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Author(s): Torben Spanget Christensen

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

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: SOCIAL STUDIES | CIVICS | DIDACTICS OF SUBJECT MATTERS | POSTMODERN | CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION | COMPETENCES IN SOCIAL STUDIES | SAMFUNDSFAG | DEMOKRATISK DANNELSE

ABSTRACT
Abstract: This article is about social studies (civics) as a school subject in Danish secondary and upper secondary school, especially with focus on what the subject contributes to the students in terms of development of citizenship (democratic Bildung) and in terms of general preparation for college and university studies. The subject curriculum show clear signs of a postmodern identity. The term postmodern refer to a globalized society challenging the absolute authority of the state. The state is under pressure of two interconnected and partly conflicting tendencies, namely globalization and individualization, leading to problems of state governance that cannot be solved in the traditional way, by strengthening the state and citizen loyalty. On the contrary, the situation calls for a high level of self governing on the part of the citizens and a high level of cooperation in the international society between states and between citizens in NGO’s. This sets a new task to social studies. The presented analysis of the social studies curriculum demonstrate how postmodern features are evident by the priority given to aims of student self governance and student self reflection opposed to a more traditional aim of loyalty to the state, by the implicit status given to democratic norms and democratic behavior opposed to explicit pointing out the right democratic norms and behavior, and by the emphasis on inductive methods opposed to deductive methods. It is argued that the postmodern identity of the social studies subject can be traced back to the early 1960’ties and even further back to anti authoritarian reactions to Fascism and Nazism in the 1930’ties and the 1940’ties. A comparison of two important textbooks (1917 and 1945) show how social studies changes focus from a legal to a sociological focus comprising postmodern features. It is further showed how these postmodern features develop in the social studies subject from the 1950’ties till today’s curriculum.It is concluded that the most important general aims (citizenship/ general bildung)of today’s social studies subject is to develop the students ability to connect social science knowledge on one side with societal development and own possibilities to act on a democratic basis in society, ability of self governance and ability of normative reflection. In addition the higher (optional) levels of subject gives a social science based preparation for college and university studies.
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