"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, November 21, 2016

We Want Our Youth to Become Engaged Citizens

Children are indeed introduced to Social Studies even in elementary school. When we study the past and current events, we are, of course, bound to stumble upon troubled incidents. Although unlike films or television shows, these issues do not come with ratings such as PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned, a rating in the Voluntary Movie Rating System indicating that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13). Children are still very much in early stages of development both socially and morally. Children are very much impressionable. After all, being easily influenced is a sign of youth. Children could be easily used to channel our own biases and judgments. For these reasons, teaching children how to become engaged in civic matters is particularly challenging.

Back in 1979, Nancy Eisenberg-Berg wrote a research article in the journal Developmental Psychology. She found that elementary school children think quite differently from those in high school. She wrote:
Elementary school children's reasoning tended to be hedonistic, stereotyped, approval and interpersonally oriented, and/or involved the labeling of others' needs (concern with others' needs reasoning).
Metzger and coworkers also recently found out significant differences between grade school children and adolescents. In "How Children Understand Civic Actions: A Mixed Methods Perspective", published in the Journal of Adolescent Research, elementary school children are found not likely to associate civic actions such as voting and environmentalism to purposeful actions. Metzger and coworkers wrote:
Overall, the age findings revealed a pattern that supported our general hypotheses. In particular, as suggested by the purpose finding, older adolescents may be better able to see a complex or higher order strength such as purpose as useful for a broader array of civic actions. Furthermore, the humility finding illustrated that older youth may be able to apply a broader array of related, yet less obvious, skills to a particular civic action. In fact, certain character strengths are seen as higher order qualities, meaning that they grow in correspondence with gains in abstract thinking and other cognitive skills.
The previous post in this blog, "There is a difference between education and indoctrination", is an invitation for all of us to examine how we introduce our children to active citizenship. DepEd Asec. Umali recently stated that sanctions may be imposed if students were obligated to participate in a protest rally. Umali also reiterated that participation in a protest rally can not be used as an extracurricular or out-of-school activity.

Above copied from PTV News
The previous post in this blog also mentioned an exercise done by second graders in the elementary school that my children attend. I was using this as an example of an activity that introduces young minds to democracy in an innocuous manner. Here is another example. This one goes much further than making a choice between "pajama day" or "crazy hair day", however, one must note how thoughtful this exercise was done. The activity is described in Social Studies and the Young Learner November 2011. The following page shows that the teacher is aware of developmental concerns:

Above copied from
Social Studies and the Young Learner November 2011
The choice, Marian Wright Edelman, likewise demonstrates how much effort teachers made to ensure that this lesson in social studies in indeed age-appropriate. Edelman is the founder of the Children's Defense Fund and has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans.




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