ERIC Number: ED307188
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988-Oct-7
Reference Count: N/A
Paradox and Promise in Citizenship Education: A Reaction to Butts and Hartoonian.
Leming, James S.
The basic paradox of citizenship education in the United States is that the first steps toward the rational, autonomous, critical-minded citizen required by a democracy are necessarily non-rational and based on an unquestioned deference to authority. The movement from the morality of authority to the morality of principle constitutes the challenge of citizenship education. It is in the period of adolescence that there exists a critical opportunity for the bridging of these two moralities. At some point in the maturation process of the individual, obedience to parent/teacher authority is tempered by the influence of a variety of social groups, and eventually the individual develops a sense of autonomy and allegiance to self-chosen principles. Citizenship education must not teach phoney concepts, or inadequately explain the meanings of terms such as rights. It should not be assumed that the value content of the curriculum is necessarily the value content learned by the students. It is also important to realize that by asking students to critically question society's realization of democratic values before they have internalized solid foundations for those values, they may cast those values aside when they find they are unable to resolve ambiguous or controversial value problems. A set of core values that are developmentally appropriate and lend themselves to application in concrete situations should rest at the heart of the civics curriculum. This curriculum should demand a high degree of student involvement, with personal significance to the students. It is extremely important to realize that at the level of the early adolescent, the goal of citizenship education is to assist in that long journey towards citizenship, not to immediately fabricate model citizens. Twenty-two references are included. (PPB)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Administrators; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the National Conference on the Future of Civic Education (Washington, DC, October 5-7, 1988). For related documents, see ED 302 474, SO 019 886 and SO 019 895-898.