The Concept of Citizenship in Education for Democracy. ERIC Digest.Report as inadecuate

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The concept of citizenship is at the core of education for democracy. This Digest presents what citizenship is; why citizenship is an essential element of democracy; and how to teach about citizenship in a democracy. In a democracy, the source of all authority (the legitimate basis of all power) is the collective body of the people, the citizens of the polity. A citizen is a full and equal member of a polity. In some states or countries citizenship is based on the place of a person's birth; in other states citizenship is based on the citizenship of one's parents. The single identity possessed equally by all citizens of the polity is civic identity, the freely given commitment to certain civic principles and values of the democracy. Citizenship is the social and legal link between individuals and their democratic political community. The status of citizenship entails responsibilities and duties that must be fulfilled: paying taxes; serving in the military; obeying laws; loyalty and commitment to the state; and improving the quality of political and civic life. Students involved in education for democracy need to know what citizenship is; how it is acquired or lost; what rights, responsibilities, and duties are entailed by it; and how it is connected to the institutions of particular nation-states, including their own. Students also need to develop the participatory skills of interacting, monitoring, and influencing. These skills can be developed through (1) student participation in democratically conducted student organizations; (2) school-based community service that is connected to the school's curriculum; and (3) cooperative learning activities which pursue a common goal. The "We the People

.Project Citizen" program develops these skills. (JH)

Descriptors: Citizenship Education, Civics, Democracy, Secondary Education, Social Studies

ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education, 2805 East Tenth Street, Suite 120, Bloomington, IN 47408; Tel: 800-266-3815 (Toll Free).

Author: Patrick, John J.


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