Civic Education: Integral Part of a Democratic Society

Civic education is an integral part of a democratic society. It teaches students about their rights and the limits of government power. The importance of civic learning is becoming more apparent in the current political climate. Americans are losing confidence in their government, and voter participation is at an all-time low.

Knowledge of the Laws

Whether you are driving a car, buying groceries from the supermarket, boarding a bus or flight, or signing an employment contract-it is always essential to know what laws are followed. With knowledge, you may avoid severe legal issues like infringement of your rights and liabilities. Additionally, public safety is at stake. Therefore you should be aware of local legislation. It will help you stay safe and out of trouble. Civic education teaches students about their responsibilities and rights as citizens of their country. It includes understanding how government works and participating in the democratic process. Civic education should be taught in all schools, even with your children, because it prepares young people for their future as citizens of a democracy. A civic education book helps students develop the character and civic dispositions necessary for democracy-important citizen traits such as tolerance, public-spiritedness, civility, critical-mindedness, and willingness to listen, negotiate, and compromise.

Knowledge of the Constitution

Since the Constitution is the ultimate law of our country, it must be construed according to the Framers’ intentions. To do this, one must carefully read the main body of the document and most of its amendments, considering what we know about its Framers’ intent and generations of judges’ interpretations of its language. Aside from teaching the text of the Constitution, civic education should also include learning about the history, structure, and case law of the United States’ founding document. These subjects are important because the United States is a complex and ever-changing country and because the Constitution has changed over time to meet new challenges. The United States’ founders understood the need for citizens to learn about their government. They believed that republics had collapsed because citizens did not understand how to rule. They, therefore, crafted a system that would demand more from citizens and grant them more rights than the empires of their predecessors.

Knowledge of the Government

Democracy requires people to know about the Constitution and the government’s laws. They need to understand the three branches of government, why they work together, and how a system of checks and balances works. Civic education is the process by which children learn to be good citizens. It educates students about their rights and obligations, how to cast a ballot, participate in elections, and interact with others with diverse opinions. Despite the importance of civics education, research reveals that only approximately half of Americans can correctly identify the three parts of government and are equally knowledgeable about their First Amendment rights. In the age of political polarization and rising civic deserts, educating young people about the processes of government, their political beliefs, and the history of civil rights is more important than ever. Various approaches to civic learning have been shown to advance this vital skill, but many schools need to catch up in their implementation.

Knowledge of the People

A country can only be governed by its people, and people who are informed about the political process and their rights as citizens play an essential role in a democratic government. A survey of American public knowledge has found that only one-third of the population knows much about politics and international affairs. In contrast, a third doesn’t know much at all. The survey suggests that people have gotten more politically aware over time, but there needs to be more evidence of a significant increase in overall knowledge since 1989.

Experts in civic learning have identified a menu of approaches that, if implemented well, have been shown to advance civic learning. They include anything from educating young people about civics to providing learning opportunities for engaging in civic practices like volunteering and voting. These teaching and learning experiences can help students develop the “21st-century skills” valued by colleges, universities, and employers.


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