All the right questions….

One of today’s speakers cunningly reminds me of that old chestnut :”there is no such thing as the right answers only good questions” . If he is trying to find a clever way of telling us he is finding it hard to answer some of our questions I am with him in that boat completely!

I have been bombarded with difficult but GREAT questions all day. It is fantastic to be challenged. As part of my presentation covering the experiences of CF, I prompted a discussion about the need for citizenship education specifically using the experiences of my work across the Participation and Social Action team projects: G-Nation, Go Givers and Youth Act. As the Youth Act video rumbles to it’s joyful Marvin-Gaye-music -end in the background, hands shoot up, this has to be a good sign…..No.1

“How can you possibly examine citizenship learning?” “How can you possibly examine what it means to be an active citizen?”

These questions of course refer to assesment and in particular the GCSE in citizenship highlighting confusion about what citizenship education’ s purpose actually is. Not an uncommon confusion but the answer lies of course inthe aim not being to produce “good, model, obedient citizens” but about encouraging learning to debate, discuss and develop arguements, participate and feel access to the same rights, responsibilities and power to take action in society. “But”, question number 2, ” What is your definition of power?”

That is a very difficult question (here is wher the previous quote comes in handy). One which I can only begin to answer by stating that the aim of Youth Act and all of our projects is to empower young people to feel that they have the right, power and responsibility to take action.

Question 3: “What criticism have you received?” This is a particularly interesting question in terms of Spain where a big debate is brewing over the introduction of Citizenship Education and making religious education, the traditional arena of values, moral and social education, non-obligatory. As plans are put into place for citizenship education to offer space to discuss such issues, voices from more conservative circles can be heard in outcry to the introduction of this new subject. Spain, after all, is still a catholic country and this is a very serious debate.

The questioning continues, however, I’ll leave you with the best ones to attempt for yourselves…I have some lovely conference pens for the winners…….

How can you be sure that teachers are fully prepared to teach citizenship?
How do you confront difficult citizenship issues in the classroom?
Can citizenship transcend all subjects? Is it not enough for it to be covered in an interdisciplinary fashion?

Here are some photos of my time in Madrid

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

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