Cynthia Jones argues that active internationalism is an essential part of CPD for citizenship

The publication of The Crick Report in 1998 focused attention on the need to consider the active teaching of issues associated with national and international citizenship. What had seemed, at one time, to be a clear set of ideas about ‘being a citizen’ had become a synthesis of different and often conflicting ideas, values and beliefs. The uncertainty attending this state of affairs contributed to the growing ambiguity, disengagement and often disaffection felt by many young people. The situation required vigorous action.

Unsurprisingly, Bernard Crick’s report attracted diverse responses from educationalists. The notion of formalised citizenship education was variously seen as:

  • ‘one more thing’ added to a complex and heavy work-load
  • an opportunity to contribute to citizenship through academic disciplines
  • a recognition that personal understandings of society were equally as important as political understandings.

The Crick Report indicated that an interactive approach was important for the implementation of a citizen curriculum which would bring together the ‘academic’ and the ‘personal’. So discussion as to what constituted an appropriate curriculum became an issue not only in terms of what students learned, but also for teachers’ professional development.

Teachers’ professional development has ranged from the provision of structured formalised courses undertaken in higher education establishments to twilight in-house school sessions. Two key elements that permeate these CPD pathways are: consideration of the balance between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ in citizenship education; and the nature of the ‘value-added’ element for teachers undertaking such professional development activity.

With regard to ‘theory’ and ‘practice’, a delicate balance is required between understandings of society (often delivered through the teaching of humanities) and those of self-awareness and social responsibilities (largely, historically, the province of the PSHE tutor). Not all teachers feel confident in these two ‘strands’, but both are critical in the articulation of citizenship education and its teaching and learning.

The ‘value-added’ aspect of CPD in citizenship can be intangible. Many teachers gain valuable insights from networking with colleagues and hearing how citizenship is practised in different schools across the UK. This can be especially rewarding when teachers of different nationalities exchange ideas and when those who work in multi-ethnic schools are brought together.

Tangible expressions come through CPD undertaken in higher education institutions. This sort of professional development work is increasingly being used as the basis for elaboration and reflection in an academic context. CPD programmes can then lead to the gaining of a ‘credit’ against national standards. Credits can, in turn, contribute to the gaining of advanced qualifications and enhanced career progression. Certification offers another CPD opportunity.

Active internationalism
Rapid technological change, increased social and occupational mobility and the globalising economy have brought the promotion of international citizenship into focus. The question of how the notion of ‘whole-worldness’ can be embedded in the curriculum so that it can be embraced meaningfully by the world citizens of tomorrow makes active internationalism an important issue to investigate through CPD.

Approaches through theory and practice
Active internationalism be can approached through ‘theory’ by exploring the following issues in national, regional and global contexts:

  • Personal understandings of ‘being a citizen’ – examining definitions, problems and practices, issues of values and attitudes, and the role of the self
  • The practices of citizenship – learning about social structures and the legal requirements of citizenship
  • Multi-culturalism and citizenship – analysing what it means to be a member of a multi-ethnic community and the implications for personal and social behaviours
  • Identity and social categorisation – interrogating issues associated with group belonging and the judgements that allow individuals to ‘judge’ others as ‘us’ or ‘them’
  • Cultural heritage and cultural values – understanding the relevance of culture to perceptions of national citizenship and active internationalism.

Whilst these issues can provide a theoretical framework for all curriculum disciplines to support the study of citizenship, the involvement of outside agencies and personnel can influence ‘practice’. They can put ‘flesh on the bones’ by updating CPD participants and supplementing their experiences.

Local and regional agencies for multi-racial and multi-cultural support are the most obvious examples, but other groupings and non-governmental organisations can also have a part to play. Britain’s re-entry to UNESCO in 2004-05 now makes it possible for schools to engage with ASPnet (Associated Schools Project Network). This allows students to become actively engaged in citizenship at national and international levels. Also, personnel from Voluntary Service Overseas, the Council for Education in World Citizenship, the Association for Citizenship Education and the Council for Racial Equality (to cite a few examples) can offer either face-to-face or e-mail support for students and teachers to enhance individual experiences of citizenship in national and international contexts.

Understandings of the organisations and agencies that engage with the ideas of citizenship at national and international levels can also be gained through simulations and problem-based projects. Examples of these include simulations such as the Model United Nations General Assembly (MUNGA), as well as project- and game-based working.

Making the connection
If a sense of ‘whole-worldness’ is to be achieved, and participation in affiliations beyond national frontiers to become part of everyday life, the challenge for citizenship teachers is to connect ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ so as to make internationalism a meaningful reality for today’s young people.

Cynthia Jones is head of Inset/CPD at the School of Education, Kingston University