn. In English, we are not forced to change our mathematics language halfway through; therefore, why should Inuit children? Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric ideas as it focusses on “… ‘natural’ ways of learning…”, taught by Elders and knowledge keepers.  Inuit ways of measuring consists of using certain body parts to discover length, instead of using the common metric system. In lecture, I also learned how there are different ways to classify the number three, which I find intriguing.

As teachers, we need to provide our students with diversity within learning. I love how Inuit mathematics provide a diverse way of looking at math and the world.

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