On September 7, ASCD hosted a discussion with some of the most extraordinary people I have ever met. The topic (broadly): civic engagement and young people. As I glanced around the table, I witnessed representatives from The Teachers Guild, Chavez Schools, EdCamp Foundation, Call Me Mister, Civic Nation, Citizen University, Educators Rising, El Paso Unified School District,Generation Citizen, Mastery Charter Schools, NOYS (National Organizations for Youth Safety), iCivics, and CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) at Tufts, along with youth advocates Gabriel Benn and Kwame Simmons, discuss the ways in which we might tap into and support the creative leadership of teachers who prepare, encourage, and engage students every day in their civic journeys. Like I said, extraordinary.
Our discussion led us down paths which were unique to both the current state of civic education in the United States and to the notion that civic engagement and leadership is not a new idea in our nation’s history.
Throughout the day, we talked about ways students engage civically and reasons that they do not. We spoke about race in America, social justice, equity, advocacy, policy, and politics. When the dust settled, we found ourselves asking one question: How might classrooms and schools prepare our students to be civically powerful and use their unique voice to address issues that matter to them?
We collectively agreed as a group that the best way to learn from the expertise of teachers and students about their current civic endeavors is simply to ask them.
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