The purpose of this study is to examine middle school students’ citizenship behavior.
The study involved an open-ended survey.
In a previous study, when asked about citizenship, youth typically emphasized the importance of helping others. However, in this study, a different pattern of citizenship behavior emerged. Overall, 30 per cent of youth discussed personally responsible citizenship, 27 per cent emphasized disengaged citizenship, 25 per cent focused on personal development citizenship and only 3 per cent embraced patriotic citizenship. In addition, ethnic differences occurred. Among the Mohawk students, disengaged citizenship was the most popular form of citizenship. This finding contradicts the previous study on southwestern middle school Native Americans, who emphasized personally responsible citizenship.
This study was limited to students in the northeastern USA, and the results cannot be generalized to all middle school students.
Compared to previous research, the students expressed a different attitude about civic engagement. Among the Native American students, disengaged citizenship was the most common expression of citizenship. In addition, the middle school students’ very limited interest in patriotic citizenship (3.70 per cent) suggests that a strong interest in patriotism during the US Civil War may be more of the past than their present. Although attitudes about citizenship are changing, by understanding students’ perceptions about citizenship, citizenship education curriculum can be recalibrated to better meet the needs of students in the twenty-first century.
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