American political culture runs through civics classrooms, and the degraded dialogue and scorched-earth partisanship that has defined modern American politics is an indicator that all is not well in our nation’s schools. Teaching Civics in Unstable Times: Guidelines for Defining “We” in American Democracy offers a fresh, expansive view of what civic education can look like in K-12 classrooms, and presents three strategies to help teachers, curriculum writers, and administrators turn their schools into laboratories for democracy that train young people for the moral and intellectual challenges of democratic citizenship.
This book defines “democracy” as a way of life that is characterized by frequent public engagement, stubborn open-mindedness, and rigorous debate. Our democratic government depends on our citizens leading a democratic life, and civic education’s chief priority is to teach young people how to do so. Civic curriculum has spent decades obsessing over names and dates that fail to give students a sense of their vaunted place in our governing system. This book presents three strategies for teaching civics that invest young people in our shared, grand experiment in self-government and prepares them to lead our nation towards a politics that is more compassionate, inclusive, and inspired.
Andrew Tripodo has spent the last ten years designing social studies curricula for charter school networks, traditional public schools, and independent schools around the world. A social entrepreneur and social studies teacher, he is the director of the Society And Me Program at the Cushman High School in Miami, Florida.
Section I. New Instructional Strategies for Government, Economics, and US History
Chapter 1. Rule #1: Teach Debate as a Core American Value
Chapter 2. Rule #2: Teach Renewal as a Core American Value
Chapter 3. Rule #3 Teach Democracy as a Way of Life
Section II. Democratic Habits
Chapter 4. Democratic Habit #1: All Citizenship is Local
Chapter 5. Democratic Habit #2: Facilitating Productive Disagreements
Chapter 6. Democratic Habit #3: A Middle Path Between Polarization and Indifference
Section III. Democratizing School Structures
Chapter 7. Practicing Citizenship Strategy #1: Participatory Budgeting
Chapter 8. Practicing Citizenship Strategy #2: Restorative Justice
Chapter 9. Practicing Citizenship Strategy #3: Student Governments that Build School-Wide Civic Culture
Chapter 10. Practicing Citizenship Strategy #4: Student Referenda and Direct Proposals to Faculty and Administration
Chapter 11. Practicing Citizenship Strategy #5: In-School Service Hours
About the Author
As someone in elected office for over two decades, Tripodo’s insight is spot on. Teaching citizenship and the basic tenets of democracy have never been so important to America’s future.
The very future of our republic depends on genuinely educated citizens—those who learn history blended with context, those who are as eager to listen as much as they are to argue, and those who spend all their lives gathering facts in the pursuit of The Truth and are never sure they have arrived. The path to real wisdom is found in Andrew Tripodo’s excellent text.
In an era of hyper partisanship when many believe our nation’s democracy is under assault, Tripodo’s book offers a trenchant critique and corrective. In Teaching Civics in Unstable Times, the author, a high school government and history teacher and curriculum writer, argues that our best path forward begins in the classroom. A thread running throughout the book is a series of thought-provoking questions that invite the student to think deeply about the complexities of this experiment we call American democracy. In addition, Tripodo provides a rich menu of suggested activities to prompt civic engagement noting “civic education is more about characters than content”. This book serves as a valuable guide for teachers committed to helping prepare our next generation for meaningful civic engagement.
This book is nothing short of amazing. I truly hope that Mr. Tripodo’s ideas, especially the ones having to do with service hours, are implemented into multiple schools’ curriculums. I can say that I am proud to have been taught by the author of this work.
Teaching Civics in Unstable Times offers unique and innovative methods of preparing students to become model citizens.