Citizenship in schools. This type of learning isn’t shown on report cards, nor do students march their way from one room to the next to greet their citizenship teacher. This is one of those expectations of schools that has no place in the curriculum. It is simply an expectation that teachers teach their students about what it means to be a member of Canadian society – a citizen.
There are three different types of citizenship according to Westheimer and Kahne’s article titled “What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Demoncracy”.
- The first type of citizen is a personally-responsible citizen. This citizen does things that are generally socially expected of them without much fuss such as voting and volunteering.
- The second type of citizen participates in protests and plays an active roll in their community, and is called a participatory citizen.
- Lastly, there is the justice-oriented citizen. This type of citizen questions all that is unjust, as well as works towards real social change.
Keeping these 3 types of citizens in mind think back to your education on citizenship. What did your teachers do to teach you citizenship? And what kind of citizen were you taught and expected to become?
For myself I was lucky. My teachers did, in fact, teach me about citizenship. I participated in class elections to learn about voting, studied real Canadian candidates and picked apart their words. My class would take an afternoon to pick up garbage in my community or shovel city sidewalks in the thick of winter. We raised money for worthy causes and were encouraged to take part in marches, parades, and protests. This covers the first two types of citizen.
I was taught how to be a personally-responsible citizen and a participatory citizen, but never a justice-oriented citizen. Sure, it was implied. Class discussions and the like brought about these questions about inequality and unjust, but it was never in the volume it needed in order to produce a batch of citizens with a justice-oriented mindset.
In this type of system, students are taught to question their surroundings; they are taught to uphold it.