Civic Competences: Some Critical Reflections Germ Janmaat, Institute of Education, London Introduction



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Civic Competences: Some Critical Reflections

Germ Janmaat, Institute of Education, London



Introduction
Civic competences are generally seen as critical for democracy and social cohesion. Equally widespread is the assumption that schools have an important role to play in fostering these competences. The Council of Europe (2011a) for instance believes that
Education plays an essential role in the promotion of the core values of the Council of Europe: democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as in the prevention of human rights violations. More generally, education is increasingly seen as a defence against the rise of violence, racism, extremism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance.
However, this paper will argue that the notion of civic competences is problematic in a number of ways. The advocates of citizenship education need to address these problems in order to make a convincing case for the introduction or continuation of such education. The paper will identify four major problems and offer suggestions as to how these challenges might be taken up by supporters of citizenship education. The problems will be discussed one by one and concern the following: (1) the contested nature of the concept; (2) the diversity of qualities it refers to; (3) the relevance of civic competences for democracy and social cohesion; (4) the impact of citizenship education on civic competences.



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