Educating the future citizens: Curriculum and the formation ofmultilingual societies in Luxembourg and Switzerland


CALL: 2012

DOMAIN: ID - Humanities and Social Sciences


LAST NAME: Tröhler



HOST INSTITUTION: University of Luxembourg

KEYWORDS: Citizenship educationCurriculum studiesMultilingualismCultural historyNation-buildingHistory of educationLuxembourgSwitzerland

START: 2013-05-15

END: 2016-05-14


Submitted Abstract

Notions like citizenship education (or the like) indicate self-evident elements of the educational life at school, and often they refer to classroom and out-of-school practices that are understood as educational practices sui generis. However, the current understanding of these practices disguises the fact that in the beginning of modern schooling, ideas of citizenship education (and the like) were by no means thought of as educational activities sui generis, but the aim of the whole curriculum.A closer look at the foundational documents and the developments in different Western countries reveals that the modern school and its curriculum aimed, as it is stated in a Memorial of the Grand Duchy, to be the “cradle of the citizen” (Witry, 1900, p. 34). Thereby, theconsideration of the whole curriculum (rather than of selected subjects or activities) with regard to citizenship education does not include the idea that every individual school subject is intended to create students’ commitment to the ideals of their particular country (“patriotism”) orto the political form of it, for instance democracy.Citizenship education (in this broad sense) as the major objective of modern schooling was developed from idea that the future citizen was to be the bearer of the modern nation-state. In many countries, the ideal of the nation was ideologically legitimated with the ‘natural’commonality of the people speaking the same language. Especially the two dominant nationstates of nineteenth century continental Europe, France and Germany, identified their national characters with their respective languages. When doing so, they interpreted the family asnucleus of the ‘natural’ nation-state by extending the family’s gendered structure (mother, father) to the pair “mother-tongue” and “fatherland.” The biological character of the nation-state(“body of the state”) simplified the politicization of its unity and eased in turn the concerns of the actors of the school for more social advancement.How strongly and in what ways this widespread equation between nation and language (sociolinguist Blommaert (1999) refers to as the ‘one nation-one language-ideology’) affected the curriculum and the culture of the formation of the future citizens is one of the importanthistorical/empirical questions in the intersection between Nation-building, citizenship education, and education policy/curriculum development that still deserves to be answered. Evidently,however, the question addressing this intersection was and is somewhat different in multilingual countries. In these particular countries, the construction of the nation and therefore the curriculum as organization of education was different. This project aims at both analyzing the arrays of curricular strategies of citizenship education in multilingual countries and at dissolving away today’s understanding of citizenship education from its rather narrow to a broader scope and (re-)introducing it into the whole curriculum. Besides these historical-analytical and epistemological goals, some profit may be drawn bypolicy makers, for most of the contemporary societies can claim less and less to be still be unilingual. Two selected multilingual countries, Luxembourg and (selected parts of) Switzerland, will serve as cases to detect similarities or differences in the making of the citizens inmultilingual societies.

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