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What has happened in the teaching of politics in schools in England in the last three decades, and why?

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Publication details

JournalOxford Review of Education
DatePublished - 1999
Issue number1-2
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)125-140
Original languageEnglish


During the last three decades there have been very different approaches to political learning bz schools in England. Very generally, prior to the 1960s, if anything was done explicitly, there was a concentration on learning facts about the British constitution. The late 1960s and into the 1970s saw a 'burgeoning of interest' (Heater) ill political Education characterised by attention to skills within a broader definition of politics than had been used in British Constitution courses. The 1980s saw the birth or, in some cases, redevelopment, of a whole raft of adjectival educations concerned with peace, development, the environment, 'race', in a way that was more holistic and affective than earlier initiatives. The current period has been described as 'the decade of the citizen' (Dahrendorf), which for most of the 1990s seems to have meant some attempt at learning about responsibilities within a framework, of officially sanctioned values, and opportunities to undertake voluntary action in the local community. Very recent developments shift education for citizenship into more enlightened waters but there may be little cause for optimism that widespread implementation will occur. The reasons for such shifts are discussed and trends and consequences (actual and likely) are explored.

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