Opinion
School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor

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

January 14, 2014 2 min read

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

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
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online
School & District Management Webinar What's Ahead for Hybrid Learning: Putting Best Practices in Motion
It’s safe to say hybrid learning—a mix of in-person and remote instruction that evolved quickly during the pandemic—is probably here to stay in K-12 education to some extent. That is the case even though increasing

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 What the Research Says Teens Are Driving COVID-19 Surges. Can Schools Counteract That?
Teenagers and young adults are now driving COVID-19 cases in some states, and experts say schools may be critical in preventing outbreaks.
4 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Climate & Safety Opinion Empowering Teachers and Parents to Speak Up on School Safety
Rick Hess shares practical suggestions from Max Eden on how to ensure school discipline reforms are indeed keeping students and staff safe.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Climate & Safety Audio Driving the School Bus, Waiting for a Vaccine
A veteran bus driver holds out hope he won't get COVID-19 while awaiting his first vaccination.
3 min read
Eric Griffith, 55, poses for a portrait in front of a school bus in Jacksonville, Fla. on Thursday, March 18, 2021. Griffith, who has been a school bus driver for 20 years, delivered meals and educational materials during the first couple months of the coronavirus pandemic when schools shifted to remote learning.
Eric Griffith has been a bus driver for Duval County schools in Jacksonville, Fla., for 20 years. He's been driving students all year and hopes to get his coronavirus vaccine soon.
Charlotte Kesl for Education Week
School Climate & Safety Interactive School Shootings This Year: How Many and Where
Education Week is tracking shootings in K-12 schools in 2021. See the number of incidents and where they occurred in our map and data table.
3 min read
Sign indicating school zone.
iStock/Getty