Monday, March 22, 2021

Civil Civics

Old Glory
photo credit: US Air Force, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Just when the need is great, this month more than 300 educators from across the United States delivered a report and roadmap targeted to enhance Educating for American Democracy, for K-12 education in history and civics. 

This remarkable effort, involving wide-ranging consultations for over a year, resulted from the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the US Department of Education to address the serious need in this country for better understandings of civics. This is an ambitious roadmap, providing national guidelines that invite responses for state, local, tribal, county, and district-level solutions to how the roadmap gets implemented.

A key educational goal is to enable future generations to be effective citizens and decision-makers, by seeing their part in shaping the future. 

During a national forum to launch the roadmap, Harvard Professor Jane Kamensky spoke to the purpose of equipping students "to ask hard questions, and learn to answer them effectively from evidence, and by deliberating about that evidence even with people who disagree with you, maybe especially with people who disagree with you." 

The roadmap outlines a carefully considered approach to improve understandings and involvement in civic decision-making. It incorporates historical content and the stories of the nation's institutions and democratic concepts, as well as considering "people with contemporary debates and possibilities."

This effort to strengthen the foundation in the United States for citizen participation in civic decision-making will be ongoing. It provides a welcome step to address the well-documented need to improve history and civics education, to help sustain democracy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Next Thing?

 "I wandered lonely as a cloud"
photo credit: texas_mustang, Wikimedia CCA-2.0 Generic

Who knows, with Spring trying to make it in the northern hemisphere, and, for many months, nations that had leaders and populations enough with common sense mostly COVID-clear, and opinion pollsters unable to excite us with poll results, and vaccinations seriously underway in many locations, perhaps we can feel okay reading Tolstoy, Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, Muriel Spark or whomever you prefer, unconcerned for now about any next black swan upsetting the millpond?

Maybe reflection, reminiscence, even nostalgia are permitted now? Just for a while, can we anticipate the tulips and daffodils, then savor the tastes and scents known only to the anxiety-free? Let the cat be the one leaping at shadows on the window. 

Be relaxed, that book from 2001, The New New Thing is no longer on the best-seller list. Rest-[what a great word]-assured, we will be able to get through moments of zen or other peace, and never miss that other dopamine, unexcited by the not-latest breaking news.

Weren't secret gardens dreamt up for this time? Why let politicians and other marketers of statistics make worry? Feel confident, someone will keep pots of potentiality stirred in your absence. 

Will you really lose your edge by taking a Spring or Summer break (dare we think?) away from the crowd? ... especially with skills gained from a year's lockdown! Why let claptrap now rule your life when some lonely beach or wilderness holds such promise, and might soon be enjoyed. 

Let's hear it for this kind of ennui!