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civic engagement

  • Originally published 01/30/2013

    Could We Actually Learn Something from '50s-Style Civics Education?

    Erik Christiansen

    During last year's presidential campaign, I asked a class of freshmen students to keep track of each candidate's references to history. They needed a basic knowledge of history -- enough to code each historical mention according to the time period referenced. I was prepared to be distressed by my students' ignorance of history, and I wasn't disappointed. I wasn't as prepared, however, for the much greater ignorance of and disinterest in the election. In September, few could name both presidential candidates; none could name a candidate for any other office; only two or three evinced much interest in civic life.