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We suggest that there is a need for those who seek to explore issues associated with the implementation of citizenship education in England to clarify its specific nature. This can be done, at least in part, through a process of comparison. To that end we review some of the connections and disjunctions between ‘character education’ and ‘citizenship education’. We argue, drawing from US and UK literature but focusing our attention on contexts and issues in England, that there are indeed some broad areas of overlap between these two fields. Citizens should be of ‘good’ character and the educational initiatives that we consider both emerge from a concern about current trends in society. However, we suggest that the overlaps with citizenship education principally apply when character education is drawn very broadly. When we examine a particular approach to character education that is often US-based, and titled as ‘citizenship’, we note many contrasts with citizenship education as formulated in the National Curriculum for England. We suggest that citizenship educators in England need to interpret claims about the similarity between these two fields with caution, or meanings that apply to both character education and citizenship education will be distorted.

Keywords: character; citizenship; education; implementation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of York

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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