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Civic learning: moving from the apolitical to the socially just

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Abstract:

This study examines the knowledge and skills that characterize civic learning for young people. Building on a literature review, it reports an exploratory case study with students and teachers in four secondary schools in the Ottawa, Canada region. The perspectives of researchers co-operating with educators and students against a backdrop of provincial government curricula and secondary literature on youth citizenship engagement provide an enriched understanding of the state and potential of civic learning. It concludes that current civic learning is primarily characterized by procedural knowledge and compliant codes of behaviour that do not envelope students in collective action for systemic understandings of political issues. This study argues for renewed efforts to put social justice at the heart of student learning. To present a convincing civic educational programme, schools should prepare students to analyse power relationships, investigate the ambiguities of political issues, and embrace opportunities for social change.

Keywords: Canada; civics; social justice education; student attitudes; youth and democracy

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00220271003587400

Affiliations: 1: Renison University College, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada 2: University of Ottawa,

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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