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Children's Social Consciousness and the Development of Social Responsibility
Children's Social Consciousness and the Development of Social Responsibility
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Sheldon Berman - Author
SUNY series, Democracy and Education
Hardcover - 264 pages
Release Date: April 1997
ISBN10: 0-7914-3197-5
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-3197-9

Out of Print
Price: $33.95 
Paperback - 264 pages
Release Date: April 1997
ISBN10: 0-7914-3198-3
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-3198-6

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Breaks new ground in our understanding of the development of social consciousness and social responsibility in young people and the educational practices that promote this development.

This book breaks new ground in our understanding of the development of social consciousness and social responsibility in young people and the educational practices that promote this development. Berman shows that children's awareness of the social and political world emerges far earlier and their social and moral abilities are more advanced than we thought. Drawing on the research literature in such fields as moral development, citizenship education, political socialization, prosocial development, and psychosocial development, Berman provides educators and researchers with the developmental understandings and instructional strategies necessary to enable students to become active, caring, and responsible members of our social and political community.

"I believe this book pushes the field of educational and developmental psychology to a new level. It addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time. The importance of the development of a socially responsible citizenry capable of working effectively toward the common good cannot be underestimated in a society torn by privatism and individualism as is ours." -- Mary Field Belenky, University of Vermont, co-author of Women's Ways of Knowing

"Berman pushes us to consider how more than service opportunities or isolated courses in contemporary issues will be needed if students are to become engaged citizens. In doing so, he lays the groundwork for a movement to reclaim the civic purposes that once undergirded American education. Achieving this end will require a transformation of curriculum, instruction, and school structures aimed at incorporating multiple perspectives, providing more room for student voices, and supporting the formation of interactive school communities in which students feel cared for and influential." -- Gregory Smith, Lewis and Clark College, author of Education and the Environment: Learning to Live with Limits

Sheldon Berman is the Superintendent of Schools in Hudson, Massachusetts. Prior to assuming this superintendency in 1993, he was one of the founders of Educators for Social Responsibility and served as President from 1985 to 1993. He is the co-editor (with Phyllis LaFarge) of Promising Practices in Teaching Social Responsibility, also published by SUNY Press.

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Table of Contents


1. "I care about the world. But I don't think it concerns me, even though it does."

2. The Development of Social Responsibility

The Meaning of Social Responsibility
Models of Development
The Early Emergence of Social Understanding
Patterns of Development: Political Consciousness
Individual Differences

3. From Consciousness to Activism

Efficacy and Activism
The Roots of Activism: Moral Integrity
The Roots of Activism: A Connected Sense of Self
The Roots of Activism: Meaning and Place
The Emergence of Activism

4. Processes that Promote Development

Modeling and Cooperative, Nurturant Relationships with Others
Perspective Taking and Perspective-Taking Dialogue
Conflict and Equalizing Dialogue

5. Educational Interventions and Social Responsibility

A Knowledge Base and an Ideological Framework
An Open Classroom Climate
Welcoming Controversy and Conflict
Participation in Decision Making and Democratic Governance
Classroom Communities of Care and Cooperation
Direct Engagement in the Social and Political Arena
An Integration

6. The Current State of Educating for Social Responsibility

Social Responsibility in Policy and Practice
The Reality of Civic Education in the Classroom: Teachers, Texts, and the Conception of Citizenship
Persistent Patterns

7. The Courage to Teach Social Responsibility

A New Theoretical Framework
Creating Change
A Gift of Strength and  Hope

Appendix A: Model District-Wide Curriculum Assessment



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