Role for the modern citizen

6th October 2000 at 01:00
THE launch of an Education for Citizenship consultation is a long overdue chance to discuss a curricular area of vital importance. Your editorial (Beyond blockades, TESS, September 22) asserted that citizenship is not a separate subject.

This is clearly true, but you forgot to mention the pivotal role one particular subject plays in developing political literacy, which is, after all, the root of real citizenship.

Recent research carried out at Strathclyde University shows that modern studies greatly enhances student knowledge and understanding of political events and issues. This simply confirms what the modern studies community has always known.

A consultation which seeks to clarify the role of formal education in equipping young people as citizens will only have real integrity if it concludes that modrn studies teaching is the foundation of effective citizenship education.

Other curricular areas have a clear contribution to make, but our students will only be able to withstand the huff and puff of complex social and political issues if their knowledge is strong. Without concrete knowledge their citizenship is, to stretch an analogy, made of straw.

Logistical problems (eg how to deal with S3-S6 when not all students opt for modern studies) can be overcome. It is essential that all Scottish schools have a modern studies department. Those who deny this conclusion overlook the fact that meaningful citizenship education is impossible without modern studies.

Gavin Clark

Principal teacher, modern studies

history, Dunbar Grammar School

Chair of the Modern Studies


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