Disaffection and student teachers;Letter

7th May 1999 at 01:00
YOUR report of my study of the social and political attitudes of students (TES, April 16) highlights my concern about the presence of racist attitudes among even a small minority of entrants to the teaching profession.

However, I feel that it is important to point out that my research also found that the vast majority of students questioned were extremely positive in their views of citizenship education, and felt that educating "young citizens" to live harmoniously in a diverse society was central to the teacher's role.

Perhaps the most significant feature of my findings was the very high level of political disengagement and cynicism among student-teachers.

The advisory group on education for citizenship was briefed to address this democratic deficit, and its report includes some timely recommendations for teacher education providers. However, it fails to acknowledge the difficulties that these providers will have in taking on these recommendations in addition to the immense task of delivering the national standards for Qualified Teacher Status.

The ball is now clearly in the court of the Teacher Training Agency for it must ensure that the national curriculum for initial teacher training is amended to significantly raise the profile of citizenship education.

Citizenship education cannot be prescriptive, but must be based on a critical, reflective stance beginning in teacher education institutions.

Chris Wilkins

Faculty of education and community studies

University of Reading

Reading, Berks

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