MiddleWeb: Using Dystopian Fiction to Explore Citizenship
August 18, 2015
By David Sebek
The image is iconic. Edward Snowden, pale and unshaven, sitting in a bright, mirrored hotel room, attempts to explain to the world why he leaked classified information from the United States National Security Agency.
His soft spoken plea for understanding lasts twelve minutes and thirty-five seconds and has more than three million views on YouTube. The interpretation of his actions is polarizing, his place in the historical timeline debatable. How will he be remembered? A hero or a traitor?
In defining Snowden’s actions we also define our views on citizenship. Which seems a little bit backwards, especially in education. We often tell students the general concept and then share the examples. But defining ambiguous concepts like citizenship requires an inductive approach, one where we need to look at many examples in order to define the concept, and more importantly, how each student applies it to their own lives.
I’d like to consider several questions here: How do we approach a definition of citizenship in our classrooms? Where do we find the examples of citizenship in question? What are the criteria we use to evaluate a person’s actions in terms of citizenship? And how does citizenship connect to the massive interest in dystopian fictionamong today’s middle schoolers?
August 19, 2015
In: Civic Learning in the News