ERIC Identifier: ED479890
Publication Date: 2003-11-00
Author: Gregory E. Hamot
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science
Civic Education Trends in Post-Communist Countries
of Central and Eastern Europe. ERIC Digest.
Developments during the decade-and-a-half following the fall of communism
in Central and Eastern Europe indicate broad advancement in civic education
for democracy. This ERIC Digest notes the rising trend in civic education
competency in Central and Eastern Europe, describes an increasingly accepted
and used framework for civic education, and illustrates this broad advancement
through three significant trends in collaborative projects that contribute
to civic education in Central and Eastern Europe.
A TREND TOWARD CIVIC COMPETENCY
The recent International Association for the Evaluation of Educational
Achievement (IEA) study of civic knowledge in 28 countries reveals some
startling conclusions. According to national results, the most successful
programs for democratic citizenship education exist in Poland, the United
States, and the Czech Republic (Torney-Purta et al. 2001). Given
this finding, one may conclude that collaborative efforts conducted with
western democracies, particularly the United States, contributed on some
level to the abilities of teachers and students in Poland, the Czech Republic,
and many other countries where such collaborations exist, to achieve the
highest levels of civic competence.
TREND TOWARD A COMMON EDUCATION FOR DEMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP
John Patrick, through myriad experiences with projects in Central and
Eastern Europe and his lifelong study of the teaching and learning of democratic
citizenship in the U.S., has developed a civic education framework (Patrick
2003). This framework appeals so widely to civic education reformers
that the American Council for International Education requires that all
civic education programs funded by their international Partners in Education
program include a balanced assortment of themes from
At the heart of Patrick's framework lie four key components of a common
democratic citizenship education and an elaboration on democracy's core
concepts (2003). First, the four key components include civic knowledge,
cognitive civic skills, participatory civic skills, and civic dispositions.
Second, Patrick's global framework requires that all democratic citizens
understand six core concepts in order to function most effectively in their
respective societies. These indispensable concepts include representative
democracy, constitutionalism (rule of law), rights within the parameters
of liberalism, citizenship, civil society based on a free and open social
system, and the market economy of a free and open economic system (Patrick
THREE TRENDS IN CIVIC EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
Many collaborations between U.S. institutions and educators in Central
and Eastern Europe implement Patrick's framework to produce three distinct
trends in civic education projects. Various combinations of these
trends can be found in each of the exemplary projects described here.
These trends include (1) original curriculum development for use in pre-adult
education, (2) university preservice teacher education, and (3) adaptation
of existing curricula.
Trend 1. Original curriculum development for
use in pre-adult education. Projects conducted by The Ohio State
University in collaboration with educators in Poland and Ukraine have worked
to establish new curricula for civic education that include all of Patrick's
four key components of a common education for democratic citizenship (Craddock
2003). Additionally, The University of Iowa College of Education
has collaborated with educational reformers in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria,
and Armenia to achieve a bottom-up unfolding of new curricula that meet
the needs of local populations (Hamot 2003; Hlebowitsh and Hamot 1999).
In each of these projects, the post-communist educators completed residencies
at their host U.S. institutions to explore curriculum ideas that fit their
national contexts. The core element of this trend in civic education
reform is the curriculum seminar that meets throughout the residencies.
This seminar forms the foundation for developing ideas and writing instructional
materials that can be used with pre-adult students in specific post-communist
environments (Remy 1996). Among the more popular trends in democratic teaching
methods--methods that enliven Patrick's framework--emerging from these
projects are Socratic seminars, role playing and simulations, historical
document analysis, and service learning.
Trend 2: University preservice teacher education.
Many partnerships between U.S. and Central and Eastern European educators
indicate a trend toward developing courses or complete certification programs
in civic education. A project between Boston University and Russell
Sage College and teacher education institutions in Samara, Russia and a
project between Indiana University and Vilnius Pedagogical University in
Lithuania exemplify this trend. Both projects stem from Civitas:
An International Civic Education Exchange Program, conducted by the Center
for Civic Education.
In the case of Russia, scholars and teacher educators
from the U.S. work with teacher educators in Samara to develop a preservice
teacher education program and textbooks in civic education. Eventually,
this project will lead to the first group of teachers certified in civic
education. Known as the University Reform Initiative, this project
required extracurricular civics activities, a notion shunned since the
staged projects of Soviet times (White 2003) and now a trend in teacher
education for citizenship.
The Indiana University initiative with Lithuania
follows the trend toward interdisciplinary preservice teacher education.
This project is developing a curriculum that fuses social work with civic
education. The Vilnius Pedagogical University's master's degree program
in social education will produce teachers who not only act as advocates
for child welfare, but also seek to assist students in analyzing social
problems within a developing democracy. In so doing, graduates of
this program will focus on the intersection of civic education and school
social work in the areas of Patrick's framework that include morality,
ethics, rights and responsibilities, empathy, and positive socialization
(Kvieskiene and Mason, in press).
Trend 3: Adaptation of existing curricula.
Given the speed with which Central and Eastern Europe must democratize,
many of the projects emanating from U.S. partnerships include the adaptation
of existing civic education curricula. Most prominent among those
adaptations is the Center for Civic Education's Project Citizen (1996).
This curriculum typifies the trend in post-communist civic education to
re-involve citizens in their political lives and futures as members of
a democracy. Project Citizen prescribes a format for students to
investigate a public issue and develop a reasoned policy that will address
the issue. Suitable to all democracies, Project Citizen is an example of
the trend to adapt existing U.S. materials that meet the needs of individual
post-communist educational contexts. Research conducted by Vontz,
Metcalf, and Patrick (2000) on Project Citizen in Latvia and Lithuania
indicates that this approach is successful when indigenous educational
reformers collaborate with U.S. partners in teacher education programs
and schools throughout post-communist Central and Eastern Europe.
The following Web sites contain resources and
information on trends in post-communist civic education.
* Civnet <http://www.civnet.org>,
the Civitas International Web site, describes the many programs conducted
by the Center for Civic Education under its Civitas: An International Civic
Education Exchange Program. Additionally, this site houses John Patrick's
most recent iteration of his global framework for civic education in a
democracy developed in June 2003.
* The Partners in Education (PiE) Program
of the American Councils for International Education
brings together post-communist educators with U.S. institutions to learn
about citizenship education and to observe and contribute to academic life
at the host institutions. Participants are expected to provide a training
conference in civics curriculum development and evaluation upon their
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