Let's Ask the Kids! - Practising Citizenship and Democracy in Australian Schools

Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association (ANZELA)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Law and Education, 2011, 16 (2), pp. 73 - 91
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LetS ask the kids-yeah right! The focus of this article is a research project being undertaken in Australia which considers participative and restorative practices in New South Wales schools. Jt looks at the research inspiring this project which points to the part democratic principles may play in the engagement of children and young people in their schools and their education, and the development of citizenship principles which they take outside their school gates. This research considers the meaningful participation of children and young people in decision making in schools: its implementation, and its effectiveness and impact on school communities. Citizenship and democracy are about relationships, participation, rights and responsibility. In Australia and New Zealand, and comparative jurisdictions, the debate concerning the teaching of citizenship in schools has traditionally been centred on the extent to which civics education should be included in the school curriculum. In recent years the debate has widened to a more holistic view of citizenship or democracy in schools, from the restrictive approach of classroom learning only, to embrace teaching by practice and example within the school structure. Schools have a unique opportunity not only to teach democratic principles and values but also to reinforce and demonstrate that teaching by their practices and procedures. The model presented by a school provides a crucial template for the value system which students live by for the rest of their lives.
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