Opinion
School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor

Anti-Bullying, Civics Education Should Align, Support Each Other

January 14, 2014 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Jim Dillon’s recent Commentary (“The Best Antidote to Bullying? Community-Building,” Dec. 11, 2013) evoked some common experiences and opportunities that anti-bullying and civics education proponents face.

When Mr. Dillon, a leading anti-bullying expert, wrote about teaching students “to support and defend their peers” from bullies as they explored their “responsibilities and obligations” to their fellow students, he sounded like a civics teacher reviewing concepts like “civic duty” and the “common good.”

Unfortunately, anti-bullying programs and civics don’t just share rich content characteristics, they also frequently share the “nonessential” curricular label. Both are often poorly or hurriedly taught, or simply not taught at all.

To surmount this problem, anti-bullying and civics advocates should seek to informally align with and support one another in the Common Core State Standards era as administrators look for ways to efficiently address mandated topics like theirs on common-core-overloaded calendars for professional development.

Framing anti-bullying lessons within civics’ timeless, Aristotelian academic tradition could instantly increase buy-in for both disciplines from students, staff, parents, and, especially, administrators.

The notion that students should stand up for their weaker classmates, for the “outsiders,” harks back to democracy’s loftiest ideals, like equal justice under law, “e pluribus unum,” and “majority rule, minority rights.” And, experience and the tenets of metacognition show that when teachers help students frame experiences like standing up for others in broad affective and academic contexts, it is far more edifying for students.

Finally, Mr. Dillon’s expectation that schools must “expect students to meet high moral standards” in addition to “high academic standards” represents what all educators want, but too rarely discuss.

Ironically, many educators feel that talking about morals is too political, when it is actually within the framework of democratic discourse about political philosophy that we have the greatest freedom to safely engage students in crucial discussions about right and wrong. In my experience, such work almost invariably leads to heightened civic virtue and increased academic engagement for all.

Web Hutchins

History Teacher

South Lake High School

Seattle, Wash.

The writer is the executive director of the Civics for All Initiative and the author of an Aug. 7, 2013, Commentary (“Civics in the Core”) on civics education.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 15, 2014 edition of Education Week as Anti-Bullying, Civics Education Should Align, Support Each Other

Events

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Webinar
Close the Gender Gap: Getting Girls Excited about STEM
Join female STEM leaders as they discuss the importance of early cheerleaders, real life role models, and female networks of support.
Content provided by Logitech
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety How a Superintendent Urged Parents to Discuss Gun Violence With Their Kids
The leader of the school district that serves Monterey Park, Calif., encouraged parents not to "let the TV do the talking."
5 min read
A woman comforts her son while visiting a makeshift memorial outside Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Authorities searched for a motive for the gunman who killed multiple people at the ballroom dance studio during Lunar New Year celebrations.
A woman comforts her son while visiting a memorial outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., two days after a gunman killed 11 people and injured several others as they celebrated Lunar New Year.
Jae C. Hong/AP
School Climate & Safety Guidance on Responding to Students' Questions About Shootings
A guide for educators on ways to foster a sense of safety and security among students at a time when gun violence seems widespread.
4 min read
People gather for a vigil honoring the victims of a shooting several days earlier at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, in Monterey Park, Calif. A gunman killed multiple people late Saturday amid Lunar New Year's celebrations in the predominantly Asian American community.
Two days after a mass shooting that killed 11 people, people gather for a vigil outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif. In the aftermath of shootings and other community violence, educators are called on to help students process their emotions and help them feel safe.
Ashley Landis/AP
School Climate & Safety Many Schools Don't Have Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Are They Overlooking the Risk?
Less than a quarter of states have laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in school buildings.
5 min read
Image of a carbon monoxide detector with a blurred blueprint in the background.
iStock/Getty
School Climate & Safety Students of Color Disproportionately Suffer From Police Assaults at School, Says Report
A new report tallies up assaults by school-based police officers on students of color.
6 min read
Deputy Carroll walks the hall of Rice Elementary School with an administrator on Wednesday.
A school police officer walks the halls of Rice Elementary School in Greenwood, S.C., with an administrator on April 6, 2022.
Lindsey Hodges/The Index-Journal via AP