Felisa Tibbitts: A Primer for Selecting Democratic and Human Rights Education Teaching Materials


Civic Culture, student and teacher textbooks for the 7th and 8th Forms, were developed by the Romanian Institute for Educational Sciences for use in civics classrooms. Lessons cover one hour a week for a full year curriculum. The materials are considered to be an alternative civics texts, because of their emphasis on human rights and interactive methodologies. The texts are being used experimentally in classrooms in Romania and has been used as a model for text development in other countries in the region.

Consistent with the curricular program of the Romanian Ministry of Education, the 7th Form text concentrates on the Individual and Society and the 8th Form text focuses on Political and Social Structures. Although both texts are designed for use in the civics classroom, human rights is an important subtheme. Human rights is the key value system underlying the texts, and is taken up directly in the first section of the 7th Form text and the fourth section of the 8th Form text.

The Civic Culture texts are a synthesis of traditional teaching methods from Central and Eastern Europe and the interactive variety that is more commonly found in Western cultures. The lessons contain a great deal of text information and there is a strong emphasis on conceptual development. At the same time, questions are open-ended, encourage critical thinking and ask students to take into account their own life experiences. There is some use of activities that involve group work, role plays, and project-based research. Lessons draw on a range of examples, including both international examples as well as the personal experiences of the Romanian children.

At the time of its publication in 1995, the format was unique for original texts developed in Romania. Lessons included many pictures, exercises, side boxes, and room for children to write. In situations where books would need to be reused year to year, pupils can write their answers on separate sheets of paper.

The strength of these texts is the ways in which they introduce the principles of "the democratic classroom" while retaining concept-based learning. The texts are a kind of solution for introducing less authoritarian methods of teaching into educational systems in emerging democracies. Civic Culture materials also demonstrate one model for introducing human rights themes into a mandatory school subject.

The sample included concerns Human Solidarity, and is the concluding section from Chapter 3 of the 7th Form text.

Title: Cultura Civica (Civic Culture)
Author: Dakmara Georgescu
Publisher: Institute of Educational Sciences
Place and date of publication: Bucharest, 1995
Languages: Romanian and English
Total pages: students 7th Form text - 124 pages (Romanian version)
students 8th Form text - 126 pages
teacher
's manual - estimated 100 pages
Form: books
Address: IES, str. Stirbei voda 37, RO-70732 Bucharest ROMANIA

The Civic Culture textbooks are also on-line in the HREA's on-line Human Rights Education Library: http://erc.hrea.org/Library

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