ERIC Number: ED307203
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-May
Reference Count: N/A
Citizenship Education in the United States: A Statement of Needs.
Newmann, Fred M.
Informed observers, from the political right to the left, believe that citizen education requires reform. While its effects on public life may be unclear, democratic theory insists that education is required as a condition of democracy itself. Most often, students are given information about the founding of the government, its structure, and due process of law. Reformers advocate instruction concentrated on moral reasoning, public controversy, global interdependence, and cultural pluralism. Student participation in community service, political action, and school governance have also been proposed. Both mainstream and reform programs have failed because (1) citizen education receives low priority, (2) the curriculum offers inadequate attention to issues central to democratic citizenship, and (3) reform plans have not included teachers in the planning process. This analysis addresses the central issues neglected in both traditional and reform programs. Three orientations of citizenship education are discussed: cultural induction, emancipation, and the hidden curriculum of cynical realism. Thoughtful citizens need help dealing with the following issues: pluralism, distributive justice, individual interests and collective responsibility, and meaningful participation. Direct experience is necessary to motivate students and maximize retention and transfer, and participation is also a valuable source of citizenship knowledge. Reform initiatives should include teachers and must address those fundamental issues of modern U.S. citizenship that are neglected in educational programs. Education must rely on direct student experience and concentrate on issues such as pluralism, distributive justice, and meaningful participation. (GEA)
Descriptors: Citizen Participation, Citizen Role, Citizenship Education, Citizenship Responsibility, Civics, Democracy, Democratic Values, Educational Change, Educational Improvement, Elementary Secondary Education, Experiential Learning, Social Studies, Student Participation, Teacher Participation, United States Government (Course)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Policymakers; Practitioners
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center on Effective Secondary Schools, Madison, WI.
Note: Paper presented at the National Conference on Civic Renewal (Boston, MA, November 15-17, 1987).