“The practice of democracy is not passed down through the gene pool.
It must be taught and learned anew by each generation of citizens.”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Due to funding decreases and other priorities, students in America are graduating high school largely uninformed about the basic rights and duties of being an active citizen in the democratic republic of the United States. Civic education in America has been declining, while the need for an informed and engaged citizenry continues to increase. With the prevalence of social media and sound bites, the process of developing an argument and engaging in thoughtful deliberation is not being developed like it was years ago in our civics classes.
Former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Conner, has responded to the decline of U.S. civics education by founding a non-profit, online learning center. iCivics demonstrates how the government works by having students experience it firsthand. This is not only for students, but adults also can jump into any role – a judge, a member of Congress, a community activist fighting for local change, even the President of the United States – and actually do the job. Educational video games allow for concepts to happen to the participants which show a connection between choices and consequences.
iCivics also provides opportunities for students to run their own law firm, give advice about rights, pass new laws, and argue cases. Learning about our form of government through interactive role-playing helps develop the skills to be an engaged citizen, including the use of digital tools to help students write persuasive arguments and read the foundational texts of this country. Students must make difficult choices while thinking through competing interests. The combination of conveying information while teaching useful skills is powerful and encourages innovative thinking.
iCivics is a constantly improving and evolving platform, partnering with tech companies and educational labs to determine what is working to bring students into a more engaged relationship with the political and civics world in which we all live. Visit their website to learn more about iCivics and develop the skills helpful to a more engaged role in our government and community.