Citizenship is Sound

If we hold to enlightenment ideals, for example of the importance of reasoning and the full development of the human mind, we should feel required to try to throw open society for examination. This is another example of education as having a function beyond its own intrinsic value. Education allows ‘what is’ to be analysed and criticised in order that ‘what ought to be’ may be discussed. Moreover, education should be concerned with discussing the blurred and shifting boundary between what is and what ought to be – it is here that we discover what constitutes the values of a society.
Citizenship is, however, more than opening the status quo to criticism. The social sciences, of course, already have a role in this, although not in the form that they currently exist in schools. I suspect, for example, that not many secondary school history teachers teach constitutional history to the present day or the current workings of the judiciary system, and I don’t know many schools that offer KS4 politics. As well as critical analysis, citizenship is also about functioning within society. This is not a contradiction. Indeed it is an absolute cornerstone of enlightened, liberal, democratic societies that one can be a part of, and function, indeed flourish, within society whilst engaging in criticism of it. This kind of education, learning how to function in society, does not have to be inherently conservative if its purpose is to teach ‘political literacy’ – what are the levers of power that cause change and how to use them.

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