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Starting Civics Education Early
August 28, 2018
Asking for help does not mean we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.
-Anne Wilson Schaef

"How do you teach kids to be active participants in government? Or to tell the difference between real news and fake news?" asks Emily Cardinali in on online article on npr.org.

"In their last legislative sessions, 27 states considered bills or other proposals that aim to answer these questions," she explains. "Many of those proposals are rooted in popular ideas about the best ways to teach civics, including when kids should start, what they should learn and how to apply those lessons. Here's a look at some of those concepts:

Start when they're young, go into college.
Little kids know about rules.

If you explain the reasons behind the rules, they'll understand that, too. Charles Quigley, executive director of the Center for Civic Education, says children grasp these concepts as early as kindergarten. That's also a good time to introduce the idea of authority, and that people in authority should follow their own rules.

He warns against waiting until high school.

'The knee-jerk reaction to teach civics in high school is too little, too late,' he says. 'What's the dropout rate in some places? Forty percent? Some never get to that high school class.'"

Source: "How to Make Civics Education Stick," by Emily Cardinali, National Public Radio, Inc. (npr.org), Augst 14, 2018

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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Margo SIpes · August 28, 2018
Downtown Baltimore Child Care, Inc
Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Learning to be involved and productive democratic citizens should be a common teaching theme that runs throughout the entire curriculum in early education. Think of it as problem-solving and conflict resolution.
In one classroom there was a mutiny when the 4-year-olds decided the teacher was too bossy. Rather than punishing the children for being outspoken, the teacher developed the theme the children came up with by talking about rules and what to do it the rules were bad. She led a discussion about what grownups can do when they get made about the rules and worked with the children to develop a list of demands.

When children in our center have been unhappy about a rule or regulation, we work with them to either take dictation or encourage their own writing to create a letter. Once we sent a letter to an executive at a neighboring company who chased a class of sledding children away from their property on a snowy day. They wrote, "Dear President of the Company, We wanted to have fun. We were not getting hurt. We are big! We know how to be careful. We think you are mean to
make us leave. We are really angry at you." The president of the company did respond and although the children were still unable to sled down their hill, the company gave a donation to the center.

Writing letters to send to licensing office, the mayor, an executive, or even the president of the US encourages writing skill and develops the concept that citizens can be active participants in their neighborhood and in democracy.

Terry Kelly · August 28, 2018
Seneca College
Toronto, ON, Canada

This is a terrific article thank you.

I wanted to comment about the ad right beside the article. A boy, standing, talking and pointing to a picture of a castle. The girl, mouth closed, kneeling at the blocks (maybe a castle). Man-splaining in preschool. There it is!

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