In the 18th century the Anglo-Irish philosopher, Bishop George Berkeley, said that ‘He who has not considered the Good Life, may make a thriving earth worm… …but a very sorry patriot…’.
In 1917, the American philosopher, James Dewey, promoted Enlightenment values by arguing in his classic Democracy and Education that the ‘social’ became the ‘moral’ when social actors were taught to evaluate the influence of their behaviour on other people.
In 1936, the so-called ‘green’ Curriculum for Western Australian Schools recognised that ‘active citizenship’ is the culmination and expression of a social and moral education.
As a society we have taken some steps towards providing a worthy education for our children and the maintenance of our society but we still have to implement the changes from the 1990s relating to citizenship education. We do have the necessary pieces. However, we need the will to put them together. This investigation has identified the possibilities and the following assessments suggest how we might move forward:
· If the community wants civics and citizenship education to be taught and taught effectively, then a compulsory core unit, combining essential content and appropriate professional strategies, must be included in preservice teacher education for intending teachers at all levels. Graduates without such a unit should not be employed after a set date.
· The importance of knowledge about the development and nature of the State and civil society should be recognised. Students can be enthused by sound teaching by teachers well qualified in relevant subject matter and with appropriate professional skills.
· Active citizenship behavioural outcomes can be achieved by the development of self-governing voluntary associations within schools of teacher education and in primary and secondary schools, and when appropriate linked to and supported by existing associations in the wider community.
· Teaching has to be seen as a partnership with the family in the maintenance and development of community and society. Individuality and individual rights and responsibilities can only be developed when the full nature of society and culture are appreciated and incorporated into the processes of schooling.
· Schools of teacher education must prepare teachers to work with the monitoring role of the WA Curriculum Council and to work for and with the school councils to ensure that we have a truly public schooling system encompassing the current divisions between State and private schools.
· More research and documentation needs to be undertaken into the large range of non-governmental and voluntary associations, clubs and societies and their members which together constitute the civil society and provide the rich texture of social and cultural citizenship of Australia.