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Pam Hook on citizenship: thinking and acting together

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Pam Hook talks about the possibilities of educating for citizenship in our schools.

Education consultant Pam Hook talked to teachers about how safe road use is a good contextual match for developing citizenship with students.

She was speaking at a professional development day hosted by the Greater Wellington Regional Council with support from the NZ Transport Agency.

Pam Hook.

Pam Hook

Pam describes citizenship education in part as an opportunity for collaboration and participation – young people thinking and acting together within contexts that matter.

“Students need a context in which they have a voice, they belong, they matter and they can make a difference,” she says.

Pam says young people of any age have extensive prior experience of road use to draw on during classroom learning. Plus, teachers can see young people as “bundles of strengths” - these being the capabilities and values they contribute to learning experiences.

Teaching and learning can move students through being personally responsible as citizens, towards being participatory citizens. See, for example, the paper by Westheimer and Kahne (2004): 

What kind of citizen? The politics of educating for democracy(external link)

Pam describes this view of citizenship education as:

  • taking a skilled and active role in groups that work for the common good
  • knowing effective strategies for collaborative action.

Doing school as if citizenship matters diagram.

“When young people work together with the support of their teacher and their local community, their voice is heard. They can see that they matter. Their attitudes towards the road can shift in a way that just talking to them won’t deliver.”

There is also scope in some learning experiences for students to operate as justice-orientated citizens, who identify where existing systems need to change in response to new perspectives or unmet needs.

Resources for teachers

Pam says curriculum resources published by the Transport Agency are designed to deepen students’ knowledge and experience of citizenship.

“We don’t just want surface understanding. We want deep understandings about citizenship on the road network.”

Teacher resources

Pam Hook paper: Transport as a context for encouraging skilled and active citizenship

Fact sheets: good practice in road safety

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