Access to Citizenship Education: contributions by David Kerr and Erik Flügge

David Kerr, the director of Educational Programmes at the Citizenship Foundation in London, presented priorities for Civic and Citizenship Education in Europe. He briefly summarized the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study from 2009 (ICCS), best data base of this kind – as he claimed. Research carried out in 38 countries all over the world gathered responses of teachers and 130 000 students about their perception of civic and citizenship education. Although civic and citizenship education is supposed to be a priority policy in education in most countries, and teachers generally consider this part of education as based on developing knowledge and skills, they are scarcely interested in preparing pupils for active participation. The study addresses various issues, for e.g.: students’ perception and attitudes, trust and active participation.

Basic points, which David Kerr recalled, are the key factors that influence civic knowledge and participation. Socioeconomic background,  parental interest, migrant and language status are among major valuables which have impact on students’ performance when concerning citizenship education. The more civic knowledge students have the more likely they are to participate. The speaker posed the question: How much civic knowledge do you need to participate?

Erik Flügge from Sinus Institute in Berlin focused on disadvantaged groups whose main characteristic is a consumerist, hedonistic orientation. They seem to be disoriented as far as politics and participation is concerned. – They have something to say about everything, but when it comes to question about politics they stop to speak. So the question is what do we measure? The interest in politics or what they name politics? – said Flügge. We need to teach those students that the things they care about are also political, that by participation, by voting they are able to have an impact on the matters that they perceive as their problems. What separates them from politics is a lack of translation - they express things differently and our role is to teach citizenship education using their words. Maybe it is no question of closing the gap, because perhaps the gap exists only in our minds…?

Citizenship Education
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