civic education

Ralph Ketcham: A Champion for Civic Education

Ralph Ketcham: A Champion for Civic Education

By

Civic Education lost a powerful voice for meaningful civics this week. While some count political wins with states adding the citizenship test to graduation requirements, Ralph Ketcham led the charge for civic education that was “interdisciplinary, team-taught and driven by deliberation on current events.” That’s civics worth doing and adds up to a political life worth sharing. When I attended an institute with Ketcham’s biography of Madison on the reading list, I was skeptical of the agenda. 761 pages published in 1971 for a one-week institute in 2005. I will, however, recommend it today and every time I’m asked until my…

Read More

Editor’s Note: November 2016 and Finding the Way Forward for Civic Education

By

Returning to “online news” with a fair measure of caution, I read a suggestion to “find solace in your tribe,” and I knew exactly who I needed to talk to in the days ahead. I have always counted a particular network of civic educators as one of the priceless assets of my career. Failing to put a value on it, however, puts it at risk of the same calculation that has allowed STEM education to push civics out of classrooms. All signs indicate that our communities might be more at risk than ever. We need civics. It’s time we pull…

Read More
The Not So Radical American

The Not So Radical American

By

Watching William Gibson’s “No Maps for These Territories,” I found one brief moment in the film that resonated with a million other moments in time. The famous science fiction author wanted to describe his work and to explain why he has never seen himself as a visionary. He said we live in an incomprehensible present and his work attempts to illuminate it. His work brought light to better see the now rather than forecasting the future. That might be a way to describe our work at the National Academy and our discussions on Politicolor too. Civic education has to share…

Read More
My Serial of Boxes (Pt. 3 of 3)

My Serial of Boxes (Pt. 3 of 3)

By

In the previous installment, I overcame my apprehension at introducing the politicolors, and began to share student responses to political theory.  At one time, I had been worried about the abstract nature of such an approach, yet here they were truly excited to use colored pencils in their notes and making connections of which I couldn’t have dreamed. I usually turn up the heat on critical thinking skills once students hit sixth grade, but here the fourth and fifth were sweeping off my socks.  I also found that they were a bit more realist than I had been at that…

Read More
My Serial of Boxes (Pt. 2 of 3)

My Serial of Boxes (Pt. 2 of 3)

By

When last we met, I was explaining my dread, as I contemplated using Will’s boxes with my 4th-6th classroom.  Here was this rich, layered theory, which I still hadn’t mastered; yet, the politicolors had given dimension to the founding, I’d never before imagined.  Could I bring them to life? It was understood that I had a looooong way to even near Will’s grasp.  After all, I’d still look back at photos of the concept maps and ponder the meanings of words written in the corners of the boxes or lines that could sometimes be dotted, and I’d wish for a…

Read More

My Serial of Boxes (Pt. 1 of 3)

By

After a year to digest Will’s colors and boxes, I felt ready to use them with my class. It wasn’t without apprehension.  Although I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and re-envisioning the National Academy (primarily through writing and this site), I want to approach mastery before revealing ideas.  I think that’s only natural with one’s classroom.  All good teachers admit their limitations, yet we don’t like to be wrong a whole lot, and that’s when working with facts.  Here I was, deciding to dive into theory.  And it looked like a glass of water down on the sidewalk from…

Read More

A school based on Constitutional Citizenship

By

Those of you at the second week of James Madison and Constitutional Citizenship at Montpelier may have heard about my school and our work with Professor Harris. Our charter high school was created by a group of parents in 1998 with a mission to teach citizenship. From the beginning we tried to fulfill this mission by incorportaing lots of civic education and community service into our curriculum as well as trying to think about the skills and dispositions of a good citizen that we wanted to foster in our students. However, our efforts felt disparate and we felt as if…

Read More

A Federalist Education

By

Some many days ago, a good countryman you know by the name of Maximus asked a group assembled before him, “what would a Federalist school look like?” His question suffered a long period of silence as those in attendance considered what they knew of Federalism…. Founded on fundamental rights… A new future imagined through the mechanics of science…. A perspective holistic in nature that looks at a question from all sides in all dimensions…. Sovereignty remains with the people who will make a new and better whole from the sum of its constituent parts…. The good Maximus’s puzzle had no…

Read More

Duty Bound to Civic Education

By

With a NY Times op-ed titled “The War as We Saw It,” a group of infantrymen and non-commissioned officers from the 82nd Airborne Division answered a different call to duty last week. As Washington gears up for a series of progress reports on Iraq, this group of servicemen offer their own voice of experience… Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched….

Read More