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 8: Rights and Responsibilities of Students  
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Workshop 7

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Teacher Perspectives: Challenges to civic education

Matt Johnson: The kids understand and can identify the three branches of government. They know the Executive branch, what their "responsibility" is; the Judicial branch, they check the laws; the Legislative branch makes the laws; and the Executive enforces. But you ask them what that really means, and they don't have a clue. So, they could fill in the blanks on a blueprint of our government, but that's about the extent of their knowledge. Getting them to think about what these three branches do is important, and the relationship between the Federal and the state is lacking, too. Federalism is a concept very few kids understand.

One of the challenges in the District [of Columbia] is explaining the concept of Federalism. With the District being the unique Congressional territory, the idea of "state" is very hard to sink into these kids. We're just really a city, anyway, but there is State authority, and then there is the Federal authority. They're very blurred here.

The other area of difficulty sometimes is explaining the powers of the bureaucracy. It's kind of a dull subject, but they have a lot of authority. Kids don't see that power.


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