06/11/2018

'American Educator' highlights the need for civics education

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To ensure young people understand the values and processes of democratic institutions, we must teach them to engage with their government so their needs and concerns will be heard and addressed. In the cover story of the Summer 2018 issue of American Educator, former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida and AFT President Randi Weingarten contend that a renewed focus on civic education is crucial to helping students understand—and exercise—the power of active citizenship.

Building on this article are reflections by Graham and Weingarten on their past experiences teaching civics and engaging students in their learning. Next, two other articles explore why civics education is important: The first is a state-by-state analysis that finds that although civics knowledge and public engagement are at an all-time low, high-quality civics education can improve voter participation and volunteerism. The second article is a conversation with Weingarten, Yale professor Timothy Snyder and Harvard professor Danielle Allen about the particular need for civics education now, given that our democracy is at risk.

The summer issue also examines the growing body of research on community schools as an effective school improvement strategy, and it discusses the Next Generation Science Standards and how a curriculum framework for project-based learning can help educators teach to these new standards. In an Ask the Cognitive Scientist column, Daniel T. Willingham unpacks the research showing that tailoring classroom instruction to "learning styles" gives students no cognitive advantage. Another article looks at how diagnostic questions can help educators gain greater insights into students' understanding in math. And the issue concludes with an article highlighting the importance of students learning a foreign language in an increasingly global environment.

The complete Summer 2018 issue of American Educator is available online.

[Jennifer Dubin]