The Importance of Civics Education in this National Moment
It is more important than ever for young people to play a role in elections. In this environment, civics education is more important than ever. Here's why.
What is iCivics?
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded iCivics in 2009 to transform civic learning through innovative, free educational video games and lessons that teach students to be knowledgeable, curious, and engaged in civic life. Since then, iCivics has become the nation’s premier non-profit civic education provider to more than 7 million students across the United States. Check out this post to learn more.
Back in 2019 it was difficult to go more than an hour without mention of the 2020 election—TV commercials, Facebook ads, social media posts, and endorsements flooded our screens and social lives. But 2020 has been a tumultuous year; it has drawn into harsh light the systemic inequities we have allowed to persist for too long, it has questioned the very foundations of our national economy and character, and it has raised real questions around the role of federal leadership in times of crisis.
The Importance of Teaching Civic Education in Schools
While this year is bound for the history books, in November, we the people who are living through these times are bound for the ballot box. And for many of our young adults, this will be the first time they are eligible to cast a vote. But even those who are not 18 by election day have an important role to play in this national discourse. We have seen this year that young voices can rise up and impact change, that they can claim a seat at the table regardless of age.
This dynamic national moment is countered by the reality that many of our young people have been distanced from their educators, schools, and school communities for many months. Classrooms and peers who would typically spread information about voter registration, underline the importance of being an informed voter, and support general civic participation, are operating at a distance via Zoom and online communities.
In this environment, civics education is more important than ever.
Resources to Teach Civic Education
Below are a few resources from iCivics that aid students, families, and educators in deepening their understanding and engagement with their roles and responsibilities in our democratic system.
These are resources that can be used in distance learning classrooms, in homes among family members, and among student peer groups. I encourage you to explore them in-depth and to share other resources you have found that support robust civics education. Visit http://www.icivics.org and the resources below to learn more.
Remote Learning Toolkit for Educators & Families
- iCivics’ Remote Learning Toolkit provides enrichment activities and lessons to help parents and teachers facilitate home learning for millions of K-12 students nationwide. It is critical to help young people build important civic knowledge and skills to help them understand the interplay between citizens and their institutions, and between citizens themselves, as we all seek to forge a collective path forward.
- This toolkit offers customized resources and supports to provide differentiated solutions for parents and educators:
- For Parents, there are manageable learning and engagement activities that their children can enjoy with minimal supervision. The Remote Learning Toolkit for Families offers tailored games and activities such as our Civics BINGO, which can be assigned to students with our new weekly parent planner.
- For Teachers, there are high-quality resources that are motivating, engaging, and offer best practice guidance. The Remote Learning Toolkit for Educatorsoffers virtual professional development webinars and support networks, updated resources on timely topics such as news media literacy, and our newly launched Game Odyssey, which encourages student game play at home through leveled game quests with badges earned for completion.
2020 Election Headquarters
- iCivics launched a 2020 presidential election headquarters to serve as the one-stop election shop for learning and engagement. As we approach November 2020, this remains a critical time for students to keep learning about the election process, understand the power of their vote and how to vote, and feel compelled to be active participants in our constitutional democracy — even if they must do so from home. The iCivics micro-site aims to provide teachers and students with accessible, interactive free digital games, lessons and infographics.
- One highlight and example is the lesson plan, Voting: Will You Do It?