Promoting Active Citizenship
Cultivating active, informed, critical, reflexive and engaged citizenship is a condition for a living and viable democracy.
Viability means, among others, an inclusive, sustainable society by bringing diverse groups (ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) together in developmental, dialogical and participatory ways.
Educational institutions of all kinds have a responsibility for ensuring and fostering these ideas and practices - this at a time of many new examples of people learning to live together creatively. as well as coping with new challenges of living together (xenophobia, racism, violence, political alienation and the rise of fundamentalism and are struggling with questions about multiculturalism, etc.).
These competencies are vital with students in teachers preperation if they are to create a good enough learning environment for their own pupils, teach active citizenship, and become active citizens themselves.
UNIT 9: Civil disobedience - The Role of Educators in Prevention and Intervention of moral reasoning and civic action
Civil disobedience - The Role of Educators in Prevention and Intervention of moral reasoning and civic action
1. Rational and objectives
Civic engagement can consist in civil disobedience. Questioning existing laws and regulations is a crucial task in a functioning democracy, and a functioning democracy must be able to deal with this questioning. However, according to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King (the main thinkers about civil disobedience) and others, civil disobedience can be ethically justified only under the following conditions:
a) A thorough moral-ethical justification: To what degree is this law or rule unjust? It is important that it is not only unjust to me personally (i.e., I feel treated unjust), but that the lack of justice is in some way general, that is that several people are concerned. It is advisable, therefore, to consult other competent people and to justify the decision for them before acting – however, in some cases there is no time for this.
b) Violence must be avoided if ever possible. There are situations in which the protagonist has to decide on actions that may involve violence (e.g., destroying an airplane that threatens to fall on a football stadium full of people).
c) In most cases it is also required not to flee from the legal consequences of the disobedience, e.g., to admit to have done so, to stand trial and, in case of conviction, to accept the sentence. However, if the laws governing the court are unjust in themselves (e.g., death penalty for opposition), one cannot require the protagonist to stand trial. It must be underlined, though, that deliberate acceptance of the sentence does not mean accepting the law. Gandhi and Martin Luther King went to jail although they did not support the underlying laws.
2. Learning outcomes
· Knowledge about the possibility and of practical examples of civil disobedience;
· Sensitizing about issues of civil disobedience, including sensitivity when civil disobedience is a possibility (see the statement of Hannah Arendt above) or even a duty (see the statement of Martin Luther King above);
· Acquiring competence to argue about civil disobedience situations (informed moral decision-making) with reference to appropriate values at stake for and against either option (civil disobedience yes or no) at least for concrete (personalized) situations, if not in general;
· Knowledge and competence to apply appropriately the three principles a to c above, including recognizing when civil disobedience is inappropriate (rule a), what issues need to be taken into account when deciding to practice civil disobedience (rule b) and what the consequences have to be faced in the case of civil disobedience (rule c);
· Understanding the position of someone of different opinion with respect to agreeing or disagreeing with civil disobedience in the specific situation (empathy while possibly still disagreeing);
· Understanding the role of civil disobedience in a democratic society (see the statement of Rawls above) and that civil disobedience might be necessary;
Activity 1: Look at this short video clip on Civil disobedience: Thoreau and Civil Disobedience :
"It is better to have your head in the clouds and know where you are, than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them and think that you're in paradise."
Divide into groups with one group arguing for this quote and the other against this quote.
Then they need to choose again and explain why they chose that position
Categorize the different types of civil obedience and disobedience
- Have the students discuss their opinion about civil disobedience and under what situations and conditions would they be willing to be civilly disobedient?
Talk: Matt Damon on Civil Disobedience:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Speech
Civil Disobedience and obeying Just vs. Unjust laws :
Students should find original texts from Thoreau, Gandi and Martin Luther King and present two ideas from each which they agree with and which they do not agree with.
Recommended reading for the VaLe and Dilemma-Based Learning Models:
- · Patry, J.-L., Reichman, R. G., & Linortner, L. (2017). Values and Knowledge Education (VaKE) for Lifelong Learning in Applied Fields: Principles and General Issues. In H. E. Vidergor & O. Sela (Eds.), Innovative Teaching Strategies and Methods Promoting Lifelong Learning in Higher Education: From Theory to Practice (pp. 187-213). New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
- Patry, J.-L., Weinberger, A., Weyringer, S., & Nussbaumer, M. (2013). Combining values and knowledge education. In B. J. Irby, G. Brown, R. Lara-Alecio & S. Jackson (Eds.) and R. A. Robles-Piña (Sect. Ed.), The handbook of educational theories (565-579). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.