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Being Engaged and Knowledgeable: Social Science Thinking Concepts and Students’ Civic Engagement in Teaching on Globalisation

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Author(s): Johan Sandahl

Journal: Nordidactica : Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education
ISSN 2000-9879

Volume: 2013;
Issue: 2013:1;
Start page: 158;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: SOCIAL SCIENCE | CIVICS | CIVIC EDUCATION | CIVIC ENGAGEMENT | STAND-BY CITIZENS | DISCIPLINARY APPROACH | FIRST AND SECOND ORDER SOCIAL SCIENCE CONCEPTS | CRITICAL THINKING | GLOBALISATION TEACHING

ABSTRACT
The question of whether or not school makes a difference in preparing students for democratic citizenship has been debated for a long time in political science and curriculum studies. These discussions are mostly based on the results of international surveys measuring students’ political attitudes, values and participation. However, we first need to define what kind of prepared citizens are needed. This article takes on the definition issue and presents new perspectives by exploring how teachers in Social Science (Samhällskunskap) and their students in Sweden reason about engagement when they address complex societal issues such as globalisation. Based on interviews with a number of teachers and students I will argue that in order to understand what is going on in school we need to interpret Social Science teaching in terms of first- and second-order concepts, where the second-order concepts could be seen as “how to think like a social scientist”. I will make a case that there is a didactic dilemma for teachers trying to educate students who are both trained in disciplinary thinking and leave school as politically engaged. However, this dilemma is not unsolvable and I will hold a position that it might contain answers to some of the questions that political scientists deal with in terms of engagement.
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