Why citizenship? Who should teach it?

When I was growing up and going to school in the late 70’s and early 80’s citizenship formation was minimal in schools or at least my school.  Our citizenship was at the very basic level of a personally responsible citizen. We were taught to finish school, get a job to provide for yourself, obey the rules of the school and laws of society and being in a Catholic school, the golden rule was front and center, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  These are very generic and vague ideas of citizenship.  In my school days, we often didn’t do fundraising for this cause or that cause. I am not sure if we didn’t do this because it wasn’t common then or if it was because we lived in a neighbourhood and school that received donations.  While the fundraising schools do now is needed, and a simple way to create awareness and empathy for causes I don’t think it is enough.

In light of Gerald Stanley trial, the verdict and the vile comments on social media, I think we need to change our idea of what it means to be a citizen, even as a personally responsible citizen.  Prior to my journey through education, I would have had a very different reaction to the events that have transpired.  Through ECS 110, my views and opinions in many issues have changed dramatically.  I won’t delude you into thinking that I agree with everything we learned, but the bigger idea is how I look at things in general.  I left ECS 110, thinking that everyone should be made to take that class, whether being a teacher or not.  After this week, I think that content needs to start in the schools.  I think education of the underlying causes of the way things are would go a long way in bridging this chasm we have in the world, between those we consider “normal and good” and those who are viewed as not.  I think a part of being a personally responsible citizen is being able to have these tough conversations, whether online or in person, is be able to listen, and make your point with out stooping to name calling, stereotypes, and all the other garbage that people feel free to spew from behind a screen.

As teachers, I think it is our responsibility to develop our skills in having these intense conversations, so that we can be good models for our students and give them the skills to handle issues, so that everyone can be heard. I think as teachers it is our responsibility because our students need good models, when so many things around them don’t know how to handle tough topics in a positive way. That being said, I honestly don’t know if I was in a middle years or high school how I could ever begin to convince my students that we need to work together.

 

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