Connecting with Communities
Civics and citizenship is an integral part of school curriculum. It also provides opportunities for teachers and students to connect and work with the wider community.
Forms of Civic and Citizenship participation
Participation in experiential learning, or learning that has ‘real world outcomes’, is the key to ensuring that students’ learning is relevant, and it has the added benefit of increasing student motivation to learn. While teachers and school curriculums seek to provide these opportunities in formal settings in schools, there are many other ways in which students, with the help and guidance of their parents, may participate beyond the school. Examples include:
- volunteering in the local community
- developing an interest in a local, national or international issues
- making links between the school and community and non-government organisations
- attending events/exhibitions at key cultural institutions
Volunteering in the local community
Participating in the local community through volunteering is an immediate way for students to express their responsibility for their communities, to get to know the issues and problems that confront members of their communities and to assist in overcoming them, and to acquire the skills that are required of an active citizen. Volunteering to work in local organizations or community groups can be very rewarding. Opportunities to volunteer may include:
- working with community organisation such as retirement homes or young people’s organisations
- working with local historical societies
- participating in local environmental projects
- peer tutoring
- fundraising for local community networks or disadvantaged groups.
Developing an interest in a local, national, regional or international issues
Active citizenship includes knowing your responsibilities within civic life, and being prepared to learn about key issues impacting on society and, where possible, participating in strategies to resolve these issues. In an inter-connected world, these issues may be local, national, regional or international. The 2004 Tsunami saw many schools and students participating in fundraising to support schools and families in stricken India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia. Many have ongoing connections with schools in these regions.
There are a number of excellent websites providing opportunities for students to be engaged in local, national, regional and international issues. These include:
Making links between the school and non-government organisations
Once students have engaged in learning about key issues impacting on society, there are a number of non-government organisations that act as conduits for students to respond to ongoing societal issues.
Schools can ask organisations to provide speakers to assist students with planning their involvement. Parents with appropriate knowledge may be able to assist with the process of organising a speaker.
Useful websites include:
Attending events/exhibitions at important cultural institutions
Experiential learning, such as visiting Parliament, attending historical memorial days and taking part in key cultural celebrations, provides depth and colour to the meaning of ‘democracy at work’. Parents can provide a vital role assisting teachers who wish to organise class excursions that focus on an aspect of active citizenship. The following websites provide information about possible excursions:
Parents wishing to support any of the above mentioned Civics and Citizenship activities can obtain further information from members of their child’s school administration team.