Social Studies

Twitter Chat: Instilling Civic Responsibility in Students

By Ross Brenneman — September 17, 2014 1 min read
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Every year, schools and colleges across the country recognize (by Congressional fiat) Constitution Day, denoting the anniversary of the U.S. Constitution’s signing on this day in 1787.

The proper way to celebrate this achievement in schools is with apple pie and ice cream, and maybe show “The American President” or “Advise and Consent” or something. “National Treasure” is close enough, in a pinch.

There are, however, other ways to address civic engagement, and tonight at 8 p.m. ET, I’ll be hosting the next Education Week and Education Week Teacher Twitter chat focused on that topic. Join in using #EWedchat.

If you’ve seen any news at all in the last two weeks, then you’ll know that people are engaged in discussions of gender politics, media coverage of athletes, and anti-terror strategies. Tomorrow brings a vote that might decide whether one of the last countries remaining in the British Empire gains its independence. All these issues dredge up broader ones of civic knowledge and responsibility.

Lest we forget, too, this school year started for many with a heated argument about racial politics, due to the protests in Ferguson, Mo. One district banned discussion of those protests, while in Alabama, a school suspended a teacher for allowing her students to do a reenactment of the shootings of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.

Students care about these issues. A new study released today by the Knight Foundation found that 71 percent of students read news online every day, compared to 31 percent in 2006—a reflection in part, no doubt, from the increase in smartphone usage, but also that, where information can be easily accessed, students will take advantage.

So how do teachers approach controversial topics that students might care about? How can schools support civic engagement? What freedoms of expression should students be allowed in schools? What duty do schools even have to cultivate civic engagement? We’ll discuss all of those issues tonight. If you miss the chat, I’ll have a recap available sometime tomorrow.

And as a reminder, because I am a company man: Twitter chats are held every first and third Wednesday of every month. You can follow all announcements about Twitter chats, and get links to recaps, by following @EWedchat.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.