Children learn, often through play, the skills of successful interaction, and to apply in rudimentary form concepts like fairness and rights. In coming to decisions they learn to quantify and to use information.
Social issues arise throughout the Primary School Curriculum and children will have had opportunities to develop understandings of diversity, of human rights and of sustainable development through subjects such as history, geography and through their use of and study of languages, English and Gaeilge. Social, Personal and Health Education in particular provides opportunities to further develop their understandings of themselves in relation to other people, particularly through the strand ‘Me and the wider world’.
Learners continue to develop their understanding of their place in the world through the statements of learning which provide the basis for planning a new junior cycle. Of particular relevance are
Statement of learning 7: The student values what it means to be an active citizen, with rights and responsibilities in local and wider contexts.
Statement of learning 9: The student understands the origins and impacts of social, economic, and environmental aspects of the world around her/him.
Statement of learning 10: The student has the awareness, knowledge, skills and values to live sustainably.
While schools can choose to provide for these statements of learning through a range of subjects and short courses, the short course in Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE), integrated into the Wellbeing programme, provides a foundation in the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for studying Politics and Society at senior cycle as do other curriculum areas including history, geography, languages and religious education. The active and participatory methodologies used in Politics and Society will complement the student-centred teaching and learning approaches of the new junior cycle.
The focus of Politics and Society, in part, corresponds to that of other senior cycle subjects, notably geography, home economics, history, and religious education, and, to a lesser extent, economics (in the areas of economic systems and economic thought), English (in relation to social and media literacy), mathematics (in relation to the ability to interpret and analyse data) and technology (in relation to technology and society). These correspondences arise from the fact that different disciplines share an underlying concern with core aspects of human life. The areas of study have been chosen to ensure that there is minimal overlap between the content of Politics and Society and the content addressed in other senior cycle subjects. On the few occasions where such overlaps exist, Politics and Society differs from other subjects in the perspectives, methods and modes of analysis that it brings to bear. Notwithstanding this difference in content and in approach, however, there will be significant opportunities for learners to relate and integrate their learning between Politics and Society and these other subject areas. There will also be resonances between the areas addressed in Politics and Society and some of the topics and themes addressed throughout Transition Year. The active and participatory methodologies used in Transition Year will also provide a grounding for some of the methodologies used in Politics and Society.
Politics and Society provides an opportunity to link into social, scientific and philosophical subjects in further and higher education. Such subjects are currently offered in higher education in the form of programmes in sociology, political studies, philosophy and anthropology, as well as in social studies programmes (often linked to professional development in areas such as social work, social care and human resources management). They are also usually included in interdisciplinary programmes such as international relations, women’s studies, development studies and equality studies.
Community and society
Politics and Society is centrally concerned with learning that can be utilised and made relevant in everyday life. Learners will have opportunities to use and further develop their skills in communication, in working with others and in analysing and drawing conclusions from information in social settings and through participation with groups and initiatives in their community. They will have opportunities to apply the concepts and ideas discussed in Politics and Society to everyday decisions as to how to act ethically. In this way their school-based learning will be applicable to and deepened by active and reflective citizenship throughout their lives.
The skills, knowledge, values and attitudes that they will develop through Politics and Society will be of value to learners and applicable by them throughout their lives in their engagement with political processes, and in decisions they will make in their work and personal lives.