Fostering active citizenship through the New Zealand social studies curriculum: Teachers' perceptions and practices of social action

Wood, Bronwyn E.; Taylor, Rowena M.; Atkins, Rose A.
July 2013
New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies;2013, Vol. 48 Issue 2, p84
Academic Journal
Creating 'active' citizens has been a key objective of successive social studies curricula in New Zealand. The current national curriculum continues to reinforce this goal by stating that students will "participate and take social action as critical, responsible and informed citizens" (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 17). However, very little is known about how teachers interpret and implement this aspect of the curriculum. In this paper we review historical representations of social action in social studies curricula and report on two empirical studies which examined teachers' perceptions and practices of social action. Analysing these studies through a critical citizenship framework, we evaluate the degree to which these perceptions and practices could be considered transformative or social justiceoriented. We reflect upon the opportunities and challenges that teachers face when implementing social action in contemporary secondary school contexts and draw attention to issues of empathy, empowerment and indoctrination which were highlighted by social studies teachers.


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