Yes, this news is troubling if only because a flourishing demoncracy requires citizens who possess the requisite knowledge, interest, and fortitude to make this form of government work.
Some blame the curriculum because, they claim, it doesn't engage students. For example, a 2010 study found 74% of middle school students dislike social studies class. Why? The emphasis upon textbook reading, rote memorization of facts, and note taking.
Others blame the teachers for not engaging their students. These critics ask: "Since democracy requires participation, why aren't teachers engaging their students by participating actively in civics classes to put the words and concepts found in textbooks into actions?"
When it comes to civics eduation, The Motley Monk doesn't blame either the curriculum or teachers. While reading from textbooks, memorizing important concepts, and taking notes aren't the best way to generate interest in civics, they are important nonetheless. Civics textbooks contain the basic content that needs to be conveyed, knowing that content is important to the nation's future if its citizens are to keep it a republican form of democracy, and note taking requires using three sensory organs--the eyes, ears, and hands--which reinforce what's being read, heard, or thought.
The blame in this matter is to be assigned to parents. When parents aren't interested in civics (for example, they don't watch the news, read newspaper editorials and op-eds), don't discuss and debate important civic matters (for example, at the dinner table), and fail to exercise their franchise (for example, don't discuss important issues facing voters each election cycle or vote), the probability increases that their children will adopt a similar attitude.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that debaters outperform their peers on nearly every measure--grades, test scores, reading level, critical thinking skills, understanding of controversial issues, and enthusiasm for learning--because they have engaged actively with the material. They've heard it, seen it, discussed it (and, ideally have argued both sides of it), and thought penetratingly about it.
For an 8th grader or a high school student, who better to debate with than one's parents?
Sorry, but when it comes to student disengagment with civics, The Motley Monk blames the parents. Image what civics classes would be like if students came prepared to study the material presented by the curriculum, read the textbooks, and took copious notes all the while debating all of that, not because it was required and would be tested but because all of this was debate prep for the dinner table that evening?
Let the discussion begin...
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Nation's Report Card