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What People Are Saying About Civics Education
posted by: Alana | November 18, 2016, 04:23 PM   


Last week, the United States finished one of the most contentious and bitter elections in recent memory.  While there are a lot of things that could be said about the election, one thing that became clear to people on all sides is that the US has neglected teaching civics in its schools.  According to The Atlantic:



When asked in the World Values Survey in 2011 whether democracy is a good or bad way to run a country, about 17 percent said bad or very bad, up from about 9 percent in the mid-1990s. […] Some 26 percent of millennials said it is “unimportant” that in a democracy people should “choose their leaders in free elections.” Among U.S. citizens of all ages, the proportion who said it would be “fairly good” or “very good” for the “army to rule,” has risen from one in 16 in 1995, to one in six today. Likewise, a June 2016 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution found that a majority of Americans showed authoritarian (as opposed to autonomous) leanings.


So, while policymakers and politicians are focusing on the fall-out from the recent election, educators across the country have begun a new conversation about how to improve civic education in our schools.  Here are some of the top things that they’re saying:


“Civics is not just an added requirement. It is the reason American public schools exist. Only by preparing students to think critically about what they hear from politicians and the media can we expect the next generation to answer the challenges that face America.” – Arlene Gardner, Nov 9th


“Given this inimitable latter-day political campaign, I, for one, believe it is time to reconsider the nature, function, place and scope of our civic education endeavors.  One possible means of conducting a re-examination of our civic education could be to take counsel from the authors of the Federalist Papers.  Their sage advice suggested injecting the following unfathomable civic traits into the newly formed governance structure: moral responsibility, self-discipline, respect for individual worth, human dignity, and a respect for law.”  - W. Jack Newhouse, Nov 4th


“Civic education should entail more than rote learning about the US Constitution or government. It should also include hands-on, community- and issue-based experiential learning that promotes informed and ethical decision-making.” – Heather Loewecke, Nov 7th


"When students leave my class, I want them to have a sense of the world being bigger than them – and of their responsibility, when they see something that needs to be addressed, to have the empathy and also the skill set to address it." – Javaugn Perkins, Nov 5th


John Adams once said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” If this is so, is it even possible for our children to gain a true understanding of civics without first learning about the moral absolutes upon which those civic responsibilities are based? – Annie Holmquist, Oct 20th.


Do you teach Civics?  How do you think we can strengthen our teaching of democratic principals?

Tell us your thougts in the comments below!


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