<< The Body Politic

Civic engagement and the economy

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

The other week at National Journal, Steve Peha wrote that “Mere learning is now passé; a well-paying job is the true 21st century diploma. Civics and things like the Arts are no longer ‘must haves’ but ‘nice to haves’; soon they will become “not haves”; and if we allow it, they will be ‘never haves’ for many students in many public schools. This progression seems to me antithetical to the future health of our children and of our society.”

He goes on to argue that a crowding out of civics education in order to make more time for math and science–so as to better prepare students for jobs–is a short-sighted way of thinking about the relationship between education and the economy:

Most of what we know about what kids will need for their futures is that much of it will be different than what they’ve needed in the past and that it will change even more rapidly than it is changing today. As such, we must be extremely careful about large-scale standardization and how it may make it harder for us to prepare individual learners for the individual and increasingly dynamic lives they will be living. To this end, Civics seem to me an essential element of the education menu. What better way might there be to learn about how our country works—and doesn’t—and how to make one’s way within it?

Civic education, as more and more commentators are pointing out, is not at odds with an education that prepares students for the job market. In fact, it’s a crucial part of such an education.

Read the entire article here.