We the People The Citizen and the Constitution engages students in mock legislative hearings on constitutional issues, and Project Citizen teaches middle school students how to identify, research, and devise solutions for local problems, as well as how to make realistic plans for gaining their acceptance as public policies. Both We the People During the Spring of , Professor Richard A. Brody of Stanford University conducted a study of 1, high school students from across the United States. The study was designed to determine the degree to which civics curricula in general and the We the People The study focused on the concept of "political tolerance.
It is a concept which encompasses many of the beliefs, values, and attitudes that are essential in a constitutional democracy. Community service is another area of the curriculum in which increasing numbers of students are participating. Community service is in keeping with long established American traditions.
It was more than a century and a half ago that Alexis de Toqueville was moved to write that "Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of disposition in life, are forever forming associations. There are not only commercial and industrial associations He marveled at Americans penchant for voluntary service to their communities and to causes in which they believed.
The experience of getting involved in local voluntary associations, de Toqueville said, generated a sense of individual responsibility for the public good and inclined them to become "orderly, temperate, moderate, and self-controlled citizens. Seymour Martin Lipset contends that These Estimates of the number of adult Americans who perform voluntary services vary.
A study conducted by the Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia Guterbock, found that about 44 percent of all adults had volunteered time in the preceding year. An earlier World Values Survey puts the number of Americans who are active in and do unpaid work for voluntary associations at "fully three fifths" of the adult population.
Only about one quarter of the adults in Britain, Italy, or Japan do unpaid voluntary work, while less than a third do so in France or Germany. The record of American youth for community service is of particular interest and is, in general, encouraging.
In a recent study involving more than 8, students in grades six through twelve, about half of those interviewed reported participation in some type of service activity. Among those who participated regularly, 12 percent gave more that 30 hours and 19 percent more than 10 hours. Almost all 91 percent of the students who participated in the school year indicated that they expected to continue to serve.
Republicanism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Department of Education, Community service can be an important part of civic education, provided it is properly conceived as being more than just doing good deeds. Community service should be integrated into both the formal and informal curriculum of the school.
Community service is not a substitute for formal instruction in civics and government, but it can enhance that instruction. Schools, therefore, need to do more than make students aware of opportunities to serve their schools and communities. Students need to be adequately prepared for experiential learning.
They need to understand the institution or agency with which they'll be engaged and its larger social and political context. Students need to be supervised and provided with regular opportunities to reflect on their experiences. In the course of reflection students should be asked to consider questions such as: Is this something government should do? Is this something better attended by private individuals or groups in the civil society sector?
How might the school or community problems you have seen be ameliorated? In what ways might you personally contribute to the amelioration of those problems? What knowledge have you personally gained as a result of your experiences? What additional knowledge do you need to acquire in order to be better informed? What intellectual or critical thinking skills have you developed through this service learning activity?
How have your skills of interacting, and of monitoring and influencing public policy been improved? How has your understanding of the roles of the citizen in a democratic society changed? The idea that American schools have a distinctively civic mission has been recognized since the earliest days of the Republic. Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and others realized that the establishment of well-constructed political institutions was not in itself a sufficiently strong foundation to maintain constitutional democracy.
They knew that ultimately a free society must depend on its citizens on their knowledge, skills, and civic virtues. They believed that the civic mission of the schools is to foster the qualities of mind and heart required for successful government within a constitutional democracy. Americans still believe that schools have a civic mission and that education for good citizenship should be the schools' top priority.
Nationally 86 percent of those with no children in school and those with children in public schools were in agreement; the percentage in agreement shot up to 88 percent for nonpublic school parents.
Landon, Eighty four percent of America's teachers said "to prepare students for responsible citizenship was "very important," while another 15 percent called it "quite important. When Americans were asked which qualities or aptitudes schools consider "essential" or "very important," 86 percent said "being a good citizen. How justified is that lack of confidence? A brief review of recent research affords some disconcerting evidence.
A record low Sax, L. The American Freshman: National Norms for The Center measures public awareness by conducting surveys. Morin, Secretary of Education, Richard W. I believe this lack of knowledge about how the Constitution functions leads to many of the discontents in our nation and current levels of distrust toward our national government.
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Department of Education is one of the leading contributors to current efforts to overcome this lack of awareness about how our democracy functions. The Department It is clear to me, however, that we have to do much more to keep the spirit of the Constitution alive for all Americans. Currently NAEP is assessing civics. Some pay more attention to the qualifications of veterinarians treating the nation's cats and dogs than to those of teachers educating the nation's children and youth. It is more widespread and more serious than has been recognized.
Interest in and concern about character education and education for citizenship are not new in America.
The two have always gone hand in hand. Indeed, the basic reason for establishing and expanding public schooling was to foster those traits of public and private character necessary for our great experiment in self-government to succeed. In the early days of our republic, schools were expected to induce pupils to act virtuously. Acting virtuously meant more specifically that one should act with due restraint over his or her impulses, due regard for the rights and opinions of others, and reasonable concern for the probable and the long-term consequences of one's actions.
Virtue in individuals then was seen as an important public matter. Jefferson agreed with him saying "Public virtue is the only foundation of Republics. There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest They should not be timid or hesitant about working toward these goals.
The fate of the American experiment in self-government depends in no small part on the store of civic virtue that resides in the American people. The social studies profession of this nation has vital role to play in keeping this well-spring of civic virtue flowing. Character, however, does not come pre-packaged. Character formation is a lengthy and complex process. And, as James Q. Wilson Wilson, , a life-long student of character, reminds us; "We do not know how character is formed in any scientifically rigorous sense.
Those observations and that research tell us that the study of traditional school subjects such as government, civics, history and literature, when properly taught, provide the necessary conceptual framework for character education. Further, those traditional school subjects provide a context for considering the traits of public and private character which are important to the maintenance and improvement of a democratic way of life.
Research also tells us that the ethos or culture of the school and of the classroom exert powerful influences on what students learn about authority, responsibility, justice, civility and respect. Finally, we know that one dynamic by which individuals acquire desired traits of private and public character is through exposure to attractive models of behavior. Coles tells us that: Character is ultimately who we are expressed in action, in how we live, in what we do and so the children around us know, they absorb and take stock of what they observe, namely us we adults living and doing things in a certain spirit, getting on with one another in our various ways.
Our children add up, imitate, file away what they've observed and so very often later fall in line with the particular moral counsel we unwittingly or quite unself-consciously have offered them Because the United States is the world's oldest constitutional democracy, it sometimes is easy to forget that our American government is an experiment. It is an experiment that requires, as the authors of the Federalist Papers put it, a higher degree of virtue in its citizens than any other form of government.
Civic Republicanism and Civic Education
Traits of private character such as moral responsibility, self-discipline, and respect for individual worth and human dignity are essential to its well-being. American constitutional democracy cannot accomplish its purposes, however, unless its citizens also are inclined to participate thoughtfully in public affairs. Traits of public character such as public-spiritedness, civility, respect for law, critical-mindedness, and a willingness to negotiate and compromise are indispensable to the continued success of the great American experiment in self government.