Mika Hietanen og Stefan Rimm: Argumentation Literacy as a Civic Literacy in Secondary Education

The school’s democracy mission has for years been a challenging topic. Despite consensus on the need to work on deliberative democracy, citizen participation, and value discussion, many teachers are unsure about how to meet these goals. In part, this is due to formulations in the curricula, in part due to a lack of tools and practices that foster these goals in the classroom. Since the turn of the millennium, Rhetoric has been introduced as a way to meet these needs, but has often gone only half-way due to a focus on presentation performance.

We believe that the use of Rhetoric needs to broaden so as to include argument literacy, including critical thinking, on a foundation of ethical considerations and activities for student engagement with questions of democracy, values, and citizenship. Through an overview of current curricula in Sweden and in Finland, this study addresses these challenges in terms of civic communication literacy and draws out some tentative guidelines for how this type of literacy should be understood in relationship with current educational curricula, and suggests some paths to take with regard to educational practices for Secondary education.