11. Political Spectrum

Civics for All Initiative Pedagogy

The “Political Spectrum”: Pedagogy

  • For secondary social studies (grades 6-12) the political spectrum is a foundational tool for the development of a civically engaged and alive social studies curriculum. Many teachers already use the continuum when studying government and the various political forms of modern world history.
  • Posters provide visual reinforcement that reinforces prior learning, cues new learning, and provides a foundation for the K-12 spiral curriculum.
  • Frequent reference to and use of the political spectrum chart above helps students organize facts, build analyses, and develop opinions. As such it gives students an exciting sense of success and pride in their ability to articulate their nascent ethical/political belief system successfully.
  • Students who do not know the political spectrum simply cannot understand most news media nor can they understand analysis of debates like the liberal/conservative Supreme Court battle over Obama’s health care plan for instance.
  • The use of the spectrum has helped maximize academic achievement and civic engagement for all youth in Franklin High’s Public Service and Political Science Academy (PSA) for 10 years.
  • The political spectrum increases students ability to use Aristotle’s dialectic successfully as they seek to understand the parameters, or “first principles,” of an issue and then develop their own opinion.
  • The spectrum offers learners of all levels an opportunity to succeed and grow within their ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development). Few instructional tools are so flexible. Ultimately, high level learners branch into ever deeper forms of analysis.
  • The spectrum is useful not only for political analysis of say the French Revolution, or the rise of Fascism, or the American politics today, it is also an excellent tool for socio-cultural analyses in religion (say Orthox vs. Reform Judaism or Confucianism vs. Taoism) or in culture (the cosmopolitan vs. the provincial in Athens and Sparta). Finally, of course, without a clear understanding of the basis lexicon of politics and political ideology students are stranded on the sideline when a political meltdown occurs in a country like Greece.