Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Creating Effective Citizens
How do students learn to reconcile often competing notions of democracy, such as individual freedom versus the common good?
Everyone agrees that engaging students in civic concepts and processes is an important goal, but there are differing views about how to meet that goal. Some educators use positive examples from history to provide a solid foundation for the principles of democratic citizenship. Others support this approach but add a rigorous examination of the issues that arise within a democracy.
Both perspectives point to innovative ways of teaching students what effective citizenship entails -- from researching an issue, to voting, to proposing a bill -- so that, as students are learning about the different functions of local and national government, they are also realizing their roles as citizens.
In a participatory democracy, the skills of good citizenship are best introduced at an early age. The classroom provides an ideal forum for this kind of instruction, as students learn how to formulate an opinion and articulate and defend their ideas. Classroom discussions of issues with multiple perspectives help students become better decision makers. When introduced to multiple perspectives, students also learn to think critically and fairly. After understanding how conflict can be settled in the classroom, students can apply their skills on the community and national level.