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Approaches to Civics and Citizenship

The Civics and Citizenship domain focuses on developing students’ knowledge and understanding of civic institutions and processes, community engagement and practice of democracy. Student learning is enhanced by providing opportunities and links to events and issues that are real and relevant for students and the community. The following advice provides examples and strategies for:

Use contemporary events | Use current issues | Provide democratic classrooms | Develop opportunities for school and community engagement | Resources | Show all

Use contemporary events

Schools mark events that are significant to the school, the community and the nation. Such events provide opportunities to teach students about significant aspects of our democracy, practise skills and enact and question democratic values. Events often incorporated into the school calendar include:

As well as these, there are celebrations that are significant to particular groups that make up the Australian nation such as Chinese New Year. These provide students with an entry into understanding the histories, cultures, beliefs and values that are part of our modern multicultural nation.

A basic approach to these events would see the following questions considered:

There are many examples available of learning programs that schools provide around these national events. See Resources.

Use current issues

Current issues and events provide a way for students to understand civics and citizenship. They are a means of linking what students already know from the media to the theory about democratic political and legal institutions and values such as fairness, equality, representation and accountability that underpin a democracy. A focus on contemporary issues also provides a means of developing students’ thinking and critical capacities. They also provide models of the ways that citizens can activity participate, question and improve democracy.

Some regular events that provide such opportunities include:

Provide democratic classrooms

Effective learning about democracy requires that students not only learn about democracy but also act on the basis of their understandings. The classroom provides a key means through which students learn the practice of democracy. The culture, processes and protocols of the classroom will provide students with democratic understandings which are transferred to the playground, their home, the local community and national and global contexts.

There are a range of classroom practices which will support and enable students to practise democracy. Some of the key aspects include:

Develop opportunities for school and community engagement

The involvement of students in a range of school governance and broad school and community programs is an essential part of learning about society, developing skills and practising what it means to be a responsible citizen in a democratic society.

Specific teaching and learning programs and extra-curricular activities provide opportunities for students to develop:

Schools provide opportunities to develop these knowledge, skills and behaviours in activities such as:

These programs develop understanding and skills across all strands and in domains such as Health and Physical Education, The Humanities and Thinking Processes.

The value of these programs is such that they are important for all students and should be structured into all school programs.


Knowledge Bank (www.sofweb.vic.edu.au/knowledgebank)

There are a range of ideas and models of how Victorian schools develop civics and citizenship learnings.

A number of case studies relating to civics and citizenship education in schools have been published in the ‘Whole School Improvement’ and ‘Community, Involvement and Partnerships’ sections of Knowledge bank. These include:

Discovering Democracy Resources

All Victorian schools have been provided with a range of resources under the Discovering Democracy Program (1997–2004). Teachers will find that there are a number of units and resources in the Discovering Democracy materials that support the learning focus and standards in Civics and Citizenship.

Learning materials and activities in the Discovering Democracy units are designed with a strong focus on stimulating students' interest and active engagement. The material incorporates a range of approaches to teaching and learning including:

The resources include:

Discovering Democracy (www.curriculum.edu.au/ddunits/units/units.htm) units are available online. Teachers will also find a range of teaching and learning activities at this site.

Other valuable resources:

The Big Australia Day Book, (2004 Curriculum Corporation):
For lower primary students it covers themes of identity, harmony and diversity through stories, songs, poems and pictures.

Being Australian, (2005 Curriculum Corporation):
For upper primary students Themes of heroes, symbols of Australia, identity, harmony, multiculturalism.

Access Asia resources: Japan Diary, The Really Big Food Project, Australian Kaleidoscope and others (Themes of intercultural understanding and Australian identity. See: www.asiaeducation.edu.au)

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