ECS 210 (Summer 2020): Blog 5

-What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling? What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus? Explore what this approach to the curriculum made (im)possible in regards to citizenship

During my K-12 years at École Monseigneur de Laval, the type of citizenship that was most commonly proposed was that of “Personally Responsible Citizen,” and sometimes “The Participatory Citizen.” We were encouraged to do the “right” thing, such as being quiet when the teacher talked, raise our hand when we had a question, etc. This good behavior was never explained; rather, it was simply presented to us as natural. Similarly, participating in the annual Terry Fox walks was explained as simply something “good” to do. Perhaps the teachers thought explaining this “good” behavior was unneeded because it simply “made sense”. The “natural”  approach certainly worked to keep order in the classroom, but it also got in the way in terms of making us into “Justice-Oriented Citizens.” In their article “What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy,” Westheimer and Kahne hit at the idea that schools are not teaching their students to be critical thinkers, but rather well-functioning citizens. While I do see their point, in my case learning how to be personally responsible helped me realize the importance of doing my part for society and the global community. It made it easier for me to understand the idea the “Justice-Oriented Citizen,” that was taught in high school.

-What does the approach we take to citizenship instruction in any given place tell us about that place? About what the curriculum makers value? About what kinds of citizens they want to produce?

Even though I was fortunate in school to learn about the concepts of “Personally Responsible Citizen,” “Participatory Citizen,” and “Justice-Oriented Citizen,” I can see how the education program might favour “Personally Responsible Citizen” over the others. Classes are often taught in lecture format to students sitting at individual desks. In other words, the structure is rigidly controlled and top-down. There is limited scope for students to exert individual agency and to question establish orthodoxies. In his “What Kind ofCitizen?,” Westheimer asserts that schools are teaching students how to prepare for the job market rather than pushing them to be the best types of people they can be. With standardisation comes a narrow outlook of knowledge and ideas, which limits students’ ability to self-express and understand what is truly going on in the world. Westheimer argues that schools should teach students a wider range of perspectives in order to give them a more accurate outlook on society. Similarly, Dr. Mike Cappelloon argues that schools continue to function according to a colonialist mindset. They ignore or gloss over past wrongs against First Nations peoples by colonialist settlers and promote the customs and norms of dominant white culture, thereby perpetuating the violence of settler colonialism. However uncomfortable it may be, past wrongs must be addressed squarely and in detail.


 Joel Westheimer speaking about citizenship: this video

Dr. Mike Cappello relates Treaty Education to citizenship: this podcast

“Limits of Personal Responsibility”: link here

1 Comment

  1. Hi Jacques!
    I had the same implementations of the “Personally Responsible Citizen” and the “Participatory Citizen” within my schooling experience. Like you have explained, this is not something that was explained to us, instead it was something that was enforced the second we started school. I found that the “Justice- Oriented Citizen” was introduced more in high schools, but still not considered as much as the other two types of citizenship. I wonder why these two types of citizenships are so common within all schools in Saskatchewan? I wonder how we, as pre- service teachers, can incorporate more of a “Justice- Oriented Citizen” into our teachings and allow our students to think critically about current social issues on their own?


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 )

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s