Citizenship education in Irish secondary schools: the influence of curriculum content, school culture and stakeholder perspectives

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Duggan, Paddy
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University College Cork
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This research interrogates the status of citizenship education in Irish secondary schools. The following questions are examined: How does school culture impact on citizenship education? What value is accorded to the subjects, Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)? To what extent are the subjects of both the cognitive and non-cognitive curricula affirmed? The importance of these factors in supporting the social, ethical, personal, political and emotional development of students is explored. The concept of citizenship is dynamic and constantly evolving in response to societal change. Society is increasingly concerned with issues such as: globalisation; cosmopolitanism; the threat of global risk; environment sustainability; socio-economic inequality; and recognition/misrecognition of new identities and group rights. The pedagogical philosophy of Paulo Freire which seeks to educate for the conscientisation and humanisation of the student is central to this research. Using a mixed methods approach, data on the insights of students, parents, teachers and school Principals was collected. In relation to Irish secondary school education, the study reached three main conclusions. (1) The educational stakeholders rate the subjects of the non-cognitive curriculum poorly. (2) The subjects Civic, Social and Political education (CSPE), and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) command a low status in the secondary school setting. (3) The day-to-day school climate is influenced by an educational philosophy that is instrumentalist in character. Elements of school culture such as: the ethic of care; the informal curriculum; education for life after school; and affirmation of teachers, are not sufficiently prioritised in supporting education for citizenship. The research concludes that the approach to education for citizenship needs to be more robust within the overall curriculum, and culture and ethos of the Irish education system.
Irish secondary schools , Citizenship education , Stakeholder perspectives , School culture , Curriculum content
Duggan, P. 2015. Citizenship education in Irish secondary schools: the influence of curriculum content, school culture and stakeholder perspectives. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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