ERIC Number: ED438212
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1999
What Passes for Citizenship? Conflict and Feminist Challenges to the Social Studies.
Democratic dispositions and skills can be taught by giving students complex political questions to address thoughtfully. Social studies curriculum in North America is constructed around avoiding controversy and thus suffers from a narrow and sometimes stifling viewpoint. The core of the historical narrative presented in public schools has been remarkably resistant to change. Recent textbook revisions have added some information about women and people of color, but often in marginal sidebars rather than in the story's flow. Female "firsts" in formerly male pursuits often are included in textbooks and curriculum documents because they fit the dominant image of "male" activity as to what matters. Feminist pedagogy opens a place where meaningful conflicts may be confronted and new understandings forged in the social studies. A safer learning climate would widen the margins of accepted viewpoints, encourage openness to learning, and initiate analytic dialogue regarding the inevitable paradoxes and discontinuities in democratic life. Knowing the vulnerability of children and adolescents to insecurity and peer censure, an educator could argue that it is unfair to expect all students to participate in conflictual pedagogy. However, people are generally interested in the ideas and activities with which they feel confident. Should not all students get a chance to develop confidence in voicing and substantiating their own opinions? If not in school social studies, where people supposedly prepare for citizenship, then where? Feminist perspectives can illuminate and help remediate the anti-democratic aspects of what sometimes passes for citizenship education. Real inclusion of women's concerns, problems, viewpoints, and cultures inevitably raises conflict, and conflict is the essence of pluralist democracy. (Contains 59 references.) (BT)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A