Citizens of tomorrow

I do not think you can be one kind of citizen but rather the style of citizenship changes throughout your life or you have certain traits of each style. For example, planning one food drive does not make you a participatory citizen forever but in that certain time you are a participatory citizen. The cookie cutter citizen, the personally responsible, just like the ‘good student’ will only go so far, and at different points everyone either wants to do more with their life, which could have negative or positive effects.  This can lead to the loss of areas of their citizenship, such as the right to vote, but this could mean becoming more involved within the community to make a difference.

I was taught to be a personally responsible citizen, but it was always paired with recognition. For example, every time we fundraised for a charitable cause in elementary school, we were publically recognized in some way, including newspaper articles and shot outs on the division website. It is like giving to charity and receiving a gift in return, as you question whether you are donating for the gift or out of the kindness of your heart or for the recognition. Even within my high school clubs there were different types of citizenship. The basketball teams and band programs were personally responsible citizens, even though they fundraised and played events many were to benefit themselves or others around them. Our SRC was focused on both the school and the community, wanting to make a connection between the two, making them participatory citizens. Finally, the more justice oriented clubs were social justice, SHOUTS (an inclusion group) and SADD; these groups were involved in different events but were also trying to find answers to the problems within our school and society. When looking at my division website, the only time citizenship is explained is involving either digital citizenship or Canadian citizenship. This might indicate that the division has no plan or goal that is focused on the students’ future in this society. Within elementary school my school placed an emphasis on peace and anti-bulling but I found that it was individual clubs and classes that made the emphasis on giving back and volunteering.

Outside organizations, such as MADD, were brought into our school for presentations by different groups, which would be participatory citizens but only the students who were impacted by the presentation would be viewed as personally responsible. Since many of the lessons of citizenship are subliminal, there is no way to know if students are actually receiving the information or if they are being taught something different at home. Even though these groups were brought in and these students learned the dangers of things like drunk driving or texting and driving some still choose to do so.

So much of citizenship is taught through invisible curriculum, but there are times in which this is not enough and the lessons being taught need to be shown directly to the students. In an extreme case, my sister’s grade 4 class was forced to take a class called empathy, in which the entire class would meet with their homeroom teacher and the school counselor to learn about healthy social interactions. We also had girl circles, that were teaching young girls healthy communication but also it helped with them build confidence especially in new situations.

Even if school is viewed as future job training, politics come into play within the work force and unless students are exposed to the information prior they may not know how to act in some circumstances. I know that I am not confident in my political knowledge because it was never emphasized as important in school. Even in the last federal election, Canadian governmental politics were not talked about, not even with a social studies class. On the flip side, I learned more than I had ever known about the different areas of the United States Election.

Even though students are taught to be personally responsible people, it can actually turn people into cookie cutter citizens that do good things only if it somehow helps them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s