What Kind of Civics Education Should Americans Get?

Americans are woefully under-educated when it comes to how our own government works. And this makes it really easy to manipulate citizens.  I was appalled to read that only 1 in 4 people can name the three branches of government:  Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  A few days ago I read that somebody said the House and Senate were two separate branches.  What are we teaching our children???  Or rather, what are we not teaching them?

Today’s big argument from the right is about whether or not our children should learn the true history of the United States, warts and all.  Some on the right think our schools should teach a whitewashed version of such things as slavery, Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow, etc., but I would argue that to ignore the darker part of our history is to paint a false picture and to doom us to repeat those mistakes.

TokyoSand has written an eye-opening post on this topic … be sure to visit the post and enjoy the humorous clip at the end.  Thank you, TS!

What Kind of Civics Education Should Americans Get?

26 thoughts on “What Kind of Civics Education Should Americans Get?

  1. From what was posted (also correlating with other articles in substance, or lack thereof), it’s clear all-too many write about things they need much readings, consideration, and research. On this, we encourage people to do their own readings, thinking, and research, honesty being the key to being able to separate between facts and fiction, opinions and reality. **Looking back, knowing we received a much better education than today’s youth, I still see the teaching of history and science could and should have been much better, or at least the choice given for higher level classes. Now, decades later, having read, observed, listened, considered and asking questions, leading to more readings, I still see the process is ongoing, but unlike the propaganda we see and hear today, and perhaps, in the past two or more decades, and even before. Thinking for yourself requires honesty, integrity, and patience, reading and researching in your own time, but for your children, it will be well worth the time. **If readers learned the depth of propaganda in the former Soviet Union, which created followers, but those who refused to go along to get along in order to become free were often incredibly intelligent and wise. And those people would be surprised how woefully ignorant most of us are. But perhaps, this realization might wake some people up to start real learning, and not send their children to propaganda camps.

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  2. Pingback: What Kind of Civics Education Should Americans Get? – Educating for Future Democracy Collaborative

  3. I fully agree, and now with the internet since over 10 years we are having the tools to change. I am remebering a movement started around 2009, by an scientist at MIT, it was called “OLPC – One Laptop per Child”. For children in Africa. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Laptop_per_Child
    Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard from it in a few years. It would have been so easy to make such $ 100 laptops available to children in need, in our western world. Michael

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    • Thank you for sharing that, Michael! I had not heard of this initiative but it is such a great idea! I’m just sorry it didn’t work out … it seems, as you say, that it would have been easy to make inexpensive laptops for children in poor nations. Sigh.

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  4. I don’t know what the answer is here Jill except to have civics lessons quite young where the class can be divided into the different groups of Government. Fun classes stick in the memory more. They must be sure to teach about bipartisanship and see whether thy can actually cooperate..
    Cwtch

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    • I don’t know, either, but I know that we are becoming a nation of ignorance, a nation of people who do not seem to care a whit about facts, about right vs wrong, about how the nation is being run. This is a recipe for disaster … ignorance is NOT bliss, but is rather an open invitation to being lied to, taken advantage of, used & abused. Sigh.
      Cwtch

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  5. Power-hungry con artists count on the ignorance of the easily manipulated masses, without whom there would be no such threat to democracy as Trumpism and blatant far-right extremism. I am not optimistic about the future of America (the clip at the end is “on the money”).

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    • That’s for sure, and the disinformation networks are ever-expanding, becoming easier to access than actual facts! Like you, I’m not optimistic about the future of this nation … we have far too many people who are willing to turn their brains to mush with television and social media, who don’t care to participate in the governance of the nation, who will believe whatever lie their favourite character tells today. And, as you say, the nation as a whole seems to value profit over people.

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  6. Jill, while our top folks can compete education-wise (while trailing in some areas), America lags others in education for everyone else. We are the United States of Entertainment. We just don’t care to stay in tune with real news or know what makes things work. The last time I checked we ranked in the twenties in math and science. Keith

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    • Agreed. I did a piece a couple of years ago about the citizenship test for immigrants seeking citizenship, and was amazed that only some 30% of natural born U.S. citizens could pass the test! This is pathetic! I knew more about our government when I was 6 years old than some adults today know! We must do something about this! In part, I blame social media that seems to take control of people’s minds, makes information AND disinformation altogether too easy. But, when somebody claims the Senate isn’t part of Congress, then we’ve got big problems!

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        • So did I, from an early age. I remember 7th grade, even remember the teacher’s name: Mr. Valent … because he was so passionate about the subject! And then in college, I had a PoliSci prof, Joe Scolnick, who also instilled a love of all things political/international. We need more teachers who inspire, not just recite facts and figures! Amazing how I can remember those names and even their faces, but I cannot remember why I just came into the kitchen!

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          • Jill, Mr. Franks was mine in 9th grade. Ms. Markowitz in high school. I cannot remember my freshman college professor, but he was very interesting. I recall him defining the UK monarchy has “ceremonial mascots” since they had no real power. Keith

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            • Just goes to show what a difference a teacher can make in a child’s life, their future. The ones I best remember had an obvious passion for the subject they were teaching and it came through.

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