Learning to Teach Citizenship in the Secondary School

Editor(s) Gearon, Liam
Publisher Routledge Falmer
Published 2002
Pages 285
ISBN 0415276748
Reviewed by Tony Rea
Westminster Institute of Education, Oxford Brookes University
Review published 1 December 2004

Perhaps it is inevitable that a book focussed on an end of millennium development in the English curriculum should be littered with acronyms. Chapter two of Learning to Teach Citizenship in the Secondary School has sixteen of them. We have the NCC metamorphosing first into SCAA and then QCA. HMCI reported to the DfEE, which became the DfES all of which impacted on LEAs. There are tensions, we are told, between citizenship, RE and PHSE. Then there are the TTA, SMSCD, ESD, NFER, PAL and GCSE. ITN is thrown in for good measure and I apologise if I have left out any.

That said, this is a fine introduction for trainee teachers looking into this curriculum area. There are links to the NQT standards throughout the chapters, whilst the book has good advice about securing a first appointment as a citizenship teacher and includes information about continuing professional development, including modular masters-level degrees. Gearon is Reader in Education at the University of Surrey and he edits the work of a strong and knowledgeable team including John Keast from QCA and David Kerr from the NFER. Other contributions are from staff based at the Citizenship Foundation, Institute for Citizenship and the UNESCO centre at the University of Ulster.

The book seeks to place the multi-cultural pastoral concept of British Citizenship into an international context whilst focussing on teaching and learning both inside and outside classrooms. John Keast's narrative of the development of National Curriculum citizenship and how it became a "single set of sensible suggestions", to quote the alliteration of Nick Tate, is informative for the trainee who feels a need to know the background to their citizenship studies. David Kerr (chapter1) raises questions of the importance of citizenship in modern society and asks what can be learnt from local, national and international contexts, concluding from the research base that "once (you) get beyond the differences in context and in curriculum and assessment frameworks, countries have much more in common