Youth Futures: Comparative Research and Transformative Visions

By Jennifer Gidley; Sohail Inayatullah | Go to book overview

Chapter 11
Citizens of the New
Century: Perspectives
from the United Kingdom

Cathie Holden

I hope that all the children and grown-ups who are dying of hunger get some food and live.

—girl, age seven

I want to see more solar power and more green power.

—girl, age thirteen

I’m worried that war, nuclear weapons will destroy the world.

—girl, age fourteen

The late 1990s has seen much discussion in the United Kingdom about our values as a postmodern society, with fears that young people are growing up with no moral code, cynical and disillusioned about the part they can play in society as adults. The changing roles of men and women in the workplace and in the family, the advent of new technology, and the role of schools are all part of this debate. One outcome has been the proposal for a new subject, education for citizenship, for all pupils aged eleven to sixteen, with the intention that young people should be “informed, critical, and responsible” and thus “able to participate in society as active citizens of our democracy.”

However, in all the debate about how we should educate children for their role as citizens of the next century, there has been little discussion of what young children themselves think and feel, and how they see their future and the part they would like to play. Often only the voices of adults are heard. If we are to understand what the citizens of tomorrow value and are prepared to work for, then we need to listen to the children now in our schools. This chapter aims to assist with this process, drawing on the find-

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