Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Making Civics Real Workshop 5: Patriotism & Foreign Policy  
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Workshop 5

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Teacher Perspectives: Why civics is important

Alice Chandler: When a student comes to me and says, “I couldn't care less about foreign policy,” usually there’s another student in the class who will say, “Wait a minute. That is important to you, especially if you’re living here in Washington, D.C.” So, I let the students answer that person. Then, of course, I’ll add information or I will send them to a newspaper article or the library or media center to do research. I really have an advantage.

No matter where they go, they still have to be a citizen. Because we have exchange students here, they need to also understand what the world thinks of our country as well as how we project ourselves when we go out of the country. The overall thing is that they need to become professionals. They have to know that if you go into a country and you hear that the Constitution is about to be suspended, then you better get to the American Embassy because that means they’re about to shut down and you need to get out of the country. Also, I try to encourage them to read the papers so that they’ll know the hot spots in the world because sometimes our students are invited to go other places around the globe. I want them to understand that the arts are very important to civics and that civics can be very important to the artist. They are often called all over the world to sing and they are recognized as cultural ambassadors. Often students share information. When the dance students went to Bermuda, one student researched how the State Department gives money to performing groups that go abroad. So often they’ll find out governments are very important, not just individual foundations and other groups.

If you are participating in [citizenship activities] at school and you understand the value and you hear what your peers as well as older people are thinking, then you say, well, maybe I need to get out there and really think about it. Once they understand there is a tie, they will not be as reluctant once they are on their own to be involved with what’s going on, maybe in writing a letter to a Congressman or maybe boycotting something. If you feel comfortable in the classroom doing something, when you step out into the world, you will be more inclined to participate. The more you get them involved, the more inclined they are to want to stay involved and carry on.


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