Political education in a democracy : a philosophical examination of some interpretations of political education in New Zealand

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Massey University
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'Political Education' in a Democracy, A philosophical examination of some interpretations of 'political education' in New Zealand. This thesis seeks to examine formal, informal and non-formal aspects of 'political education' in New Zealand. There is not only an attempt to expose political components of what is apparently an apolitical or non-political school system, but also to explore politically-educative characteristics of other agencies. Its aim is to clarify the relationships between politics and education. The first chapter examines the word 'democracy' and tries to discover the kinds of functions which a democratic society might require of its education system. The idea that political education occupies a key role in the continuance of democracy is advanced, and the adequacy of New Zealand education in relation to meeting the necessary requirements is evaluated. Further chapters deal with four possible interpretations of 'political education' in a democracy. Chapter two is concerned with the transmission of tradition and conformity. Chapter three deals with the maintenance of the system - how education serves as a recruiting agency. The fourth Chapter looks at 'political' aspects of civics and citizenship education, while Chapter five discusses political skills and knowledge - both their importance to a democratic system and their manifestation in New Zealand society. Running through the examination of these 'possible interpretations' is an evaluation of them in relation to democratic practices and ideals. In the final chapter, it is suggested that in terms of the requirements of democratic society in a rapidly changing world, New Zealand's 'political education' might be seen as both inadequate and unsatisfactory. It is recommended that greater emphasis be placed on the development of political skills and knowledge in the school system.
Political education, Political socialisation, Politics and education, New Zealand politics, Democracy