CRF Blog

Teaching Government

by Bill Hayes

For our constitutional government to survive, each generation must be taught about our way of government. The question is: What is the best way to prepare young people to participate in American democracy? A year ago, a Bill of Rights in Action article titled Every New Generation addressed this question. (This is a PDF file of the entire Bill of Rights in Action. Scroll down to page 11.) This article tells students about the rationale behind civic education, what research says are the most effective practices, how well we are educating about our democracy, and debates surrounding civic education. The lesson makes a good introduction to civics or government classes.

For a representative democratic system of government to work, citizens must be engaged. They must vote, be informed about issues, participate on juries, make their voices heard, and be willing to defend the Constitution. People are not born with these abilities. For this reason, the founders of this country believed that each new generation of Americans needed to be educated to become effective citizens. How are we doing with today’s generation of young people? Are they prepared to be the citizens and leaders of tomorrow’s America?