Reflecting back on my experiences with citizenship education, I do not remember learning much about citizenship in elementary school. In elementary school we barely discussed citizenship. I remember my elementary teachers telling us how to be “good citizens” (respect those around you, use manners, be polite, etc.), but that was it. However as I entered high school we had two classes in Grade 10 customized for us to learn about citizenship.
These classes were Health and Wellness 10, and Career Education 10. In Wellness 10 we were taught how to be “good citizens,” relationships, and rights. We were told that good citizens are respectful, responsible, and polite. We learnt about different types of relationships (family, community, and peer relationships). We learnt about that challenges that we may face with relationships. My teacher also touched on the rights that we have as citizens in society.
In Career Education 10, our teacher used an online resource where we were assigned a job. This resource gave us our annual salary, both before and after deductions. With this resource we learnt about finances and budgeting. We were given options in which we got to select a house, vehicle, our family, and then we could add additional items as well (a boat, a cabin, a camper, etc.). Once selecting all of our items the resource would show us how much money we have left, most students were bankrupt. This class taught us how to be responsible adults in society, as well as how to be participants (workers).
The types of citizenships discussed in the reading, “What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy,” by Joel Westheimer (2004) include;
- Personally Responsible
- Justice Oriented (p. 1).
The types of citizenships focused on in my schooling were; personally responsible and participatory. We were taught to be respectful and responsible. In my one class (Career Education 10) we had a field experience where we were treated like adult citizens. We got to choose our field experience, I chose to be at my school (Grade 3 classroom). My role as an adult was similar to the role of an educational assistant. I helped students with their work, I supervised the class, and I corrected work. I got the chance to learn how to control the class on my own (be independent and responsible). I learnt how to be professional, as I had to be a good role model for the students I was working with. As an adult citizen we have so many responsibilities in life, by high school experiences have allowed me to take on some of these responsibilities and challenges that adult citizens face in everyday life.
Learning citizenship education in school has made it possible for me to learn how to be a responsible and respectful adult. I learnt how to deal with situations that we will face as adults in the “real world.” What I found to be a disadvantage is that we were only taught how to be a “good citizen” thought the eyes of one person. We were taught through one person’s perspective of what citizenship is/means.
Westheimer, J., & Kahne, J. (2004). What kind of citizen? The politics of educating for democracy. Retrieved March 2, 2019, from http://www.civicsurvey.org/sites/default/files/publications/what_kind_of_citizen.pdf