week 8 – citizenship

When I think back to my experience with citizenship, it seems that my time spent in elementary school focused on becoming a personally responsible citizen,  and junior high to high school focused more on becoming a participatory citizen.  I think that my elementary schooling taught me how to participate but did not look at bigger picture ideas such as organizing events or focus on broader questions that the justice oriented citizen looks at.  After completing the reading I felt a little disappointed that citizenship from the justice orientated perceptive was not an idea that I was able to explore.  I think that children have a good understanding of what is fair; therefor introducing citizenship from a justice oriented perceptive from a young age would be helpful in the long run.  If students are able to talk about and grasp big picture ideas like “why don’t people have enough to eat” students may feel more motivated later on in their lives to pursue action in areas of justice.  I think that we often underestimate young children and their capability to think about social problems.  People will think they’re young, they won’t care, but children understand right from wrong and will want to help solve problems.

After elementary school  I became more involved in extra curricular activities like student government.  This gave me the skills described in the participatory citizen section of the reading.  I learned how to plan events and developed leadership skills.  This, however, did not set me up to become a citizen in society.  I did not learn about voting, or ways that I can improve society.  Although I took Canadian history I only learned about the past, we did not focus on the political parties of today, and what I should expect when I am able to vote.  I think that when citizenship is taught in schools, it does not seriously looks at creating participating citizens.  Instead it looks at a general idea of a citizen.  Students are able to understand that they are Canadian but do not know what that entails.

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