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‘Silent Citizenship Educators’ in Dutch Catholic Schools: Exploring Teachers’ Moral Beliefs About Citizenship in Relation to Their Conduct of Citizenship Education

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Abstract In this article we adopt a virtue ethical approach to study teachers’ moral beliefs about citizenship and their relation to two kinds of teacher behaviour in citizenship education: (1) teachers’ modelling behaviour, and (2) the way they arrange moral classroom discussions. We believe that a virtue ethical approach would appeal especially to religious schools, which is why we conducted our study in Catholic primary schools. Two hunderd and three teachers at 20 Catholic schools were involved. Teachers’ beliefs and behaviours were defined and operationalised from a community-centred perspective, because we expected that perspective to fit the context of a Catholic school. We found that these teachers indeed hold community-centred views on citizenship, the more so if they frequently attend church. Another important finding is that teachers do not necessarily show and share their beliefs about citizenship with their students. From a virtue ethical point of view, however, they should not be afraid to do so. As moral educators, especially in a religious school, teachers are allowed, even obliged, to name, explain and defend their beliefs and values.

Affiliations: 1: f.willems@iko.ru.nl ; 2: Radboud University Nijmegen the Netherlands

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