The most common example of citizenship that I remember from my K-12 schooling was the personally-responsible level of citizenship as well as the participatory level. During elementary school we would help those in need by doing things like food drives and brining in monetary donations. We also organized a Christmas toy store by donating gently used toys and creating a store throughout the school for people to come and choose toys to give to their family that they couldn’t afford on their own. We also possessed desirable qualities of a citizen through practicing our faith and participating in things like reconciliation. However, when we participated in these activities, we did not think of it as a level of citizenship we just thought it was something we had to do while we were in school and didn’t think we would have to participate in these things after our time in school.
The participatory level of citizenship was most prevalent in my high school years. At my high school we had to complete ten hours of community service for our Christian ethics class every year. We played an active role in community organizations by volunteering at places like the food bank, senior homes, or elementary schools. We also volunteered to plan and participate in movement activities at senior homes during some of the physical education classes. What lacked during our experiences in the community was our knowledge of strategies and skills. We did not think about decision making and problem solving for things in our community we just went out and did our service and didn’t think about it after we completed it.
My schooling did not focus on creating justice-oriented citizens. My only experience with justice was through my law class in grade twelve, but we did not take action in the class to improve our society we just learned about it.
This approach to curriculum made it possible for me to experience volunteering in my community, but it didn’t teach me about my roles as a citizen or the importance of why I should do it. I felt that I had to engage in all these activities because it was a requirement and not something that really connected with me. I believe when we teach students about citizenship, they need to know that’s what they’re learning about, rather than having students participate in activities without providing meaning and why it’s important. Student’s need to recognize the importance of citizenship and how what they learn in school should continue with them as they become a mature citizen in the real world.