This project addresses the problems that are currently being encountered with regard to the delivery of citizenship and PHSE within UK schools. To give emergent themes context – an historical review of their academic treatment is presented. This is broadened by considering the United States delivery of these subjects to determine whether the UK can learn anything from the American experience.
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Documentary analysis and interview schedules are the research methods used to analyse secondary sources and generate primary data. A number of conclusions are drawn – namely these subjects must be linked to current issues (e.g. AIDS/HIV, global citizenship etc) of the day – to ensure that their content and delivery remain relevant to the needs of young people. Recommendations for a more flexible approach regarding the delivery and assessment of these subjects are made at the end of the study.
Before it is possible to critically review and evaluate th eeffectiveness of the learning and teaching methods that are used to deliver citizenship and PHSE, it is necessary to begin by analysing their rationale and curricular content. In other words what are these subjects about and what are the benefits that pupils gain by studying them? Answering this question will provide a framework within which it can be determined whethercurrent academic practices are satisfying the aims and objectives ofthese subjects.
Citizenship is a concept that can have a myriad of meanings andinterpretations. There is no universally agreed definition. Models of citizenship vary from country to country. The concept is continuously contested by political parties, academics and pressure groups. Despite the many interpretations of the concept that exist, all notions of citizenship imply to a greater or lesser degree, membership of apolitical community that is internally defined by rights, duties, participation and identity. The term “Active Citizenship” is widely used, but again there is no single accepted definition. The phrase is open to interpretation.
From an educational perspective when there is no universally accepteddefinition of a concept, it makes it extremely difficult to transform such a subject into a meaningful learning experience for young people. In other words there are no “hard and fast” rules which can be appliedby teachers. When a concept has a clear and universally accepteddefinition, it provides the means by which to breakdown the subject into manageable chunks of learning. Thus students become skilled and knowledgeable when applying each component to a given set of circumstances.
For example, in Business Studies, if you wish to measure the financialperformance of a company, it is possible to apply a number ofuniversally accepted accounting ratios. This forms a set of“standards”, which are quantifiable and which can be applied in a constant manner to a variety of different situations over a period of time.
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