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Civic Engagement through Education

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Standing in front of a packed audience at the University of Montana School of Law, Sandra Day O’Connor spoke about her continued mission to improve civic education. O’Connor argued that civic education is crucial to sustaining America’s democratic institutions, according to Kaci Felstet of the Montana Kaimin.

Citing statistics demonstrating the civic ignorance of students—from fewer than one-tenth of eighth graders knowing the three branches of government to fewer than one-third understanding the significance of the Declaration of Independence—O’Connor stressed that younger generations of Americans are in need of civic renewal. O’Connor asked, “How can we expect the next generations to care about, to cherish and sustain our democratic institutions when they don’t know what they are or how they work?”

O’Connor discussed iCivics.org, a program she designed in an effort to correct the civic knowledge deficit among students. By utilizing interactive video games, the site engages students in questions of civic engagement. O’Connor reported that students not only play the civics games at school, but enjoy playing them on their own at home without instruction. Arguing that “An informed and involved group of citizens is the life blood of our democracy and our government,” O’Connor hopes programs like iCivics will continue to reach students nationwide.