The Paradoxes of Citizenship Education: Frames and Factors Influencing Dispositions toward Discussing Political Issues in the Classroom

Marta Estelles, Jesús Romero, Francisco José Amo


This article aims to explore two assumptions that have underpinned most research on teachers’ perceptions of citizenship education (CE). These are, firstly, that teachers’ perceptions of CE are relatively coherent, conscious and classifiable into citizenship models and, secondly, that these perceptions are strongly connected to their political ideology and civic engagement. In this article, we present a study conducted at a Spanish public university to test these two assumptions. We designed a questionnaire to investigate the possible effect of tacit framing on preservice teachers’ perceptions of CE –by observing whether the use of different wording led them to reason about CE in different, or even contradictory, ways– and the relationship between preservice teachers’ disposition toward discussing current political issues and their political ideology and civic engagement. The findings illustrate the power of framing in shaping CE perceptions and show a non-significant relationship between preservice teachers’ disposition toward including political issues in the classroom and their political ideology/civic engagement. Although the items used in the questionnaire cannot fully account for the diversity of views of CE, political ideologies and civic engagement experiences, the results provide enough evidence to begin questioning the assumptions that have dominated the research on teachers’ perceptions about CE. These results have important implications for social studies educators and scholars.


citizenship education, teacher education, preservice teachers, civic engagement, political ideology, dispositions towards teaching political issues

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