Westheimer and Kahne researched citizenship education and how one’s concept of citizenship shapes their value as citizen. In order to do this, they clarified their three different definitions of citizen: the personally responsible citizen, the participatory citizen, and the justice oriented citizen. They seemed to believe that these are not three progressive levels of citizenship; instead, they suggest that they are completely different types of people. The example they give is this – the personally responsible citizen “contributes to the food drive”, the participatory citizen “helps to organize the food drive”, and the justice oriented citizen “explores why people are hungry and acts to solve the root problems” (Westheimer 27).
They made a few points that I agreed with, but I was surprised by the blurb at the end of the article that tells about the awards this piece received. For one thing, I didn’t think the experiment provided reliable data. The schools, time periods, and research questions were too different. Secondly, I don’t feel like the data is reliable because the conclusions cannot be based on the answers to questions that students give. The proof should be judging what kind of citizens the students grew up to be. I did think both methods of teaching citizenship seemed to be very effective! I like that the kids were engaged and that they felt like they contributed something. I would love to include some of these ideas in my own classroom.
How does digital citizenship differ from digital literacy? I think citizenship relates to responsible personal use of technology. I think literacy relates to fluency of technology use. We could learn a lesson about developing our own model of digital citizenship from these researchers if we focused on the justice oriented model. “Study and seek to change…” (17).
Westheimer, Joel, and Joseph Kahne. “What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy.” American Educational Research Journal, vol. 41, no. 2, 2004, pp. 237–269.