Education for citizenship is important because every society needs people to contribute effectively, in a variety of ways, to the future health and wellbeing of communities and the environment, locally, nationally and globally. Fostering active and responsible citizens contributes to the process of developing a healthy and vibrant culture of democratic participation. Whilst all individuals share the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, regardless of status, knowledge or skill, it is clear that citizenship may be exercised with different degrees of effectiveness.
The opportunities for learning that are provided in primary education make important contributions to the process of educating for active and responsible citizenship. At the same time, the contributions of formal education need to be seen alongside, and in interaction with, parents, carers and the media and opportunities for community-based learning. Also, primary schools need to take account of the diversity of the local communities in which young people live.
Aims of the topic
The rights and responsibilities of citizens are reciprocal in many respects. If we all have a right to be treated with respect, then it follows that we have a clear obligation to treat all others with respect. If we all have a right to a say on matters that affect our lives, then we have a responsibility to attend to the views of others on matters that also affect them. However, it is also clear that perceptions of rights and responsibilities by individuals in different social groups are sometimes in conflict. Education for citizenship must recognise the existence of such conflicts, and must help children develop strategies for dealing effectively with controversy.
These strategies include negotiation, compromise, awareness of the impact of conflict on the overall wellbeing of the community and the environment, and development of well-informed respect for differences between people. Starkey (1992) maintains that any programme to promote values education is essentially concerned with human rights as these are internationally validated moral standards, universally accepted in principle in international discourse. Human rights provides an ethical and moral framework for living in the community, whether this to local or global.
I chose the topic of children’s rights- Human rights (unit 7 for key stage 2) as I believe taking responsibility for ensuring our rights and those of others is not always an easy business. It often requires standing out from the crowd, being a lone voice and making difficult choices. But learning to take responsibility has a direct link with teaching against prejudice and intolerance and developing self esteem in children. Knowing about rights and responsibility, understanding what they are, and how they have been struggled for and sustained, are important elements in the preparation of children for life in the democratic society.
Children of all ages express concerns or outrage at events or situations which they see as unjust, in their own lives and wider world. For example, children will often cry out “that’s not fair!” when they have experienced injustice. Human rights education can be build on understanding of injustice, the sense of fair play and can explore why certain behaviour is unfair. The topic may be demanding for children with special educational needs, however, depending on the nature of learning difficulties most children will be able to communicate choices.
They should be encouraged to be aware of the views and needs of others and to take more responsibility for themselves and to take an active part in the school community. Background knowledge for teachers: The first unit in the scheme of work is teaching about “wants and needs”, this is then followed by teaching of “rights and responsibility”. Consider the following when planning for Human rights.(lister 1984)