National Academy for Civics and Government

National Academy 2017: Questions, Answers and More Questions

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In today’s political forum, no one is looking to start another argument. It’s still true, however, that a good argument can make all the difference in what happens next. Good arguments require connecting ideas. Listening to one another and thinking through a logical framework together. When we avoid arguing reasonably together, we also turn away the connectedness and empathy it cultivates. Sadly, Election 2016 has us all imagining partisan battle stations with perfectly calibrated talking points. One good argument could bridge the gap between fighting one another and thinking together. Good arguments rely on good questions. One good question could…

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Civic Perspective and the Cosmos

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“‘Come!’ said Africanus, ‘how long will your mind be chained to the Earth?’” Before setting out for Los Angeles, the scholars invited to the National Academy for Civics in Government read the Dream of Scipio. It’s about finding perspective. Where you look for answers shapes what you believe you know about the question.  Those chains can tie us down to the wrong question. In a previous post, we turned to a contemporary space traveler to emphasize the point. From astronaut Michael Collins’s 1974 book, Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journey: I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could…

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

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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…

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2009 National Institute

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As someone who has attended two of the Center of the Constitution’s weekend programs, I was overly excited when I was accepted to the 2009’s National Institute.  Of course I couldn’t wait to pick Will’s brain for more and more insight, but quickly I have learned this Institute is much more than that. This institute is a way not to just learn about polity and community, but to also build our very own community and polity. As I climbed  the mountain behind Occidental,with a few of my friends, to watch the beautiful California sunset, I finally figured why we were here at Occidental. We…

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Project Citizen

Project Citizen

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Having been briefly introduced to Project Citizen at the National Academy, I decided to try it out this year.  It’s an ideal, outcome-based activity as much about the journey as the finish.  And the great thing about the finish is that it’s really just the beginning, for students receive the tools to research and formulate public policy.  In the end, it is incredibly empowering for the kids to discover the pathways through which they can enact change. A few words from my fourth-graders (non-speakers) when asked today by the panel what they had learned from the experience: “I learned what…

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My Serial of Boxes (Pt. 1 of 3)

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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…

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A Paradigm: Six Words for the National Academy

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You might remember a New York Times contest to craft a six word motto for the United States. We turned the powerhouse of Academy thinking at the question. Laura suggested a phrase you might recognize… “MUTUAL GUARDIANS OF OUR MUTUAL HAPPINESS” I think that phrase resonated as a result of her work at Monpelier’s NEH Landmark institute. Keith reviewed his notes from the Academy and provided a whole list of possibilities! This year’s National Academy wrestled a rigorous three weeks but still found time to toy with the idea of what six words would be the best represent their three…

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