London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Democratic participatory citizenship: what can teachers and schools can do towards it?

Author(s) Adam Niemczynski  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2001  
Editor A. Ross, Learning for Democratic Europe  
Language English  
Age group -  
A pilot study (Niemczynski, 2001) helped to define four attitudes of teachers towards students' participation. These attitudes can be ordered in a series, begining with the most remote from the meaning and ideals of participation: 'Student participation is to be conceived as the way students follow the teaching programme'; i.e. students have to accept goals and means implied by the teaching programme and have no possibility of contributing to it. 'Student participation means involving students at a time determined by the teacher/when it is convenient for the teacher' . This has moved from an impersonal programme to one regulated by the personal decisions of the teacher, who allows the students to make interventions of suitable content and form at the right time (from the teacher's point of view). 'Students have the opportunity to express opinions and submit proposals, but it is the teacher who decides what shall be accepted'. Students' contributions are allowed and invited by the teachers. However, the teachers do not make a link between the two realms - the freedom of ideas and proposals offered to the pupils, and their own teaching, on which the students' contribution has no impact. 'Teachers keep their students well informed and sometimes students are consulted by them about aspects of the process of their education and learning; teachers negotiate with the students about how to work together in the classroom and sometimes the students can make the final decision'. Several conditions of participation are recognised here: the sharing of relevant knowledge among the parties involved; the educational care of pupils on the part of the teacher; equal respect assumed by negotiating the joint activity; and learning how to take responsibility for the decisions in the process and for the process itself by both students and teachers.

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