Curriculum Perspectives

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 51–61 | Cite as

More than National Education: Possibilities for Critical Participatory Learning in the Australian Curriculum through Civics and Citizenship

  • Deborah Henderson
  • Libby Tudball
The Australian Curriculum


In this paper we examine the extent to which the Australian Curriculum for Civics and Citizenship Education provides opportunities to educate young people to be active, critical citizens, capable of ethical decision-making and democratic participation in their own communities and nations and in the wider world. We ask whether, if the formal curriculum is implemented, will it enable young Australians to be active citizens and participants in the twenty-first century as local and global citizens, whose learning goes beyond national education, to encompass current realities and issues of global interdependency that will impact on their future lives. This conceptual paper examines theories relevant to the development of active, critical and participatory citizenship. It discursively analyses the extent to which the Australian Curriculum offers a framework for the development of participatory citizens, prepared for uncertain futures, in a global world. While the various dimensions of the curriculum do include elements of ‘national education’, there are opportunities to frame the civil, political and social components of citizenship in ways that include local, national and global understandings. However, a review of the curriculum indicates that the knowledge and skills lack participative opportunities for social action. Civics and citizenship knowledge and skills can be developed if all elements of the curriculum are implemented in school classrooms. The achievement of active citizenship, however, also requires students’ participation in whole school programs and contemporary concerns, through authentic actions relevant to their own lives.


Civics and citizenship education Critical citizenship National education Australian Curriculum 


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Copyright information

© Australian Curriculum Studies Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationQueensland University of Technology (QUT)BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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