Civic Education in a Time of Democratic Crisis: Webinar Recap

Earlier this week, the AAPSS partnered with the National Academy of Education for a webinar covering insights and findings from the recent volume of The ANNALS: Civic Education in a Time of Democratic Crisis. Several articles in this volume feature insights from the National Academy of Education’s Educating for Civic Reasoning and Discourse report and Educating for American Democracy’s Roadmap.

Moderated by David Campbell (filling in for William Galston), the multidisciplinary panel—Paul Carrese, Linda Darling-Hammond, Peter Levine, Kent McGuire, and Na’ilah Suad Nasir—shared their research on what works in civic education and what improvements can be made in the contentious current environment to better prepare young people to engage in our democracy. The conversation was followed by a question-and-answer session led by Dr. Campbell.

Key topics of discussion included:

  • Evaluation of the current “crisis” in civic education at a time of increasing instability in democratic institutions;
  • Exploration of what a “renewed civic education” could look like in the current political environment, and how to bridge the deep political divisions that plague the debate over what to teach and how to teach it.
  • The importance of compromise and how to model it: that expressing disagreement with respect and empathy is essential to effective civic learning, as is the development of social, emotional, and analytical skills that equip students (and teachers!) to synthesize opposing views and productively engage across lines of difference;
  • The balance between traditional, knowledge-based civic learning (generally centered on the structure of the U.S. government) and inquiry-oriented civic learning that focuses on problems more immediately relevant to students’ communities and lives;
  • Recent shifts in civics standards and requirements of civic education in the K–16 landscape;
  • How research in the learning sciences can inform effective pedagogy that facilitates more meaningful civic learning;
  • The role of schools of education: how they can help prepare K–12 educators to both teach civics, and build inquiry-oriented skills in their students;
  • Policy levers and support needed to support effective civic education, especially in light of state policies that ban specific topics and content; and
  • How to better connect with students who may feel marginalized or disaffected by the narratives of American history as it is currently taught, and how to motivate their involvement in the civic process through “reflective patriotism.”

A recording of the full webinar is now available below or on YouTube. The panelists’ contributions to the volume, as well as the other articles in Civic Education in a Time of Democratic Crisis, are currently free to access, for a limited time.