Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Teaching the Responsibilities of Citizenship

Teaching the Responsibilities of Citizenship. This is an ERIC Digest from 1991. While not geared specifically towards history, it does have good ideas for teaching about citizenship in the USA. And a good knowledge base of history is a definite need for anyone who is going to become a good citizen.

From the site:

Education for citizenship in a constitutional democracy has been a long-standing goal of schools in the United States. To achieve this goal, students must learn their civil rights and responsibilities in a free society. This ERIC Digest discusses (1) the importance of teaching about the responsibilities of citizenship, (2) deficiencies in learning about responsible citizenship, (3) how to improve learning about responsible citizenship at home, (4) how to improve learning about responsible citizenship at school, and (5) where to obtain information and materials about how to teach responsible citizenship.

WHY SHOULD WE TEACH THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF CITIZENSHIP?

Civil rights and liberties, claims based on law, are enforceable through the judicial system (e.g., the individual's right to freely express public policy preferences, to vote in a public election, or to have a trial by jury). By contrast, responsibilities of citizenship are obligations to contribute to the common good by performing duties to benefit the community (e.g., the individual's responsibility to become informed about public policies, to vote in public elections, or to serve willingly as a juror).

The preservation of civil rights and liberties is linked to performance of responsibilities. For example, the right of political participation means little when most citizens fail to exercise it. Furthermore, the right to free expression of political ideas is diminished when individuals do not gain knowledge about government. Responsibilities of citizenship--such as voluntary service to the community, participation in the political system, acquisition of knowledge about civic life, and public commitment to the values of constitutional democracy (e.g., liberty, justice, and the rule of law)--are essential to the health of a free society.

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