The Rise and Fall of Civic Education in American Schools
Early in its history, the American experiment in self-government had its fair share of skeptics. Many believed that our society’s heterogeneity and geographic expansiveness were insurmountable barriers to self-rule. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and other founding fathers believed that the answer to this skepticism was public education. In the preamble to his 1779 bill for free schools in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson argued for public education as a way to preserve self-rule. With knowledge of the experiences of other societies, Americans could identify and defeat would-be tyrants. Jefferson further asserted that people need to be educated so that Americans can draw from the widest possible pool of citizens to find wise and honest lawmakers. And since educating citizens would benefit society at large, he reasoned, all should share the cost of this education (Jefferson 1905).
KeywordsCivic Engagement Civic Participation Civic Education Internet Gaming Civic Knowledge
The author would like to thank Gretchen Blauvelt-Marquez and Abigail Taylor for their excellent assistance with this chapter.
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