American political culture runs through civics classrooms, and the degraded dialogue and scorched-earth partisanship that has defined modern American politics is an indicator that all is not well in our nation’s schools. Teaching Civics in Unstable Times: Guidelines for Defining “We” in American Democracy offers a fresh, expansive view of what civic education can look like in K-12 classrooms, and presents three strategies to help teachers, curriculum writers, and administrators turn their schools into laboratories for democracy that train young people for the moral and intellectual challenges of democratic citizenship. This book defines “democracy” as a way of life that is characterized by frequent public engagement, stubborn open-mindedness, and rigorous debate. Our democratic government depends on our citizens leading a democratic life, and civic education’s chief priority is to teach young people how to do so. Civic curriculum has spent decades obsessing over names and dates that fail to give students a sense of their vaunted place in our governing system. This book presents three strategies for teaching civics that invest young people in our shared, grand experiment in self-government and prepares them to lead our nation towards a politics that is more compassionate, inclusive, and inspired.
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