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But Who Champion’s Citizenship?

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I just received another press release from a media relations firm, hoping that I will blog about the topic. More times than not, on the occasions that I do blog about it, the firm and their client can’t be happy.  This one led with, “CEOs tell governors to strength(en) math, science education standards.”

It comes from an organization called Change the Equation, a nonprofit devoted to improving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) education in the United States. The organization was founded by Craig Barret (Intel CEO), Glenn Britt (Time Warner Cable CEO), Ursula Burns (Xerox CEO), Antonio Perez (Eastman Kodak CEO) and Sally Ride (Sally Ride Science CEO). The list of corporate members is impressive by any measure. I counted 76 of them.

I commend Change the Equation for its vision, probable funding and guidance.

But who’s championing citizenship?

Who’s putting mega-bucks and weighty influence behind education that prepares learners for civic responsibility, community awareness and the ability to artistically and passionately express oneself, and appreciate the expressions of others?

Who’s backing, with loud voices, an education that leads not only to successful industry, but also to successful and fulfilling home lives?

Who’s being listened to, as they demand education that leads to a democracy based on truth, knowledge and logic, and not emotional energy generated by fear?


  • http://www.downes.ca Stephen Downes

    There should be no apostraphe in “champions” (I would have emailed a correction but couldn’t find an address).

  • http://www.jarche.com/ Harold Jarche

    And who is championing critical thinking? Nobody, because it puts the whole hierarchy in question.

  • http://www.practicaltheory.org Chris Lehmann

    Well, I’ve been trying to for a while now. :)

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  • http://ddeubel.edublogs.org David

    Keep cheerleading along these lines David!

    I’ve been convinced that we don’t need reform in education – we need purpose. Postman suggested as much years ago and since then, the rot has set in. There really is no center around which everything else holds.

    I came around to the same notion of “creating a citizen” through my own immersion in Korean education and their concept and curriculum objective of “hongik Ingang” but also through thinking about how technology now fosters connection. Dewey, I have in my heart but his ideas didn’t really hit me so much until thinking about how school should be a place where students can connect with those around the world and bring them into a wider notion of what it means to be “a citizen of the world” and have nothing foreign to them.

    Let’s hope leaders in education start promoting this purpose. Not as morality but as making sane, humane, kind, happy people or “citizens” that contribute and don’t just consume and take.

    I’m championing this, in my own way. Let’s all “cultivez notre jardin”.

    Thanks for the post.


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  • Kelle Campbell

    Thanks for this post! I believe that civic and character education is absolutely necessary for an ethical and well-adjusted capitalist society, indeed any free society. (Additionally, people need to be educated on the true tenets of capitalism since there’s a tendency to equate the concept with with the blind pursuit of short-term gains.) But citizenship and character is the foundation!

  • http://khdphd.blogspot.com Karen H. Dolnick, PhD

    We all seem to be on the same page about these two topics. It has been so long since citizenship and character development was taught in schools that even the parents of our students never learned these subjects in school.
    Perhaps it is time for someone to invent a really exciting interactive game where the only way players can win is to be good citizens who are of exemplary character. That might be a good place to start. What do you folks think?

    • http://www.adriennemichetti.com/blog Adrienne Michetti

      Karen, are you familiar with Quest Atlantis? http://atlantis.crlt.indiana.edu/

      If not, you might be interested to know that what you’ve described is exactly what this team has developed. It’s doing quite well, though schools in Asia and Australia have been more involved than schools stateside, I believe.

      (And no, I have no affiliation with them whatsoever – I just know of them via my research in learning sciences and technology. :) )

  • http://weathertation.posterous.com Jim Peterson

    What is the purpose of education? To help discover who we are and then express that positively and effectively with everyone around us.

  • http://www.resourceroom.net Sue J

    I, too, was a little thrown by the misplaced apostrophe. Who’s going to champion communication?

    I do perceive that it’s time to examine just how much overt selfishness and, at best, self-centeredness is encouraged and imbued in our schools. How do we motivate students? There really is nothing like working together to do something good, as opposed to working together to see who can look the best and, oh, get the most votes in an online contest.

  • http://spicher.weebly.com/ Doug Spicher

    Education, like other endeavors should begin with the end in mind…a vision if you will. In education, we have a lack of vision as we serve too many masters…parents, state standards, federal standards, industrial ideals…what I feel we need is a direction that will allow kids to think critically, work together and then act independently. We need to give kids purpose in their learning and an endpoint. If we do these things, the citizenship should follow.

  • Lynn Rambo

    Amen! As a social studies teacher who certainly doesn’t begrudge the increased attention in the STEM areas, I can’t help but wonder how much stronger our U.S. curriculum would be as a whole with more of the “glue” that the social studies, including citizenship ed, might provide. The connections to real life and both American and global values made possible through the social studies helps kids derive personal meaning from ALL academic experiences.

  • http://evanskellyedm310.blogspot.com/ Kelly Evans

    Mr. Warlick,

    I have completed and posted my summary and thoughts about your last 2 posts on my blog. I have enjoyed reading your posts! They were interesting and thought provoking. For this particular post, I agree, if educators change their views on what the standards of education should be about then we have the capability to produce a society of well rounded, civic minded individuals.

    Kindest regards,
    Kelly Evans


    In your article But Who Champion’s Citizenship? I believe that those duties are left for society. I don’t know if I am answering your question correctly but I feel like the answer to what I think you are asking is that certain life skills are taught not by those who teach us things that we learn in the classroom, but by those who are along the eternal link of generations and generations. People rely on what they were taught by their parents when they are cleaning a house or doing chores. Those skills are not taught by organizations like STEM. It is one of the rare few actions preserved by the simplicity of knowledge that is past on from parent to child. It is not a classroom taught topic. For though classrooms are the places at which complex knowledge is obtained, the only place to learn fundamental knowlege is outside the school on the street, in the home, or at a workplace. Certain things cannot be taught in classrooms. Self-expression, community awarness, etc. are things that the world alone can teach.

Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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