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Reflections on citizenship education in Australia, Canada and England

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Publication details

JournalComparative Education
DatePublished - Nov 2005
Issue number4
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)389-410
Original languageEnglish


In this article we describe the background to the recent development of citizenship education in Australia, Canada and England and then, following an account of our methods, discuss issues arising from an analysis of a sample of textbooks from these countries. We suggest that the current policies to introduce versions of citizenship education have emerged in these countries in the context of diverse challenges to the legitimacy of the nation state. We argue, generally, that all three countries tend, in the textbooks we have examined, to emphasize forms of citizenship education that may submerge citizen empowerment under essentially orthodox agendas. We see differences in textbooks between and within the three countries but argue that, despite many exceptions, we are able to characterize textbooks in Ontario, Canada as education in civics (provision of information about formal public institutions), those in England as education for citizenship (a broad- based promotion of socially useful qualities) and those in Australia as social studies (societal understanding that emerges from the development of critical thinking skills related to existing academic subjects such as history and English).

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