Citizenship through Secondary History

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

Conclusions

The past is the fabric that throws citizenship into relief; it is the springboard from which citizens learn to think and act. As an academic discipline, history is closely allied with the issues of citizenship, and the aims and methods of teaching and learning history in schools coincide neatly with the principal concerns of the characterisation of citizenship developed by the authors of the National Curriculum. The current situation is a positive one in which the purpose and place of history in the secondary school curriculum are more assured. This is both in spite of the largely unhelpful, negative, angst-ridden outbursts (occurring on an almost annual basis), that describe history as being forever in danger, and because of the boost that can be provided by citizenship. History has always been potentially important and useful for adolescents. The opportunity is now more readily available for teachers and others to help school students learn and act as citizens.

These positive developments may alarm some people. If one considers the full range of purposes of the school curriculum, some may feel that teachers are being asked to do too much or to do what can be done elsewhere. Some of these ideas have been rebutted earlier in this book. It is worth emphasising, however, that if one sees the curriculum as offering opportunities for academic pursuit, personal growth or some sort of professionally based utilitarian method of developing individuals and democratic society in particular ways, then citizenship education can help the history teacher. The issues of citizenship are intellectually demanding, they are intimately bound up with intensely personal notions such as identity and the goal is for education to make a positive contribution. Citizenship education offers teachers the opportunity to develop their own particular emphasis within a coherent but flexible framework.

It is hoped that this book will assist teachers to develop clearer insights into citizenship. The proliferation of models of citizenship has led to what, at times, have been confused and confusing debates, often conducted between separate and somewhat closed groups of political scientists, philosophers and sociologists rather than with and between teachers. The need to clarify the debates associated with rights, responsibilities, identity and action for a pluralistic modern democracy is still pressing and will not be achieved in a simple and straightforward manner. There is not only the challenge of characterising citizenship theoretically but also, and very importantly, considering how key ideas can be seen to relate in the real world of citizenship as practised. Furthermore, there is a need to deliberately identify the links between theory and practice by focusing on the perspectives

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