Promote Civics in Education for Citizenship Awareness

Retired U. S. Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, has taken up the cause of promoting civics education in our society. From 2010 until last week’s test results the National Assessment of Education has revealed a steady decline in our youth’s understanding of our democratic government and its role in our society. Only 18% of the students tested were proficient in history and less than a quarter in civics. Fewer than one-third knew that it is a widely held belief in our country that we should have a democratic government. Ms. O’Connor is a proponent of the new push to increase the STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and math;  in our society but not to the extent that history and civics are being excluded. She also believes that citizenship is a skill that must be taught over time with the same devotion now seen to science and english and she is shepherding the idea that the subjects can be taught in an integrated manner.

Ms. O’Connor has worked with John Glenn College and Ohio State University to develop systems to increase civic education in an integrated manner that will reach our children. A push is being made to create games and other digital content that will help children learn to use our legal system and understand the legislative and electoral processes thus enabling them to help solve problems in our society starting on a community level. One digital game  created by the nonprofit founded by Justice O’Connor is “Win the White House”. This game puts children inside a virtual election and shows them how to navigate the process in an engaging manner. Another digital creation is iCivics, which is a digital storehouse of information to promote the teaching of civics in the state of Ohio. The goal of this site is to create databases of information that are state specific and can be adapted to any state’s curriculum.

As a homeschooling family we adopted civics in our curriculum at a young age, by allowing our children to voice their opinions without judgment teaching them to exercise free speech. They learned to create arguments that were well thought out and backed up with solid logic and data. Our family also voted on what projects we chose to take on or where we wished to volunteer our time and funds. Each child no matter their age had a vote and they took this responsibility seriously. As my children grew this process taught them to think, formulate ideas and participate in the success of the world around them. I still feel this is one of the most valuable set of skills they learned.

 

The following are six proven practices to promote civic understanding as stated by The Campaign for the Civic Mission for Schools:

1. Keep civics a part of your course of study.

2.Discuss current events and controversial issues.

3. Learn what it means to serve your community.

4. Promote extra-curricular activities that include civics.

5. Create your own school government.

6. Simulate government processes in your environment.

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