What is civics education?
Civics education encompasses several topics, all aimed at helping individuals prepare to be active and informed members of society. Civic education topics may include history, government, human rights, and more. In “How Not to Teach American History,” David Davenport writes:
The Founders understood that a free republic would only work if an informed citizenry supported it and education was high on their agenda. More recently, President Ronald Reagan, in his farewell message, warned of the need to return the teaching of civics and history to develop “an informed patriotism.” Sociologist James Loewe, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, reminds us that, “We aren’t just learning about the past to satisfy our curiosity—we are learning about the past to do our jobs as Americans.”
Why is it so important to begin a civics education so early?
When faced with controversial ideas, misguided theories, or false information, “lawnmower” parent and leaders would rather remove any potential obstacles in a child’s way than equip them with the tools to overcome those obstacles themselves. An early and robust civics education can help individuals gain the skills they need to discern good from bad ideas and prepare them to make decisions for themselves in the future. In “Civics Education: Let It Bloom,” David Davenport writes:
If we began building civic knowledge in the primary school years, students would develop greater judgment and stronger resistance to bad ideas later. If we taught history and civics using primary documents—not only the Constitution, Declaration, etc., but speeches and debates of the time—we could prepare students to reach their own conclusions, not those of textbooks or even teachers.