Citizenship through Secondary History

By James Arthur; Ian Davies et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

Teaching and learning European citizenship in history lessons

Introduction

European citizenship is now a reality in that there are political institutions such as the European Parliament, Commission and Court of Justice, and in that individual citizens have legal rights and duties associated with those institutions. There is also the strong possibility that European citizenship exists in other less tangible (and, possibly, wider) forms relating to a sense of what it means to be European. There are opportunities for history teaching to contribute to a number of different aspects of European citizenship. This would not, of course, necessarily mean an uncritical promotion of the supposed virtues of the European Union but perhaps allow for a critical and constructive exploration of the means by which European citizenship came into being and what it might mean in the future.

The general purposes of the teaching and learning of history as outlined in Chapter 2 show that various targets are used. Normally, those targets include three areas: the acquisition of knowledge and understanding of the past by the pupils as they become educated people; the development of a historical perspective and understanding; and the acquisition of historical knowledge and skills as a means to other ends which could include socialisation, preparation for citizenship and international understanding. In the light of these targets, it seems obvious that teaching and learning history are directly relevant to European citizenship, and also that the connections that are and could be made between history and European citizenship should be examined. In other words, as well as showing in this chapter that there are potential links between history education and European citizenship, it will be necessary to discuss the particular form and purposes of each area and to show the different possible interactions between them. Both history and citizenship education have many dimensions, and without an explicit justification for how and why they could relate, teachers and others would be left clutching only a sense of undifferentiated altruism.

This chapter begins with some brief comments on the nature of three important contexts: Europe; European citizenship; and citizenship education within Europe. The next main section of the chapter deals with the nature of history education in Europe. There is a detailed exploration of the possible overarching approaches to history education that may allow for a fruitful interaction with the nature and purposes of

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