Draft civics national curriculum will shape activism

3 May 2013

New changes in the draft Australian civics curriculum will help curb youth disengagement with politics through greater emphasis on citizenship, according to the leader of the curriculum team.

Ahead of the release of the draft Civics and Citizenship Curriculum, part of the Australian Curriculum, for public consultation on Monday 6 May, Professor Murray Print says the draft encourages a new generation of politically active citizens by aligning democratic ideals with personal identity.

"What's particularly significant is that when you look at the document, you'll find there's quite a bit included about citizenship, whereas the previous curriculum focused more on civics. This version has a lot more emphasis on citizenship and about identity," Print says.

"We hope to encourage a whole range of liberal democratic values in students that are sustainable beyond the years of schooling, so that students don't just learn something at school, pocket it away at the back of their minds and forget about it, but will actually see this as a way that they function and operate as adults.

"This curriculum will be seen and hopefully used as a mechanism to build young people's engagement with politics across their lifetime."

Professor Print is leading the Civics and Citizenship Curriculum Group, the body charged with writing the civics and citizenship education component of the Australian Curriculum. This draft curriculum was developed based on feedback from a shape paper released in July last year.

He believes a national approach to civics and citizenship education will also help students manage the potential pressures arising from Australia's rapidly changing migration mix.

"This is a curriculum that's going to address issues about what it means to be Australian, and that of course is a moving feast," Professor Print says. "One of the essentials is the notion of flexibility - Australians are going to have to be flexible.

"If you put it in the context of modern society, particularly a highly migrant society, and a society which internationally has a lot of tensions, then I think this curriculum has a very significant role to play in forging Australia for the future."

Print says the draft curriculum incorporates public suggestions for a deeper focus on Australia's traditional democratic heritage.

"The first thing we're trying to achieve in the curriculum is to get Australians to understand their political system. At a time when personalities have become overly dominant in Australia, understanding the political system and how it works has an enormous argument in its favour.

"This is something new and exciting that's never happened before, because it's on a national scale. There's been a large widespread consultation and there's been widespread agreement about what we need to cover."

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) will release the draft Civics and Citizenship national curriculum on their website on Monday 6 May.

Contact: Emily Jones

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