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  Workshop 3: Public Policy & the Federal Budget  
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Workshop 3

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Teacher Perspectives: Connecting constructivism and civics

Leslie Martin: Being a citizen is so much more complex than going to the voting booth and punching a card. It involves gathering information, making informed decisions, listening to the talking heads, listening to people that you respect, analyzing that information, understanding compromise, understanding who is going to be the best person to represent you, and then making a choice. I believe constructivist strategies create the best citizens because they involve reading, analyzing, talking, listening, and making choices in a structured and safe environment. I am constantly appalled by the [low] level of participation in our government. The roles of being a citizen are many and diverse, and if we can’t help students to learn that in schools, we are not doing our jobs. I start off the semester where I teach civics by asking my students, “What is the purpose of education?” They say to know more stuff, to be well rounded, to go to college. I remind them that ultimately the purpose of education is to make good citizens. Yes, you have to take a test. Yes, you have to write papers, but ultimately I will achieve my goal if you are a good citizen in terms of all of the different things that it means. I emphasize to them that if you want to change the world, which everyone should, you have to know how to do it and that’s what I am going to teach.


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