Civic engagement sounds like a nice, lofty goal for education, and it is. What does it really mean, though? A nice Google search took me to a New York Times page titled “The Definition of Civic Engagement” with some excerpts from Civic Responsibility and Higher Education (2000) edited by Thomas Elrich:
“Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.”
– Preface, page vi
“A morally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.”
– Introduction, page xxvi
I like the sound of that. Now, what does this look like in the classroom? In the coming months I will be exploring the following questions through observation and practice:
- What is the relationship between school culture and civic engagement practices?
- How does civic participation manifest itself in a culture?
Stay tuned for emerging themes and please comment with any thoughts or resources you may want to share.