Conference PaperPDF Available

Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students' towards rights and responsibilities Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students' towards rights and responsibilities

Authors:

Abstract

In its broadest sense, ethics can be defined as the evaluation of human behaviors and attitudes in terms of right and wrong, good and bad. The concepts of right and wrong and the efforts of individuals to discriminate between them in order to behave properly are exactly within the framework of education. In fact, education itself is an ethical effort. The aim of education is to develop individual and to create a better future. From this point of view, education is both a natural area to practice ethics and a basic tool to achieve the goals of educational system. Schools are the institutions where targets of specific curriculum are given by professional teacher to students. There is not only knowledge and skills but also basic virtues and good characters should be gained in schools. Students are supposed to acquire main virtues and positive personal traits along with knowledge and skills at schools. Besides, schools have cultural, economic and social missions in addition to educate good citizens as an important mission. The purpose of this research is to examine the perceptions of public and private elementary school students about rights and responsibilities which are the essentials of the term of citizenship education and which is one of the main dimensions of ethics education. The opinions of students towards their rights and responsibilities will be gathered by open ended questions and analyzed by the content analysis method. In the present study, it was shown that elementary school students generally perceived the concept of "right" as "freedom gained", whereas they considered the concept of responsibility as "work to do and tasks to perform". The students in the study mentioned "the right to be involved with family decisions" at home and the responsibility for "helping with the housework" most. As for school and classroom settings, they emphasized "the right to a quality education" and "the responsibility for studying lessons and doing homework on a regular basis and on time". Among the rights in society, the rights to "education" and "life" were the most highlighted ones by the students. As for the responsibilities, they uttered the responsibilities to "love of country", and "adhere to laws" above all. There were slight differences between the elementary school students' perceptions about rights and responsibilities, when the factors of studying at a state or private school and at fifth grade or eight grade are taken into account.
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles
of elementary school students’ towards rights and responsibilities
Inayet AYDIN , PhD
Professor, Ankara University Faculty of Educational Sciences
Abstract
In its broadest sense, ethics can be defined as the evaluation of human behaviors and
attitudes in terms of right and wrong, good and bad. The concepts of right and wrong and the
efforts of individuals to discriminate between them in order to behave properly are exactly within
the framework of education. In fact, education itself is an ethical effort. The aim of education is to
develop individual and to create a better future. From this point of view, education is both a
natural area to practice ethics and a basic tool to achieve the goals of educational system.
Schools are the institutions where targets of specific curriculum are given by professional
teacher to students. There is not only knowledge and skills but also basic virtues and good
characters should be gained in schools. Students are supposed to acquire main virtues and
positive personal traits along with knowledge and skills at schools. Besides, schools have cultural,
economic and social missions in addition to educate good citizens as an important mission.
The purpose of this research is to examine the perceptions of public and private
elementary school students about rights and responsibilities which are the essentials of the term
of citizenship education and which is one of the main dimensions of ethics education. The
opinions of students towards their rights and responsibilities will be gathered by open ended
questions and analyzed by the content analysis method.
In the present study, it was shown that elementary school students generally perceived
the concept of “right” as “freedom gained”, whereas they considered the concept of responsibility
as “work to do and tasks to perform”. The students in the study mentioned “the right to be
involved with family decisions” at home and the responsibility for “helping with the housework”
most. As for school and classroom settings, they emphasized “the right to a quality education”
and “the responsibility for studying lessons and doing homework on a regular basis and on
time”. Among the rights in society, the rights to “education” and “life” were the most
highlighted ones by the students. As for the responsibilities, they uttered the responsibilities to
“love of country”, and “adhere to laws” above all. There were slight differences between the
elementary school students’ perceptions about rights and responsibilities, when the factors of
studying at a state or private school and at fifth grade or eight grade are taken into account.
Key Words: Citizenship education, Ethics, Rights, Responsibilities, Students' Opinions
about rights and responsibilities
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
Introduction
As a subject relating to moral behaviors, actions and judgments, ethics has become a
indispensable part of philosophy and a systematic study field. Morals concerns
assessing behaviors and results in terms of the concepts of right and wrong, good and
bad, virtue and defect. Ethics, analyzing moral expressions used and status of moral
judgments deals in judgments underlying moral attitudes (Nuttall, 1997, 15). In this
sense, ethics treats assessment of human behaviors and attitudes in terms of right and
wrong and good and bad (Pieper 1999). The concepts of good and right and human
attempts to discriminate good and right things and to direct behaviors accordingly
cannot be considered on a different basis disregarding education. In fact, education and
instruction themselves are ethical attempts. The aim of such attempts is to develop
individual and to create a better future. From this point of view, education is both a
natural area to practice ethics and a basic tool to achieve the goals of educational system.
Education is a process which affects man from cradle to grave and shapes him to
a certain extent. Ethics is man’s answers to the questions “What should I do?” and “How
should I live?”. In this sense, there is an imperious relationship between education and
ethics and Socrates connotes that as “Know Yourself”. Therefore, education is a life long
process “to know yourself in an ethical sense” (Ergüden, 2003, 2). In education, a process
where man tries to know himself and the world, ethical concerns lead to serious
contraversions and increase the necessity to deal closely in ethical matters for schools.
Schools are institutions where targets of specific curriculum are given by
professional teacher to students. Societies have attributed a lot of missions to this
bureaucratic organization called school (Lipham, Rankin & Roeh, 1985). Students are
supposed to acquire main virtues and positive personal traits along with knowledge and
skills at schools. Over the recent years, ethics education at schools has become more
2 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
important, which led to a greater attention paid to ethics. There are many reasons. First
of all, many people have complained about the gradual decrease in moral sensation in
society and material benefits have been brought in the foreground. People are not
encouraged to attain moral ideals and to maintain moral values (Bauman, 1993).
However, many sensible citizens, institutions and organizations have made great efforts
to help people understand the importance of doing the right thing. Another factor that
led to a greater attention paid to ethics education is ethical dilemmas caused by
technological developments and environmental issues. It is essential to teach individuals
to make necessary critical analysis in order to enable them to develop concrete policies
that might help them use technology in an ethical way and make appropriate ethical
decisions (Lisman, 1998, 140). Another understanding to emphasize ethics education at
schools is that schools have cultural, economic and social missions in addition to educate
good citizens as an important mission. On this account, education at schools is expected
to make future citizens conscious of rights and responsibilities.
The concepts of Right and Responsibility
Right and responsibility are two closely interrelated concepts. Consequently, it is
impossible to mention responsibility where there is no right or vice versa. When the
meanings of these concepts are taken into account, it is clear that both of them should be
attached equal importance. Rights are authorities given to people by legal system and
benefits where people exercise these authorities on their own will. More generally, a
right is an authority to do something or to ask others to act in a certain way or to do
something (Güriz, 1986, 34).
There have been various studies on classification of rights. Based on the French
Revolution, Vasak classified rights as freedom, civil and political rights, equality,
economic, social and cultural rights and international solidarity rights in the global
3 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
world. In another classification, vested interests like the rights entitled because man is a
man and the right to drive at a certain age are the focal point. Some intellectuals
studying rights suggest that the right to life is more important than the right to drive,
stating some rights are more important and weighted than others. They call the former
basic (foundational) rights and the latter indirect (implied) rights. Basic rights cannot be
handed over. Indirect rights are evolved from basic rights. For instance, the right to
health and care is an extension of the right to life. Indirect rights are divided into three.
These are legal, constitutional and contractive rights. In negative and positive rights
approach, all the rights entail certain tasks to perform. In that case, the rigts of an
individual or a group should be respected by the person or persons responsible to
ensure those rights (Cooney, 1998, 876-879).
Generally speaking, a responsibility means assuming results of personal actions or those
of an event included in within personal province (Akarsu, 1998, 162). People should be
responsible to themselves and to others, regarding behaviors. The word responsibility is
generally used as a synonym of the concepts of obligation and task. A task might be
viewed as a legal case where a right is limited. Basic rights include tasks, since they are
limited. A right given to a person is a task for society, other people and next generations.
Thus, it can be said that rights entail tasks and responsibilities. No one may have
limitless or endless rights and freedom; there should be a balance between rights and
responsibilities (Gülmez, 2001).
The concept of responsibility, as a fundamental subject, is in the centre of ethical
arguments. Responsibility is the first ethical value and “behaving responsibly” is an
expression to meet all the needs of a moral life. Responsibility is an important dimension
which appears in personal roles in life and personal status and place in the social
hierarchical order. That’s why responsibility is faced and defined in various ways when
its related field is concerned. Natural responsibility, artificial responsibility, personal
4 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
responsibility, professional responsibility, citizenship responsibility, moral
responsibility, accidental responsibility, positional responsibility, relational
responsibility, family responsibility and social responsibility are some examples.
Responsibility is a prerequisite for moral assessment. A person can only be morally
blamed or praised if he is to take responsibility of his own behaviors. In this sense,
freedom is one of the necessary conditions for responsibility, since people can only be
held responsible for their free voluntary actions (Roth, 1995, 742)
In his masterpiece entitled “The Principle of Responsibility” (Das Prenzip
Veratwortung), Hans Jonas discriminates between natural and artificial responsibility.
Parental responsibility exemplifies natural responsibility irrefutable and indispensable,
originated from the nature, which does not necessitate any prerequisites. On the other
hand, "artificial responsibility» is a responsibility undertaken with a contract and
determined in terms of time and content. Working in an office may exemplify artificial
responsibility. In artificial responsibility, you can get rid of this responsibility by quitting
or resigning. Another responsibility suggested by Jonas is "the one undertaken at free
will". For such a responsibility, also known as political responsibility, it is necessary to
gain power. That’s a politician has to possess power to take responsibility (Özbek, 2004,
17-18).
Three concepts in all these kinds of responsibility are crucial. These are integrity,
permanence and future. Integrity includes responsibility for all of the fields in human
life. In other words, it requires taking responsibility for the related subject as a whole, no
matter what responsibility is. Permanence means it is impossible to break off
responsibilities, since life continually and integrally goes on. The concept of future
means that responsibilities taken concern the future (Özbek, 2004, 17-18).
5 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
The axis of rights and responsibilities plays an important role in ethical acceptability of
human behaviors. Because generally rights and responsibilities are mutual. Children
rights define parents’ responsibilities. Student rights are teachers’ responsibilities.
Citizen rights are generally state responsibilities. On the mutuality axis parental rights,
teachers’ rights and state rights are individuals’ responsibilities.
When citizenship is concerned, the following goals are among the main goals of citizen
education programs: to increase love of country, to train up citizens to adhere to laws, to
increase the number of voters and ensure their participation in democracy, to make
citizens conscious of their rights and responsibilities, to create human rights culture and
to develop social ties. To this end, developing awareness of rights and responsibilities at
schools is crucial. Besides, training up citizens to be good requires good communication
between family, school and society and urging the need for these values in every setting.
Training up individuals to claim rights and responsibilities should be based on
collaboration between three inseparable systems. Training up adult’s to be well aware of
rights and responsibilities is possible when individuals are trained in terms of rights and
responsibilities at home, schools and in society from childhood. If rights and
responsibilities can be a normal part of daily life during childhood, sentient citizens of a
good character and with ethical values. Families are obliged to bring up their children to
be young citizens with rights and to ensure their social and moral education (Such
&Walker, 2004, 231). Schools are supposed to guarantee students rights such as the right
to learn, the right to be protected against discrimination and harassment, the right to be
assessed properly, the right to use latitude of thought, the right to privacy and the right
to participate in school activities and membership of school committees in classroom
and school settings. On the other hand, students have responsibilities to go to school for
education, attend lessons, respect others, bring necessary materials to class, obey school
rules, respect school and personal belongings, conform to academic standards, avoid
6 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
harassment and discrimination, perform tasks assigned and tell their family messages
from school and so on (Robbins & Alvy, 1995, 225-227; Aydın, 2003, 149-160). Outside
home and school, children have rights protected by laws to develop normally with a
sense of freedom and respect in physical, mental, emotional, social and moral terms
(Kepenekçi, 2003, 184). Also, children, as members of society, should take certain
responsibilities in accordance with their age.
Purpose
The purpose of the present study is to examine the perceptions of public and
private elementary school (5th grade and 8th grade) students about rights and
responsibilities which are the essentials of the term of citizenship education and which is
one of the main dimensions of overt and covert ethics education. Moreover, the opinions
of students towards their rights and responsibilities at home, school and in society are
gathered.
Method
Participants
Two hundred and thirteen students in total (seventy-three 5th graders and
eighty-one 8th graders from state schools, thirty-five 5th graders and twenty-four 8th
graders) were included in the study.
213 students in Ankara, Turkey were asked to participate in the study. All of them were
volunteered to participate. The reason for selecting the students of the research from
Ankara is the fact that Ankara, the capital of Turkey, being a metropolis, has a diversity
of socio-cultural and economic communities, and therefore, is believed to give a good
picture of Turkish population.
Procedures
7 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
Students were asked to write their opinions about the rights and responsibilities in
home, school and community by 14 open-ended questions. Opinions of students have been
analyzed through ‘content analysis’, a qualitative research method. The main purpose in
content analysis is to attain concepts and connections, which can serve the purpose of
explaining the collected data (Yıldırım & Şimşek, 2004).
Instrument
In the present study, a question form which consists of fourteen open-ended
questions to examine students’ personal information and their rights and responsibilities
at home, school and in society. The form draft was submitted for expert opinion and
after the suggested adjustments were made, twenty students totally (ten 5th graders and
ten 8th graders) were given a pre-test form. Thus, the question form was finalized.
Data analysis
Being recorded according to features in terms of rights and responsibilities at
home, school and in society, data gathered was classified as “attending a state or private
school”; and “studying at 5th or 8th grade”. Accordingly, definitions of rights and
responsibilities by students were analyzed and it was attempted to determine their
perceptions about their own rights and responsibilities concerning home, school and
society.
Limitations
The current study is limited with students from 5th and 8th grades at a state and
private elementary school in Ankara.
Findings
Findings on elementary school children’s definitions of the concept of “rights”
8 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
Most of the 5th graders defined the concept of “rights” as “an individual’s freedoms”
and stated that they perceived the concept of rights as “being free”. Some of them
considered the concept as “opportunities provided to meet an individual’s needs”. A
number of students defined the concept as “permissions by constitution and laws”.
Concerning this dimension another remarkable perception is that the concept of rights is
seen as “rules imposed by state”.
Given the descriptions by the 8th graders, the concept of rights was defined to be
classified under four headings. A number of students defines the concept as “things that
people have”, whereas another group viewed it as “individuals’ freedom”. Another
group of students perceived the concept as “authorities given by state”, while a large
group considered it as “an individual’s share by law”.
Findings on elementary school children’s definitions of the concept of “responsibility”
Almost all the 5th graders in the study perceived the concept of “responsibility” as
“work to do and tasks to perform”.
It was observed that the 8th graders largely considered the concept in a similar way and
defined that concept as “tasks to perform or behaviors to display”. It was determine that
some of the students considered the concept of responsibility as “rules to obey”, “to stick
up for behavior”, and “a reason for doing something”.
Findings on elementary school children’s perceptions about their rights at home
Common perceptions by the students about their rights at home are categorized under
different headings. On that basis, the most frequently mentioned rights were family
9 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
participation”. Under this heading, the most stated rights were “the right to be involved
with family decisions” at home”, “the right to utter wishes”, “the right to be involved in
family matters on an equal basis”, “the right to participate in family activities” , and “the
right to utilize furniture, tools and equipment at home”.
On the other hand, the rights that the students thought they should have under the title
of “game and entertainment” were as follows: watching TV”, “listening to music”,
“meeting friends”, “inviting friends or visiting best friends”, “wandering and having
fun”, “playing games”, “playing computer games”, “connecting to the Internet”.
As the third category, some rights were grouped under the title of “autonomy and
freedom”. The students stated that they had the following rights to: “have a room on
their own”, “decide on TV programs to watch”, “eat what they like, how much they
like”, “be allowed to decide on their own and be respected”, “sleep how much they
like”, “possess personal belongings”, “choose friends at free will”, “use and organize
their room independently”, “go to their room whenever they want”, “have a pet at
home”, “play a musical instrument”, “be bought things they want”, “wear what they
want”.
The rights under the fourth title concerned “be loved and tolerated. In this group, the
following rights were the most frequently stated ones: the right to “be listened to by
their family”, “be understood when they fail an exam”, “life in a happy family
atmosphere”, “avoid use of force”, “be educated without reprimand”, “be well-looked
after”, “be given enough pocket money”.
Findings on elementary school children’s perceptions about their responsibilities at home
10 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
Similar statements on elementary school children’s perceptions about their
responsibilities at home were combined and grouped under various headings.
As the basic responsibility at home, the students primarily and densely focused on
statements under the heading of “help with the housework”. Under that heading,
responsibilities of “helping clean the house”, “making bed”, “laying and cleaning table”,
“doing the washing-up”, “unloading the dishwasher”, “buying bread”, “doing
shopping”, “tidying their room”, “looking after pets” and so on were the most
frequently mentioned.
In the second group, there were certain responsibilities about “protection and
maintenance”. Among these were responsibilities of “keeping the house clean and tidy”,
“saving electricity and water at home”, “not harming household furniture”, “using
home tools and appliances properly”, “defending and protecting family” and so on.
In another group entitled “looking after siblings”, there were responsibilities like
“looking after younger siblings”, and “helping siblings with their homework”.
“Obeying rules at home” was densely mentioned by the students. In this group, there
were responsibilities like “not leaving home without permission”, “sticking up for
behaviors, being honest”, “being home early”, “informing parents about the time to go
back home”, “spending money on a regular basis”, “going to bed and getting up early
on school days”.
Finally, there were various responsibilities stated under the heading of “communication
and respect in the family. Among these were “complying with some of the family
wishes”, “not disturbing people at home”, “completing what you started”, “sitting at the
table together with family”.
11 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
Findings on elementary school children’s perceptions about their rights in school and classroom
Statements made by the 5th and 8th graders on their rights in school and classroom were
primarily grouped under the heading of “participation”. In this group, the students
claimed to have rights in school and classroom such as “the right to participate in school
trips”, “being involved with school decisions”, “participation in sports events, art and
cultural activities on an equal basis”, “participation in school and classroom elections
and vote”.
In the second group, there were rights to be grouped under the heading of “quality
education”. Under that heading, there were students’ perceptions like “learning subjects
best without getting bored”, “effective teaching by teachers”, “revising grey areas by
teachers”, “protection of learning rights”, “asking teacher for help unreservedly”,
“talking to teacher about problems”, “listening to teacher without being influenced by
others”, “organizing different creative activities at school”, “learning exam results in a
short time” respectively.
Another heading concerned the rights to think and self-expression. The students
perceived “giving mouth to thoughts during lessons freely”, “asking teachers about
things unknown unreservedly”, “being listened to by others without any interruption”,
“respect personal opinions by others” as their rights in school and classroom.
As for “Benefit form school opportunities”, the students claimed to have rights such as
“benefit from library”, “benefit from sports facilities”, “using playgrounds freely”,
“utilize school tools and equipment”.
12 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
As for “Entertainment and relaxation”, the students claimed to have rights such as
“taking a break”, “going to the garden”, “spending break-time only for entertainment
and relaxation ”.
Finally, the students mentioned rights to be taken as safe and good relationships at
school” These were rights such as the rights to “be together with friends and have good
relationships”, “ask friends for help”, “avoid use of force by others”, “be educated in a
clean and regular setting”.
Findings on elementary school children’s perceptions about their responsibilities in school and
classroom
The students’ perceptions about responsibilities in school and classroom were grouped
under various headings. The first group concerned responsibilities of “studying lessons
and doing homework”. Under this heading, the students’ statements were as follows:
“doing homework on time and a regular basis”, “studying lessons regularly and
efficiently”, “preparing for exams and getting high grades”.
Under the heading of “Participation in the lesson and listening to the teacher”, the
students stated that they had responsibilities like “coming to school and class on time,
not late”, “attending lessons regularly”, “coming to classes on time”, “bringing
necessary materials on time”, “leaving school on time”, “not leaving the classroom
without teacher’s permission”.
Under the heading of “Being disciplined”, the following responsibilities were mentioned
by the students: “Keeping school and classroom clean”, “protecting and not harming
school and class property”, “not violating school and classroom order”, “obeying rules
for wearing”, “adhering to disciplinary regulations”, “obeying school and classroom
13 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
rules and warning those who do not”, “not writing on walls and desks”, “performing
standby tasks at school”, “not speaking in class without permission”, “performing
school tasks well”. .
As for “Respect for others”, the students stated that they had responsibilities like
“respect for teachers”, “not disturbing others at school”, “not making unpleasant jokes”,
“getiing on well with friends”, “respect for friends, being helpful to others”, “not
rebelling against teachers and complying with their wishes”, “protecting younger
students”.
Findings on elementary school children’s perceptions about their rights in society, as citizens
The perceptions of the elementary school students about their rights in society as
citizens were grouped under four headings. Firstly, under the heading of “live freely”,
certain rights such as “going out and playing outside”, “enjoying freedom not harming
others”, “traveling, wandering, having fun”, “living where they want”, “choosing the
desired profession”, “living in an organized society”, “finding a job and work” were
mentioned by the students.
Secondly, the student perceptions grouped under the heading of “the right to think and
self-expression” were as follows: the right to “speak and speech”, and the right “to
forward opinions freely without any pressure”.
Under the third heading, there were rights relating to benefit from public areas and
services”. The students’ perceptions on that issue were as follows: “Playing in the
playground”, “benefiting from shopping malls”, “the right to education”, “the right to
health”, “and the right to elect and be elected”.
14 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
Among the statements under the heading of “benefit from state protectionwere “state
protection for citizen rights”, “dealing with a complaint about those who violate rights”
and “the right to redress”.
Findings on elementary school children’s perceptions about their responsibilities in society
The elementary school students mentioned various things as responsibilities towards
society as citizens. The following results may be presented after combining similar ones
under common headings.
The students mentioned the following responsibilities under the heading of “Love of
country”: “Loving their country”, “defending their country”, “doing military service”,
“protecting and glorifying the flag”, “working for development and improvement of
country”, “paying taxes”, “protecting state belongings and common areas open to
public”, “avoiding graffiti”, “not harming public transport vehicles”, “performing all the
tasks relating to country”, “saving country electricity and water”.
Responsibility perceptions under the heading of “Adhere to laws” were as follows:
“adhering to social rules”, “warning those who do not adhere to laws”, “adhering to the
constitution”, “adhering to rules and laws”, “respect for state men”, “not harming and
not disturbing people”, “obeying traffic rules”, “informing authorities in case of
danger”.
Statements to be called “Responsibility of social membership” were as follows: “keeping
the environment clean and protecting the environment”, “not dropping litter in the
street”, “communicating with others politely”, “working for public benefits”,
“protecting the living”, “not clamoring”.
15 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
Among responsibilities perceived by the students under the heading of “Respect for
human rights” were “respect for other people’s feelings and opinions”, “respect for
others’ right to speak”, “not critizing others for their qualities”, “being fair to people”,
“respect for others’ private life”.
Under the heading of “Social ties”, there were responsibilities perceived by the students
such as “helping elderly people and younger ones in need” and “ensuring social
solidarity”.
Under the heading of “Participation in democracy”, the students mentioned “respect
for society”, “voting in good time”, and “standing as an executive candidate”.
Discussion
The elementary school students perceived the concept of rights as “freedom”,
“authority”, “opportunity”, “official permission”, “rules”, “personal belongings”, and
“an individual share by law”. A large group of students considered the concept of
rights as “freedom”. Rights and freedoms are two concepts which are used together, but
generally confused with each other. The concept of freedom is facility to do or not to do
something. It means not being under pressure by state or another force, not being forced
to do something and not being repressed. The concept of rights has a broader meaning.
This term includes not only independence, but also demands from state or society
(Uygun, 1996, 9). However, these descriptions by the students about the concept of
rights are interesting, since they showed that the students rather emphasized passive
status rights and mentioned active status rights less. There was no significant difference
between attending a state school or a private school or 5th grade or 8th grade.
16 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
Almost all the elementary school students perceived the concept of responsibilities as
“work to do and tasks to perform”. Only a few perceived it as “rules to obey”, “sticking
up for behaviors” and “a reason to do something”. It is not surprising that the students
perceived the concept of responsibilities, based on tasks and homework. Because
responsibility, in the broadest sense, is performing a certain task in accordance with the
desired quality and quantity. In this context, the students perceived responsibility as
tasks assigned to them. Generally, there are two types of responsibilities. The first is
“being accountable to superiors”. The second one is “taking responsibility”, which
means undertaking a duty (Başaran, 1991, 105). It can be suggested that the students had
perceptions about being accountable to superiors by definitions as “work to do” and
“rules to obey and about taking responsibility by definitions as “sticking up for
behavior” and “a reason to do something”.
Rights and Responsibilities at home
Common perception of the students about their rights at home were grouped under the
headings of family participation”, “games and entertainment”, “autonomy and
freedom” and “be loved and tolerated. In this group, there were not significant
differences between the state school students and the private school students’
perceptions about their rights at home. Yet, the state school students claimed more
rights concerning having “their own room” and “a suitable atmosphere to study”.
There were basic differences between the 5th graders and 8th graders concerning rights.
The 5th graders rather mentioned certain rights to “play games”, “have pets” and
“watch TV”, whereas the 8th graders freedom demanding claimed rights to “go out with
friends”, “wear what they like” and “choose friends freely”. The difference might be
caused by some factors of being a child and an adolescent.
17 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
The elementary school student perceptions about their responsibilities at home were
grouped under the headings of “helping with the housework”, “protection and
maintenance” “looking after siblings”, “obeying family rules” and “communication and
respect in the family”. When statements concerning responsibilities at home by the state
school students and the private school students were compared, it was seen that the
state school students mentioned more responsibilities in quality and in number. They
particularly mentioned “helping with the housework” and “looking after siblings”,
whereas the private school students stated that they took responsibilities like “looking
after pets”, “keeping the house clean” and so on. Considering the fact that the average
number of siblings was three or more for the state school children, those students felt
responsible for helping with the housework, since the amount of housework was high
and it varied. Furthermore, the state school students mentioned the responsibility of
“being respectful” more. There were not big differences observed between responsibility
statements considering the grade variable.
Rights and Responsibilities in school and classroom
The elementary school students claimed a lot of rights under the headings of
“participation in school”, the right to “a quality education”, the right to think and
self-expression”, “benefiting from school opportunities”, “entertainment and
relaxation”, having safe and good relationships at school”. There were not many
differences between the state school student perceptions and the private school student
perceptions about this subject matter. Concerning this dimension, all the students
agreed on “forwarding opinions”, “a good education by teachers” and “being allowed to
spend enough time to have fun and relax during the break” most. There was no big
difference between grades concerning this dimension.
18 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
Student perceptions about their responsibilities in school and classroom were grouped
under the headings of “studying lessons and doing homework”, “participation in
lessons and listening to the teacher”,” being disciplined”, “respect for others”. The most
common responsibility perceptions shared by all students were “doing homework on
time and on a regular basis”, “participation in lessons”, “obeying school and classroom
rules” and “getting on well with friends”. Apart from that, the state school students
focused on responsibilities like “respect for teacher”, “protecting younger students”,
“not rebelling against teachers”, “not writing on walls and desks” more than the private
school students did. It might be caused by the fact that in state schools, there are more
destructive behaviors. Moreover, the strong emphasis on “respect for teacher” might be
caused by the fact that state school children are taught traditional respect value more.
When grade was taken into account, it was seen that unlike the 5th graders, the 8th
graders mentioned the responsibility of “protecting younger students”.
Rights and Responsibilities in society
Student perceptions about their rights in society as citizens were grouped under the
headings of “living freely”, “the freedom of thought and speech”,benefiting from
public areas and services”, “benefiting from state protection”.
Almost all the students highlighted the basic rights such as “the right to life”, “the right
to education” and “the right to health”. Like the state school students, the private school
students stated that they had rights such as the right to “life freely not harming others”
and the rights to “go out, wander, have fun and travel”, “speak and speech”, “find a job
and choose a profession”, “elect and be elected”. However, unlike the private school
students, the state school students mentioned certain rights like the right to “benefit
from parks and shopping malls” and the right to “redress”. The reason of that difference
may be the fact that the state school students might long for such places because of the
19 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
location of school in outskirts of town where socio-economic conditions are poor. When
grade was taken into account, it was seen that the 8th graders rather focused on
freedoms, while the 5th graders perceived games and entertainment as rights due to
their age.
Responsibilities toward society perceived by the elementary school students as citizens
were grouped under the headings of “Love of country”, “Adhering to laws”,
“Responsibility of social membership”, “Respect for human rights”, “Social ties”, and
“Participation in democracy”. The students who attended state schools mentioned
responsibilities like “love of country”, “military service” and “helping elderly and poor
people” more, whereas those who attended private schools emphasized responsibilities
like “adhering to laws”, “respect for human rights” and “participation in democracy”.
Concerning this dimension there was not a sharp difference between the responsibility
perceptions of the 5th and the 8th graders.
Conclusion
Awareness of rights and responsibilities is the basis of efficient citizenship as well as
being one of the basic ethical values. This is why bringing up children who could enjoy
their rights and take responsibilities is a fundamental obligation of parents, schools and
societies. A large number of the elementary school students included in the study
perceived their rights and responsibilities at home, in school and classroom and in
society in accordance with both theoretical studies and the content of citizenship lessons
in the curriculum of the Ministry of National Education. That’s; the students perceived
their rights and responsibilities as children at home, as students in school and classroom
and as citizens in society. This is essential to train up students to be sensible enough to
become good citizens.
20 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
21 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
References
Akarsu, B.(1998). Felsefe Terimleri Sözlüğü. İstanbul: İnkılap Kitabevi.
Aydın, İ. (2003). Eğitim ve Öğretimde Etik. Ankara: PEGEM-A Yayıncılık.
Başaran, İ.E.(1991). Örgütsel Davranış: İnsanın Üretim Gücü. Ankara: Gül Yayınevi.
Bauman, Z. (1993). Postmodern Ethics. Cambridge: Blackwell
Cooney, W. (1998). “Rights Theory”. Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, Vol. 3. Academic
Press.
Ergüden, A. (2003). “Uygulamalı Etik Ne Tür Bilgi İçerir ?” . 1. Ulusal Uygulamalı Etik
Kongresi Kitabı. ODTÜ, Felsefe Bölümü, 12-13 Kasım 2001.
Gülmez, M. (2001). İnsan Hakları ve Demokrasi Eğitimi. Ankara: TODAİE Yayını, No: 303.
Güriz, A. (1986). Hukuk Başlangıcı. Ankara: Ankara Üniversitesi Basımevi.
Kepenekçi, Y. (2003). “Hukuk ve Öğretmenlik Mesleği”. Öğretmenlik Mesleğine Giriş. (Ed:
M.D.Karslı). Ankara: PEGEM-A Yayıncılık
Lipham. J. M, Robb. , E. Rankin., A. Hoeh. (1985). The Principalship Concept, Competencies
and Case. New York: Longman Inc.
Lisman, D.C. (1998). Ethics Education in Schools. Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics. San
Diego: Academic Press.
Nuttall, John.(1997). Ahlak Üzerine Tartışmalar: Etiğe Giriş. (Çeviren: Abdullah Yılmaz).
İstanbul: Ayrıntı Yayınları
Ogletree, T. W. "Responsibility". Encyclopedia of Bioethics. Revised edition. (Ed: Warren
Thomas Reich). Vol. 4, New York: Simon&Schuster MacMillan.
Özbek, Sinan. (2004). "Devlet adamının sorumluluğu- Hans Jonas'cı yaklaşımın
eleştirisi." Felsefe Logos. 24; 2004-3. İstanbul: Bulut Yayınevi.
Pieper. A. (1999). Etiğe Giriş. (Çev:V.Aytaman, G. Sezer). İstanbul: Ayruntı Yayınları.
Robbins, P. , Alvy H.B. (1995). The Principal’s Companion: Strategies and Hints to Make the
Job easier. California: Corwin Press, Inc.
22 | P a g e
Proceedings of the 2007 South European and Mediterranean
Conference on Citizenship Education
Citizenship Education as an ethical perspective: Perception styles of elementary school students’ towards rights and
responsibilities
Rooth, J. K.(Ed.) (1995). International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn
Publishers.
Such, E., Walker, R. (2004). Being Responsible and Responsible Beings: Children’s
Understanding of Responsibilitiy. Children & Society, Vol. 18, pp. 231-242.
Uygun, O. (1996). Demokrasi ve İnsan Hakları. Ankara: TODAİE, İnsan Hakları Araştırma
ve Derleme Dizisi, 3.
Yıldırım, A. Şimşek, H. (2004). Sosyal Bilimlerde Nitel Araştırma Yöntemleri. Ankara:
Seçkin Yayınları.
23 | P a g e
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Responsibility is a key concept in policy and public debate about the lives of children and families. On the one hand, parents are assumed to take responsibility for children's well-being; on the other, children and young people are blamed and frequently punished for “irresponsible” or anti-social behaviour. The article deconstructs the concept of responsibility from children's perspectives. Data are taken from a pilot study of 29 children aged nine and 10 in the East Midlands, England. In-depth interviews revealed that children assume a series of responsibilities in the home and that these are understood as an inevitable and “normal” part of daily life. Children also described the basis of “being responsible” as underscored by two core values (honesty and fairness) and indicated that responsibility was a crucial part of their moral worlds. These moral understandings were, however, malleable. They were particularly mediated by the child-parent relationship and were constantly being negotiated and renegotiated in the home.
Felsefe Terimleri Sözlüğü
  • B Akarsu
Akarsu, B.(1998). Felsefe Terimleri Sözlüğü. İstanbul: İnkılap Kitabevi.
Örgütsel Davranış: İnsanın Üretim Gücü
  • İ E Başaran
Başaran, İ.E.(1991). Örgütsel Davranış: İnsanın Üretim Gücü. Ankara: Gül Yayınevi.
Postmodern Ethics. Cambridge: Blackwell Cooney
  • Z Bauman
Bauman, Z. (1993). Postmodern Ethics. Cambridge: Blackwell Cooney, W. (1998). "Rights Theory". Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, Vol. 3. Academic Press.
Uygulamalı Etik Ne Tür Bilgi İçerir ?
  • A Ergüden
Ergüden, A. (2003). "Uygulamalı Etik Ne Tür Bilgi İçerir ?". 1. Ulusal Uygulamalı Etik Kongresi Kitabı. ODTÜ, Felsefe Bölümü, 12-13 Kasım 2001.
İnsan Hakları ve Demokrasi Eğitimi
  • M Gülmez
Gülmez, M. (2001). İnsan Hakları ve Demokrasi Eğitimi. Ankara: TODAİE Yayını, No: 303.
Hukuk Başlangıcı. Ankara: Ankara Üniversitesi Basımevi
  • A Güriz
Güriz, A. (1986). Hukuk Başlangıcı. Ankara: Ankara Üniversitesi Basımevi.
Hukuk ve Öğretmenlik Mesleği
  • Y Kepenekçi
Kepenekçi, Y. (2003). "Hukuk ve Öğretmenlik Mesleği". Öğretmenlik Mesleğine Giriş. (Ed: M.D.Karslı). Ankara: PEGEM-A Yayıncılık