Active citizenship means playing an active role in your community. An important part of this role is recognising that you have a say in how things are done. By speaking up you’re often able to make a contribution to how your community is run.
Being an active citizen means that you:
- Know your rights but also your responsibilities as a member of your community
- Are well informed about decisions that you make
- Are able to reflect on your own actions and understand how they affect others
- Are able to explain your point of view on issues that affect other people.
Your opinion is the way you see and think about the world. Your way of looking at things may be different from the way other people in your community look at the same thing. This is why people debate their differences in order to come up with agreed solutions.
An informed opinion means looking at all sides of an argument and considering others’ opinions. It’s important that you can communicate what you think in a way that is clearly heard and understood by others.
Think about an issue that’s important to you. How can you best communicate your thoughts and feelings on this issue to your fellow peers? How can you explain it in a way that other people can understand your point of view?
Have you thought about how other people think about your issue? Would everyone agree with you? Who might not? Why don’t they?
Think about different ways you could work together to find solutions to shared problems in your classroom.
ACTION: Set up a class meeting process.
Here are six steps that might help your next classroom meeting:
- State the problem
- List the alternatives
- List the criteria for evaluating alternatives
- Evaluate alternatives
- Make a decision
- Evaluate the decision
Another great example to help the running of your classroom is the use of a parking lot.
The parking lot is a place on a wall, chart or story board where a group of people can ‘park’ notes suggesting positive comments, needs for improvement and general concerns, questions or insights, to be looked at a later time.
- Can be anonymous
- Are a place to store ideas
- Are a place to provide feedback
Class meetings can be structured around the parking lot system. Throughout the week students post questions and suggestions on the parking lot, which form the basis of the class meeting discussions.
You might want to think about how your class meetings can have an impact on the wider school and how they can support SRC or other leadership programs that might already exist in your school.
At the local level, you could consider writing to your local council or local representative about issues that are important to you and your classmates.
Thinking globally, using the Internet gives you the opportunity to voice your opinion and participate in discussions with other students from all over the world.
Look through the following sites to see how other young people are using the Internet to communicate their message.
Voices of Youth Blog - UNICEF
Taking IT Global
Student virtual parliament - Australia
New ways of communicating through the Internet are becoming an important part of positive social change. Blogging and social networking sites are helping people connect together. Many organisations such as, Oxfam, Amnesty International and the Red Cross are using a range of social networking sites to communicate their message, reaching people across the world.
Look through these resources to further investigate how these organisations are using social networking to communicate their message.