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Should children be taught how to engage in a democratic society?

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Assignment 6

Should children be taught how to engage in a democratic society? (1500 words)


In this essay I am going to discuss the issues relating to children and if they should be taught how to engage in a democratic society. I will look at identifying the problems and make an argument for and against I will then take the main points from my research and report on the main issues. Finally I will review my finding and make a conclusion.

In order to start this essay I needed to know the real definition of the word democratic. In order to define this correctly I have taken its true meaning from The Oxford English Popular Thesaurus, which says, classless, chosen, elected, popular, and representative.

I attended a lecture at UEL where Sue Ritchie presented an introduction to Citizenship. From this lecture Sue Ritchie gave information about the Crick report (1998) and discussed social diversity, democracy, and she made reference to Thompson (1996) Peoples skills, Macmillan: p.70. The two quotes highlighted from Thompson were “When we interact with other people, we do not start from a natural standpoint. We bring with us a whole range of values, beliefs and assumptions.” and “So how can we all live together in the same world if we differ so much?”
Is it possible to achieve effective teaching of citizenship?
This is a huge statement, which challenges the teaching of Citizenship


I wanted more information about the Crick report 1998 so I took information from a web site, which helped me with my essay. The following points have been taken as examples.

The government has made it policy to teach children how to engage in a democratic society by introducing a subject call citizenship. An advisory group was formed to produce a structure. A summary of the final report was presented to the secretary of state on 22nd September 1998. (The Crick report)

The main recommendations from the Crick report 1998.

·     “The teaching of citizenship and democracy is so important both for school life and the life of the nation that there should be a state requirement on schools to ensure that it is part of the entitlement of all pupils.”
·     The statutory teaching citizenship should be the knowledge, skills and values relevant to the nature of and practices s and development of a participative democracy, the duties, responsibilities, rights and development of pupils into citizens; and the value to individuals, schools and society of involvement in the local and wider community both national and local and the awareness of world affairs and global issues, and the economic realities of adult life.
·     These learning outcomes should be based on what can take no more than five percent of curriculum time.
·     Citizenship should be taught in combination with other subjects such as history and geography.
·     The learning outcomes should be taught over a period of years. This is because of the newness of the subject and to avoid overloading the teachers.
·     The teaching of Citizenship should be introduces with the revised new curriculum in the year 2000.

(Http//www.dur.ac.uk/r.d.smith/Crick.html)

In reading the above statements it made me question why the government has invested so much in the teaching of Citizenship and will the investment produce a better-informed society and will it give the government more votes? As the subject of citizenship is so large, then why is the learning outcome only 5% of the curriculum, and will the subject in time be given more that 5% to learning time when new teachers have been trained? How important is this subject to the future of our country?

My research shows that the Government made funding available to schools for the induction for citizenship into the classroom. Funds of £12m were available during 2000-2001 and 2002-2003 funding is available within the schools improvement pot. The Government is supporting citizenship financially, and policing with Ofsted,
Awards schemes are available from bodies such as Activecitiizen, Anne Frank Trust, Barclays New Futures, Breakfast Club, National Lottery Good Causes, Duke of Edinburgh Award, National Youth Agency, and the Princes Trust.

It would be right to say that the Government and many out side bodies are taking the teaching of Citizenship very seriously.

The Crick report identifies three strands that should run through all education for citizenship.

1.     Social and moral responsibility. Children learning from the very beginning self-confidence and socially and morally responsible behavior both in and beyond the classroom, both towards those in authority and towards each other.
2.     Community involvement. Learning about and becoming helpfully involved in the live and concerns of their neighborhood communities, including learning through community involvement and service to the community.
3.     Political literacy. Pupils learning about the institutions, problems and practices of our democracy and how to make themselves effective in the life of the nation, locally, regionally, and nationally through skills and values as well as knowledge this can be termed political literacy, seeking for a term wider than political knowledge alone.
(The Crick report 1998)
www.dur.ac.uk/r.d.smith/crick.hml





As we live in a multi cultural society citizenship will teach our children about other religions cultures, and beliefs and how different people have different needs and how to respect the needs of others.
Citizenship will improve children’s spiritual, moral, and social development, which will build confidence in the children and they will to be able express their views at school, in the local community and the global community. Citizenship will teach them respect for themselves, friends, family, and mankind. The ethos of the school will be raised, as pupils from reception to sixteen will be taught citizenship at school. Providing opportunities for all students to learn with achievements being recognized since 2002 in the form of GCSE exams and Ofsted inspections for Secondary schools.

There are many arguments against the teaching of citizenship. The subject is huge. Can it be incorporated? How will the government monitor the teaching, and determine the subject’s success? What are the gains? Will the next generation be more interested in democracy? How will it be measured? Or will foreign children lose their cultural identities? How many years for the teaching to be come effective and at what cost? We also have the questions raised by Thompson, N (1996) Peoples skills, Macmillian: p.70 when we interact with other people, we do not start from a natural standpoint. We bring with us a whole range of values, beliefs and assumptions. So how can we all live together in the same world if we differ so much?


Having looked at the information on citizenship and how its being delivered as a subject for the classroom I think it is fair to say that citizenship is a positive subject to teach children. As a mother of two children I believe that children should be taught how to engage in a democratic society.
From my research I have found many arguments for the teaching of citizenship and I support this subject and believe that we should teach children to engage in a democratic society. Without doubt citizenship is a vast subject with many obstacles and issues in its way. I think that positive results will be seen from two of the three strands outlined in the (Crick report 1998) quicker than the third. I think there will be quantified results for strands one and two social and moral responsibility and community involvement. I believe that these two subjects are more people friendly and the positive results will be more visual than anything more political. The Government must see the teaching of citizenship to be a very long term benefit for the country as the Government are investing a large sum of money to introduce the teaching of Citizenship into schools but realistically the government will not be able to assess the results of the teaching of the third strand and if it has been successful for at least a period of fifteen years. I state this time as the teaching of citizenship was introduced to school in 2000 and we have to wait for the children of this year to reach voting age before any results can be looked at. Which leads to another question of how will the government track these students to see if they voted or not?
Word count 1417

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