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Responsible Citizens: A Flight of Fancy

June 11, 2012

Especially for those engaged in Scotland’s Curriculum, I thought I’d have a look at what it means to be a Responsible Citizen. (Warning: some of what follows may not be entirely serious)

According to the CfE Four Capacities, a Responsible Citizen has the following attributes:

  • Respect for others
  • Commitment to participate responsibly in political, economic, social and cultural life

In addition, they have the following capacities. They can:

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of the world and Scotland’s place in it
  • Understand different beliefs and cultures
  • Make informed choices and decisions
  • Evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues
  • Develop informed, ethical views of complex issues

I will be honest, I think these are outstanding statements for a curriculum. They are worthy of aspiring to, but I wonder how well we as teachers are in demonstrating these to the learners we hope to impart them to… and how would a teacher discuss all of these with a class of senior pupils…

Now class, we show we have respect for others by telling them their opinions are not to be trusted… and before you ask, no, you can’t access YouTube in school… It’s bad… you need to just sit down, shut up, and respect my authority…

We demonstrate our commitment to participating responsibly in political, economic, social and cultural life by making sure that social media tools are blocked (because they are social). No Johnny, we stop access to social media tools because they are not an important part of our political, economic and cultural life. For goodness sake, next you’ll be asking if Barak Obama would have won without social media? Or that the SNP’s groundbreaking use of social media tools in the 2011 election was important? Yes Mary, I have heard of the Occupy Movement, and the Arab Spring, but I don’t see what they have to do with Twitter. It’s just reports of what people had for breakfast. It’s not like the National Theatre’s on twitter, is it? Anyway, you’re kids so you aren’t interested in politics or culture, or things like that… That’s why we block all these sites. I’m surprised you even notice.

Still… it’s not all bad. We help you develop knowledge and understanding of the world and Scotland’s place in it by avoiding online stuff. Who needs to know how to use social media tools to have a discussion with people from other cultures across the world in an effort to share what it means to be Scottish, or Australian, or Canadian, or French, or Dundonian… Use Skype in the classroom? That’s just silly. No, what we like doing to help you to understand other cultures is to sit in rows in a classroom while wearing the same clothes and facing the front to listen to the teacher… We call the lesson North Korea 101, and think you will get a lot out of the lesson. You mum and dad did when they were here 30 years ago.

Different beliefs and cultures… mmm… tricky one that. We don’t really want you to actually find out about other beliefs or ideas because … well, I know… we’ll block them to be on the safe side. I mean, look at that lot… they sound like a cult… I mean, nobody uses the internet, do they?

Yes class, well, you know how we are meant to be teaching you to make informed choices and decisions? Well, it turns out we may be being a little economical with the truth on that one. That’s why we do so much blocking and filtering of the internet. Now you don’t have to worry your little heads about the big bad world… Yes, class. I know we could teach you about these things so you could make your own decisions, but… well, you know… you’re just kiddies.

Yes, I had heard that you are old enough to get married, join the Army, have a family, have a mobile phone with better connection speed that the school’s network, but — despite all these things — we’re just going to make the decisions about what you can and can’t do for you. Now, why are you not wearing your uniform? What do you mean you checked the weather forecast and decided warm clothes were more sensible than a blazer and tie in a blizzard… it’s not your decision to make. This is a school you know… not real life.

One last thing class… we do need to talk about technological issues. Hands up all the people in the class who have a mobile phone? Good… now put them away. They are a distraction. Also some people use them to find out the answers before I’ve told you what the answer is… and their answer might be more modern than mine and you might think I was wrong because I went to University in the 1990s… yes, that was before the Internet and Wikipedia and YouTube and Twitter and all those distractions…

Anyway class, I’m glad we had this little chat because as long as you remember what I’ve said, you’ll have developed informed, ethical views on these complex issues. No, Peter, I think you’ll find me telling you what to do and say and think and learn is exactly what developing views on complex issues means. Now, take out your slates and chalk, we’re going to have a test on why the internet is powered by fairies and pixie dust…

With very real apologies to anyone who actually can write well… ;o) I was going to try doing something similar for ‘effective contributors‘ but instead I’ll leave you with this screen grab from my phone.

The WIFi link at the bottom of the list is coming from one of the learners in the class who has jailbroken his iPhone to use it as an ad hoc WiFi network (unfiltered) for his friends.

Even if you were cynical (which I am not), you would have to acknowledge that he has actually demonstrated all of the Attributes and Capacities of an Effective Contributor…



5 Comments leave one →
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