What are our privileges, rights and duties as citizens in our democracy? As a Christian, a lawyer and former judge, I believe that children should be taught more about civics so that they grow up with the knowledge of what our democracy entails and actively participate in our government.
I have heard many judges from all over the United States lament the fact that people do not want to serve on juries. It is like pulling teeth to have people serve. Yet, jury duty is a very important part of our civic duty. Did you know that?
In an op-ed dated February 11, 2019 in the LA Times online, retired teacher Sandy Asper wrote about what she believed was the need to teach children not only social studies, but also a separate course about civics – what a good citizen should know and do. She argued that just teaching children facts, such as when the U. S. Constitution was written and why it was written, is not enough to give them a full understanding of citizenship. She wrote:
“It is incredibly important that students learn that what they think matters, and how to determine what they think by researching and learning. It’s critical that they understand the importance of taking action and learning how to do it. It’s crucial to our country that students learn how to communicate; how to write letters, text, call, march, take part in elections, join, organize. In other words, they learn how to become an actual citizen.”
I couldn’t agree more with Ms. Asper’s view. Moreover, I would add other subjects to teach within civics such as how our government is set up with 3 branches – executive, judicial and legislative - both nationally and locally, and the important duty of serving on a jury.
To raise children who are active in their community, we must teach them the importance of what it means to be a citizen. Only then will we have more participation in what our government does and what it looks like.