Civics in the Curricular Construction of the Loyal National Citizen: A Comparative View of Switzerland

Rebekka Horlacher


The implementation of public schooling is usually understood as both an expression
and a means of nation-building. The formal organization of the school, i.e. the
curricula, teaching materials and the respective teacher’s education were interpreted
as cultural-political arrangements deriving from assumed national convictions
about the future of the particular nation-state and its ideal citizens. Against this
background, the entire learning arrangement of the curriculum can be seen as
an instrument to educate pupils to become loyal national citizens. Of particular
interest is the curricular area which is explicitly dedicated to political education,
i.e. civics. This paper focuses on precisely this area and its teaching materials on
civic education in a nation-state which comprises different nations organized by
cantons, which cannot refer to a common religion, history or language and thus
to a common culture. Examining two different cantons of Switzerland, this article
deals with the question of how nation-building may differ within the framework
of one nation-state.
Keywords: history of schooling; nineteenth century; textbooks; nation-building;
citizenship education.

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