Myths and reality about ‘me and society’

29 February, 2016

Denola Chkhartishvili

"Me and Society” school subject has been actively debated by the society over the past two years. Some civil society organizations, separate individuals and the educational center at the Patriarchate of Georgia point at "anti-national” nature of the subject and oppose its introduction at Georgian public schools. Some people also claim that the subject promotes depraved lifestyle among adolescents and facilitates the degradation and mixing of religious and national consciousness. Manana Nikoleishvili, head of the Education League, attributes teaching of the subject to the Association Agreement with the European Union.

Actually, the subject "Me and Society” will be taught to the 3rd and 4th graders in frames of teaching social sciences and it aims at expanding adolescents’ knowledge about such issues as the surrounding world (family, school, community), healthy lifestyle, development of social skills, environmental protection, etc. According to the working version of the standards for teaching social sciences, the following issues will be taught to the 3rd graders:

1. My family - is about respecting family members; appreciating each other's work; family responsibilities; observing the rules of healthy living in a family; making family environment more beautiful, safety rules and sparing use of resources - discussion of these issues from an early age helps children develop the ability to respect older generations, respect traditions, distribute resources and develop their environmental skills.

2.School environment, friends, coevals – is about the rights and responsibilities of a child; respect for classmates and teachers; settlement of conflicts with coevals; personal hygiene and healthy eating; protection of school environment; development of equal opportunities; using education in professional life – discussion of these issues helps children establish the system of values; they will be able to learn the rules of social ethics and develop a sense of civic responsibility.

3.The environment, where we live – this topic basically involves the issues of distribution of responsibilities in the community; protection of the natural and cultural environment of the community; observance of traffic and safety rules; knowledge about urban/rural history and landmarks – awareness about these issues will help children develop the skills necessary for their public life and active civic engagement; as well as their care and respect for cultural heritage.

The following issues will be taught to the 4th graders:

1.Where and how do I receive education? – the topic is about the purpose of receiving education; education as the right for every child; rules of conduct in a theatre, museum and cinema; necessity of sports; importance of reading books and results of labor – thus, a child will be able to speak about future profession and successes achieved through hard work, as well as about observance of public order and importance of healthy living rules.

2. Media and information – is about the issues of receiving and using information; respecting dissenting opinions; social advertisement; sharing information with coevals about their rights and other issues – it means that children obtain information, familiarize themselves with modern technologies and gain/develop communication skills.

3. Me and my country – covers the topics, such as respecting the country, its flag and coat of arms; caring for nature; consequences of violating the rules and laws; importance of marking national holidays, etc. – this will help children develop their responsibilities before their own country and realize the importance of their rights and responsibilities.

To sum up the above mentioned, it should be noted that this subject will help children acquire all necessary skills for socialization and will promote their personal development. Any democracy is unimaginable without citizens with common values. Orientation to democratic principles is impossible if a child is not trained to free thinking, distribution of rights and obligations, tolerance and respecting dissenting opinions from an early age.

The school plays an important role in the process of establishing a person as a civil society member. A teacher has to lead the learning process so that to develop children’s ability to respect human dignity, freedom and equality, as well as to promote the establishment of children’s ethical and responsible conduct based on these values. Schoolchildren should be able to use their knowledge for active involvement in public life.

 Infographic is available here