FACILITATING YOUTH CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: CLIMBING THE LADDER OF COMMUNITY AWARENESS & CIVIC ACTION

Open Access
Author:
Bradley, Sean Michael
Graduate Program:
Educational Theory and Policy
Degree:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
None
Committee Members:
  • Dana Lynn Mitra, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • teacher autonomy
  • teacher leadership
  • youth civic engagement
  • student voice
  • service-learning
  • loose coupling
Abstract:
Youth civic engagement has emerged as a subset of educational research increasing in importance, both in the United States and abroad. This importance is expounded by a school culture obsessed with standardized test performance, which characterizes the current domestic condition. The purpose of education is undergoing a shift—curricula are woven to prepare students to perform well on tests instead of prepare them to be active members of a democratic society. The present case study examines a veteran sixth-grade educator who teaches in a suburban school district in close proximity to a gigantic research university. The data presented in the article have been collected through ongoing classroom observations and personal interviews spanning January-April, 2013, and December, 2013-present. Data include field notes from classroom observations, in-depth interviews with the teacher and her colleagues, brief conversations with students, and written student reflections. The goal of this study is to highlight the work of an experienced and driven teacher in a loosely coupled educational system, describe the decisions made by a street level bureaucrat, and draw implications regarding the benefits and drawbacks to when a teacher chooses to append civic-minded projects to the prescribed curriculum.