The Role of Citizenship in Education
Citizenship is part of the curriculum for schools now, aiming to give children an insight into how societies work and their place in a functioning community. This is a valuable endeavour, and a useful introduction to the wider world beyond school. Working and managing your own life are very different than being at school or college, and the more pupils know and understand about adult life, the better they will be able to cope with it.
In terms of applying citizenship lessons in a practical form, a broad range of topics and concepts needs to be covered, with the emphasis on the practical skills and knowledge that a child requires as they become an adult, rather than the academic knowledge that forms the core of their education.
Ways to use businesses to teach citizenship
It’s always more interesting and memorable for children if they have a special visitor come to the school and talk to them about a particular topic, or if they get to visit the business premises and see what the environment is like at first hand. It makes the whole experience more real and more relevant, and thus they are far likelier to retain what they have heard.
Vital services like police, fire and rescue, healthcare, and essential businesses like farming and manufacturing are all excellent organisations from whom to bring in speakers. Understanding how these services and industries work is important for everyone in a society. There are the basic concepts such as when you should go to accident and emergency departments and when it’s more appropriate to see a doctor. By finding out first hand the effects of not abiding by the guidelines, pupils can appreciate the importance of being responsible citizens and respecting these services. Then there is the wider understanding of how these services and industries contribute to the society as a whole.
Introducing children to the difficult concepts of adult life
Our instinct as adults is to protect children from harm and never to let them feel scared or upset. This is an important role of course, but it’s a mistake to become overprotective and never let them have any exposure to the harsh realities of life. The problem is that an over-protected child will feel overwhelmed when they encounter anything they haven’t experienced, making it far more traumatic and distressing for them. A child who has been through some difficult experiences will, if they have been emotionally supported, be far better able to cope with what adult life throws at them, as they will have developed coping mechanisms and the knowledge that they can get through difficult times. For that reason, introducing pupils to the more challenging aspects of adult life is an important way of contributing to their development. For example, an insight into the work and role of solicitors like those at Minton Morrill will introduce children to the concepts of dealing with potentially traumatic adult situations.
Having a broad knowledge and understanding of the adult world is an essential skill for school pupils. Citizenship and PHSE classes can contribute enormously to helping them cope successfully with life beyond school.