UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The social studies in British Columbia schools : education or alienation? Clarke, Patrick Sean


The study views political learning as having two divergent components, political education and political socialization. Political socialization is a process of values allocation in which beliefs are transferred from one generation to another. Political education concentrates on questioning values through critical inquiry in which social issues are viewed as subjects for analysis. Political education concentrates on subjective analysis while political socialization is more inclined to be objective in nature and presents society as a mechanism to be learned about. It is suggested that as an objective exercise, political socialization is a process which could be inclined to alienate its recipients. In presenting the society and in particular its political aspects, as a set of established values to be learned and understood, political socialization discourages participation in the political sense. This is accomplished when participation is circumscribed by socialization to certain activities, principally, voting. Due to this limited understanding of participation political activity beyond voting is less likely and politics becomes increasingly incomprehensible. Citizens are removed from active participation to become, in effect, an audience. This lack of involvement can lead to apathy or confusion towards political matters. The study posits that such political behaviours are manifestations of alienation. These theoretical considerations provide a framework for the examination of social studies curricula in British Columbia. These curricula may be agents of socialization and hence conducive to alienation in students. The study provides an analysis of three curriculum documents according to a framework which ascertains the degree to which a curriculum is inclined to political socialization or political education. The analysis undertaken by the study determined that since 1950 British Columbia has had in place social studies curricula which have been inclined to political socialization and were, therefore, conducive to political alienation in students. The study indicates a 1979 draft curriculum presented by the Ministry of Education is a curriculum of political education. It was concluded that this curriculum is different in orientation than the two previous social studies curricula prescribed in British Columbia.

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