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 It incorporates historical content and the stories of the nation's institutions and democratic concepts, as well as considering "people with contemporary debates and possibilities."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.

1 comment:

Yeronga said...

Civics education is one thing, and mature and considered participation is another. Let us hope that the education leads to mature participation with respect of the institutions that have served western democracies so well.

Social media has created many armchair 'doers', but diminished the number and proportion of actual doers who participate in proper debate, rather than 80 character limits to their intelligence, broadcast generally without real thought and consideration, or consultation.

Democracy by social media is nothing more than mob rule.

Participation means getting into political parties and organisations and actively participating in policy debates and settings, and going out to the voters and actively promoting and debating the merits. It does not mean sitting in the street or on a bridge at peak hour disrupting the tens of thousands who wish to go about their daily lives. It does not mean rioting, burning police cars, trashing buildings. Participation means facilitating those who wish to go about their daily lives. It means respect for the institutions that have worked well for many years, whilst always trying to appraise and improve them incrementally.

Choose your governments carefully, and let them get on with their job over their term, subject to considered and respectful scrutiny. Citizen participation by social media on a day to day, even intraday, basis, is nothing more than mob rule.