Illustrated Insights: Exploring Civic Education in a Book

Civic engagement is needed more than ever as our world becomes increasingly interconnected. This collection explores the latest theoretical discussions and innovative ideas in civic education from political scientists across disciplines. Educators must be equipped with tools for teaching the values of democratic life and fostering youth civic participation. This book offers educators a framework for creating the critical civic education students deserve.

The Art of Teaching

Civic education book explores the pedagogy that leads to civic engagement in today’s social studies classroom. Its authors address theoretical debates, innovative ideas, and exemplary practice, drawing on research across political science subfields. Designed for pre-service and in-service teachers and easily integrated into social studies methods courses, this volume follows students and their teachers as they engage with enduring civic questions in the classroom through themes, essential questions, discussion, writing, and current events. It also highlights a justice-oriented pedagogy that builds students’ ability to examine multiple points of view, discern truth from fiction and bias, and use evidence to support arguments. In an age where the “science of teaching” encourages the growth of practices like active learning and data-driven assessments, this book focuses on unique elements of teacher craft that can best be described with language from art alongside science. For example, the teacher can lovingly orchestrate the subtle strings of class dynamics and student expectations that enliven each class session into an unrepeatable incarnation of shared presence.

The Art of Living

Democracy requires citizens with skills in deliberation, communication, and reaching workable compromises. These are evergreen subjects but have been understudied in civic education. This book brings together the latest research on these topics. Studies show that despite a desire for civic engagement, students do not engage in the traditional forms of civic participation taught in schools (e.g., voting). The problem may be that schools and classrooms often present a one-dimensional lens on citizenship to young people, focusing on knowledge transmission rather than civic action. This book describes the educational principles that should guide civic education and offers an innovative pedagogy to help teachers meet these goals. It includes historical case studies, theoretical reflections, and a study of the collaboration between a teacher and researcher to design a locally specific curriculum for civic learning in a predominately Latinx-serving school. The book also addresses issues that impede civic learning, such as how students’ socioeconomic status and citizenship status influence their participation in democratic society.

The Art of Thinking

To understand the political world, citizens need to know about the structure of their government, the relationships among other governments, and how their country’s politics and policies affect people in neighboring countries. Good civic education also teaches students how to analyze and evaluate information about politics and governmental policies. An essential component of citizenship is a knowledge of civic rights and responsibilities. Citizens should know that their freedoms and rights depend on other individuals’ willingness to assume corresponding responsibilities. This knowledge is reflected in the core documents of American constitutional democracy. To develop an understanding of citizenship, teachers should use various teaching methods that include classroom discussions, reading and studying primary sources, and conducting research projects. The most effective way to teach these skills is through a deliberative pedagogy that promotes active participation and critical thinking. This book introduces this pedagogy, describes how to implement it in classrooms, and offers examples of student work.