Miners, diggers, ferals and show-men

Creative school–community projects

Authored by: Pat Thomson

The Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning

Print publication date:  July  2011
Online publication date:  July  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415548892
eBook ISBN: 9780203817568
Adobe ISBN: 9781136730047


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The notion of ‘active citizenship’ has a long history. Underpinning active citizenship approaches in the formal curriculum are a variety of views about the necessity for young people to take more active, creative, ‘real’ roles in schools. Arguments that are offered include:

young people can learn about democracy and citizenship through a formal course of study, but will learn to be constructive members of a democracy if they have experience and practice in citizenship;

the learnings in civics become more relevant when they are connected to actual ‘real-life’ democratic participation in activities – this means giving students ‘real things to do’ (Holdsworth, 2000) rather than having them as token participants;

the school is a social microcosm and it is therefore important that it function in ways that are congruent with what students are being taught in the formal curriculum – this means ‘good governance’ (Pearl and Knight, 1999);

many young people are alienated both from society at large and from schools (Mellor, 1998); in order to re-engage students in schools, and therefore in wider society, schools must work on ways in which young people can be reconnected with the curriculum and involved in wider school and community activities (Semmens and Stokes, 1997);

young people are in fact already citizens (Wyn, 1995) whose rights to participate in decisions that affect them are daily violated in schools; according students more active roles is therefore to allow them to be functioning members of society.

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