Thursday, September 15th, 2011
Following up on their first Civic Mission of Schools report in 2003, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools has just released a new report, Guardian of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools.
Emphasizing the importance of a national understanding of citizenship, the authors write:
America as a new nation was not created out of devotion to a motherland, a royal family, or a national religion. Americans are instead defined by our fidelity to certain ideals, expressed in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments. While citizenship is formally acquired through either birth or naturalization, all of us must learn to become Americans. Peoples from diverse cultural, religious, and racial backgrounds can fully join the American community by sharing its defining commitments. If Americans are not bound together by common values, we will become fragmented and turn on one another.
In addition to this civic attachment and national unity, though, the report emphasizes the tangible, everyday benefits of good civic education. Showing that students who take civics classes become better-adjusted and more successful adults, the authors argue that “although we want young people to be civically engaged in the communities where they live, we also want to be sure they will be prepared for engagement with the wider range of settings they will encounter as young adults, including workplaces. There is considerable overlap between the skills acquired as part of civic learning and the skills required in employment. Rather than viewing civic learning as an isolated part of the curriculum, educators and the public should consider this more inclusive picture.”
Following these preliminary discussions, the report then delves into “proven practices” of how to teach civics effectively in order to increase students’ knowledge, skills, and attachment.
The whole report is interesting and thoughtful, and well worth reading. It can be found here.