|Editor||Future Citizens in Europe Ed. Alistair Ross|
Political education' is not today a term in frequent use: for many years it has been regarded with suspicion. In much of Eastern Europe it is now associated with the educational policies of the former regimes and as akin to indoctrination. In Western Europe and North America, it has been criticised variously as impossible, unnecessary and an interference with the liberties of the individual and/or family. It has been argued that children are incapable of the sort of complex social thinking that is necessary to understand politics; that political understanding should not be formally transmitted by the educational system, but should properly be absorbed from family, the media and the political institutions themselves; and that it is impossible to tackle in an unbiased, even-handed way, and should therefore not be attempted. Despite these criticisms, there has been some recent resurgence of interest in this area, often through forms of 'rebranding' - as civics education, citizenship education, or political literacy. This paper has two foci: a critique of current initiatives, and an attempt to suggest a model for development with younger children.