The effective implementation of the new Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship in schools and classrooms requires a whole-school approach whereby students are given the opportunity to become actively and democratically involved at a classroom, school and community level within meaningful and relevant contexts. Tudball (2010) asserts that development of the skills, knowledge and understandings associated with Civics and Citizenship Education (CCE) is most effective when embedded within a school’s ethos, culture, environment, program and policies. For example, students have the opportunity to have a genuine voice in the defining a school’s vision, beliefs and values through participation in student representative groups such as junior school council (Tudball, 2010).
Pedagogical strategies and classroom practices are important in developing the skills of communication, collaboration, flexibility, creativity and reflective thinking (Reynolds, 2012). A classroom environment that promotes human rights as a basis for all classroom interactions facilitates trust among teachers and students, therefore providing foundation upon which students can develop and clarify their own values (Tudball & Gordon, 2014). Marsh and Hart (2011) assert that teaching and learning of Civics and Citizenship Education occurs best within a classroom environment that promotes a collaborative and cooperative approach. Knowledge and values are personally constructed through an inquiry-based process where students work and learn with their peers to resolve authentic issues relevant to the school or local community, for example; management of school wetlands area (Reynolds, 2012). The opportunity to participate in simulations of the democratic process, for example, debates, class and school elections enables students to understand, appreciate and tolerate differences (Reynolds, 2012).
The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship (Australian Curriculum, Assessment & Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2012) document emphasises the value of students participating in experiences external to the school, for example Clean Up Australia Day, in connecting their learning to relevant societal issues. Establishing collaborative partnerships with other schools, community groups or local businesses enable students to learn citizenship and connect with local issues through authentic and purposeful experiences (Tudball & Gordon, 2014). Allowing Civics and Citizenship Education to assume a pivotal role in the school curriculum will therefore underpin a school culture and environment that promotes inclusiveness, diversity and tolerance (Marsh & Hart, 2011). The formal release of the Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship document will establish explicit goals and expectations for teaching and learning. However, Civics and Citizenship Education may be taught explicitly as a stand-alone subject or integrated through other learning areas, particularly with history, geography, business and economics (Tudball & Gordon, 2014). For example, students develop a sense of stewardship and work towards becoming active and informed citizens through participating in Education for Sustainability programs (Cutter-Mackenzie & Hoepper, 2014).
In conclusion, the effective implementation of the new Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship in schools and classrooms may be achieved through providing students with authentic learning experiences within an inquiry-based, collaborative, respectful and inclusive learning environment. The use of pedagogical strategies relevant to Civics and Citizenship Education enable students to actively construct their own learning through social discourse. Participation in activities such as role plays and simulations promote the values of democracy, personal values, social justice and independence. Finally, establishing student learning that connect with experiences beyond the classroom will contribute toward the development of active and informed citizens (ACARA, 2012).
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2012). The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum__Civics_and_Citizenship_251012.pdf
Civics & Citizenship [Image 1]. (2013) Retrieved from http://tta.edu.au/occurrences?learningAreaId=28
Civics & Citizenship [Image 2]. (2011) Retrieved from http://nirmukta.com/2011/11/17/superstitions-and-human-rights-a-talk-in-mangalore/
Cutter-Mackenzie, A. & Hoepper, B. (2014). Teaching for active and informed citizenship. In R. Gilbert & B. Hoepper (Eds.). Teaching humanities and social sciences: history, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th Ed.) (pp. 390-418). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.
Marsh, C. & Hart, C. (2011). Civics and citizenship. In K. Kennedy (Ed.) Teaching the social sciences and humanities in an Australian curriculum. (pp. 333-355). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.
Reynolds, R. (2012). Teaching history, geography & SOSE in the primary school (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press
Tudball, L. (2010). Putting civics and citizenship education back on the education agenda: responding to global imperatives and learning from international research. Social Educator, 28(3), 17-24.
Tudball, L. & Gordon, K. (2014). Teaching for active and informed citizenship. In R. Gilbert & B. Hoepper (Eds.). Teaching humanities and social sciences: history, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th Ed.) (pp. 297-320). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.