Construction Of Citizenship: Education In Australia

Year: 1995

Author: Jenkings, Patricia, Sherington, Geoffrey

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Citizenship education in Australia for much of the twentieth century has involved both formal education systems and more informal agencies of community organisations as well as the media. During the early twentieth century the construction of citizenship education related closely to the nature of the different school systems in Australia.

The state schools and parts of the independent corporate schools emphasised a citizenship founded on a common British Imperial ethic.

The growth of voluntary youth movements, such as the Boy Scouts, reinforced this view of citizenship. In contrast, the Catholic schools emphasised loyalty to the Catholic Church and the Australian nation.

The events of the Second World War and its aftermath helped create a new view of common 'democratic' citizenship and a new role for formal and informal education agencies. Policies for assimilation of new citizens were developed not only for the upbringing of the young but also with the arrival of the large numbers of non-British settlers after 1945. To the existing agencies of schools and community organisations was added the new role of the media.

In the two decades after 1945 radio thus became an important tool in education for citizenship. Specifically, the A.B.C. initiated various radio programmes as a basis of citizenship education. The final part of this paper illuminates the views of Sir Richard Boyer, Chairman of the A.B.C., in respect to his particular interpretation of citizenship education. As such it reveals how the postwar media constructed and promoted a specific view of being an Australian, that was part of the general campaign of citizenship education in the immediate post-war years. Such a study therefore suggests that citizenship education has to be understood both in a general historical and social context and with reference both to formal educational systems and other agencies of communication.