Citizenship education – at it’s best – prepares young people to take part in society as engaged and informed citizens. It looks to the future and asks young people: ‘what do you want the world to look like?’ and ‘what are you going to do about it?’
Though it’s only been statutory for a few years, citizenship education is already under threat. There are some people suggesting that the best place to learn about what it means to be a British citizen is in a history class, by celebrating what has been achieved in the past, and not in citizenship education, with its emphasis on the present and future action.
What’s going on here? Is trusting young people to critically examine the legal, political and economic institutions that govern society and empowering them to engage with these institutions just too threatening a proposition for some adults? Or is history really the best place to learn about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship? Does it have to be an ‘either or’ choice between history and citizenship education?