Seattle Schools Community Forum: “Civics – How Will Your Child Learn to Think?”

May 12, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Civics – How Will Your Child Learn to Think?

There’s a great teacher at McClure Middle School,Web Hutchins, who taught civics at Franklin for years.  He recently had an article, Groomed for Citizenship,  published in the April 2012 edition of Educational Leadership magazine.  It was about his initiative, Civics for All.   He joins others like former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, who has her own civics initiative, iCivics.

Civics for All states:

The Civics for All Initiative proposes to make Seattle the model civics education city for the nation. Civics instruction insocial studies classes would be increased in all grades. The policy proposal also calls for K-12 civics instructional awareness “across the curriculum”in Seattle’s public schools, as well as media literacy skills related to citizenship. Currently, in the social studies, the Seattle School District requires civics instruction only in 5th, 7th, 8th, and 12th grade (one semester).

Some thoughts on how to integrate civics in the school day:

Even a revamped social studies effort cannot tackle this “civics deficit” alone: all teachers are needed. For example: a) math might include lessons on wages, taxes, and the deficit; b) foreign languages might cover immigration issues; c) science could frame environmental issues within their political contexts; d) and language arts could help with media literacy skills, by, like analysis of coverage of the Trayvon Martin controversy. 

He is dead-on about how civics and political discussion engage students as almost no other subject can.

It is a thoughtful proposal that needs support in Seattle schools.