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ERIC Number: ED534584
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 182
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2670-3855-5
Building Voice, Taking Action: Experiences of Youth from a Civic Focused School
Gordon, Pamela Jane
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Harvard University
This project builds on existing literature which argues that schools, given their broad reaching influence, can serve as central institutions to help encourage and sustain civic engagement (Bixby & Pace, 2008; Branson, 2001; CIRCLE, 2003; Gutmann, 1987; Putnam, 2000; Flanagan & Faison, 2001; Galston, 2003; Atkins & Hart, 2002; Torney-Purta, 2002a). The experiences that youth have in their primary and secondary schooling, including participating in organizations with strong civic practices, can have lasting effects on students' civic identity (Youniss, McLellan, & Yates, 1997). If we hope to influence young people's civic engagement, schools are a potentially powerful part of the equation. There are schools that commit to civic education across the curriculum, quality civics instruction, opportunities for action, and authentic youth decision-making opportunities (Gordon, 2007; McQuillan, 2005; Berman, 2003; Smith, 2003; Wood, 2005; Mosher et al. 1994). My study considers promising theory about whole-school civic reform and investigates the student experience in one exemplar school. My study explores how students and alumni who attend(ed) a school that intentionally and deliberately fosters democratic citizenship describe their civic experiences, roles, identities, and responsibilities. In this qualitative study, I invite current and former students from an urban public charter school into a conversation about whole-school civic practices. Interviews suggest that when youth engage in political activity as part of a school program, they begin to develop a civic identity and learn skills and knowledge that help them to act as democratic citizens. Participants used newly learned political skills both inside and outside of school with varying degrees of success or influence. Ultimately, they believed citizenship was grounded in a commitment to community and an appreciation of basic constitutional rights and democratic principles. Participants defined public engagement as political action. They articulated a sense of efficacy and the belief that they can be politically active. The actions they took through school experiences and the beliefs those experiences gave them are likely to inspire them to be politically active in the future. Few schools focus on political action. This school does, and according to participants, has a curricula and structures in place that are successful. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A