For many of us, Citizenship is a unit. It is October, my grade 4 students need to understand how the government works.  In November, we move on, and they are not “Citizens.” Many of us genuinely believe schools should teach student how to get along, be informed, knowledgeable about society, and be understanding and caring. We just don’t know how to teach it.

What is Citizenship Education?

Citizenship Education is much more than just civics and knowing the capital cities. It is about the way students treat each other and the way societies and governments work together. Citizenship Education empowers students to understand about and deal with levels of government. It invites students to have courageous conversations about issues that matter to them.  Truth and Reconciliation is deeply linked to citizenship. How much stronger could our society be if teachers like us taught students to think about their responsibilities as citizens every day in every classroom?

What are the key concepts I am teaching?

There are 5 Essential Citizenship Competencies – think of these as key understandings.

Citizens are:

  • Empathetic – Students know there are other points of view on the same topic and care about the views of others
  • Empowered – Students know how to advocate for themselves and others
  • Enlightened – Students know how governments work and who to contact to advocate for change
  • Ethical – Students care about the relationships with other people and know their decisions have far reaching implications
  • Engaged – Students know that they belong and need to contribute to society

How do you do this with younger students? What would I talk about with middle years students? View the competency chart to see what ideas your students might discuss at your grade level.

How can I get help?

Concentus Citizenship Education Foundation has a variety of free materials for grades K-12 in both French and English.  There are plans for teachers, links, sample materials, and handouts that you can use. Check them out. Tell us what you think.