I agree to Idea Proper Civics Education
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I disagree to Idea Proper Civics Education

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Proper Civics Education

Currently, students in high school only take half a credit on civics education. Civics education and training students to be active, engaged citizens should be a full credit course.

Submitted by 1 year ago

Comments (41)

  1. I seem to be the only person to disagree with this. My reason is that I highly doubt another half credit will suddenly turn people into responsible voters.

    1 year ago
    4 Agreed
    3 Disagreed
    1. I've changed my vote because I also don't see the harm in doing so.

      1 year ago
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    2. Its more than VOTING!

      1 year ago
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    3. It is absolutely more than voting. And it is absolutely more than just schooling. Even once out of school, citizens should be constantly reminded about respect to others, equality of people, to educate rather than punish, to re-educate criminals instead of taking revenge on them, that life is sacred and killing is wrong, that everyone participates in a democraticy (we are all in this together), and so much more. The results of turning people into good citizens would have repercussion on society that beyond any wildest dream.

      11 months ago
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  2. More important than this is to educate every student in Finance! Budgets, debt, allowances, value for money, integrity, RRSP, TFSA, RESP, RDSP, scam artists, interest, dividends, income, cash flow, honesty, integrity, etc. Numbers rule!!

    1 year ago
    9 Agreed
    2 Disagreed
    1. I completely agree that financial literacy is very important, but to say that it's more important than civic education is an insult to what it means to be a member of a political community. Are we consumers first? No, we are citizens. And so while we need not choose between civic education and financial literacy, it would be very problematic to assign greater importance to financial literacy.

      11 months ago
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  3. Jon

    I used to teach Civics in the United States and the results were pretty astounding. I used to ask them to write down whether they were Republican or Democrat before the course, then did the same after the course. Over 60% of them changed their mind after the course was over.

    1 year ago
    3 Agreed
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  4. I TA'd 2 civics classes in high school. These kids knew nothing when they came in, and still had a dearth of knowledge left to learn when they left. It needs to be more thorough and taught by someone excited about it.

    1 year ago
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    1. "...a dearth of knowledge left to learn..."

      Huh?? And you were a TA for the course? Yikes.

      1 year ago
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  5. I agree with Teddy and Gord. Having informed citizens is important, but we also have a glut of students coming from high schools without the necessary financial tools to understand how our economy works and to survive, the math and science tools to innovate and bring this province into the 21st century, and the English skills to be ready for university or the workplace. I am a recent university grad and saw no problem with my peers engagement in the political process and challenging the system through 4 years of getting my degree; the problem most have now is, even with their degree, they don't have skills for a 21st century workforce and society.

    In most of the suggestions on this platform (not only in this post), the "I wants" have a cost. I'd encourage all posters to think about this - what resource should be used to compensate for their wishes? In this case, students will graduate with 1 part less {science, math, phys ed, English, music, tech, etc.} qualifications.

    Is this worth the cost?

    1 year ago
    2 Agreed
    1 Disagreed
    1. There are a few comments about the importance of financial literacy on this thread. It seems to me that implicit in bringing up financial literacy is something along the lines of the following:

      "We should not increase time spent on civic education, because we should increase time on financial education."

      I believe it is possible to improve both kinds of education and so it is inappropriate to prevent the improvement of one for the sake of the other.

      Your comment has the added implication that you saw your peers engage with the political system adequately. I would point out that because you were in University, there`s already an immediately higher likelihood that your peers will engage with the system. However, those who do not engage in post-secondary education, those who do not live in urban centres, etc. are not nearly as likely. Civics education in high school (for many of them) will be the last formal opportunity for this kind of learning.

      11 months ago
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  6. I tend to disagree with Ted Boragina. Society seems to have become indoctrinated into this ideology of pendulum swing logic. Increments and repetitions are what build the fabric of a society and halves, quarters and even nine sixteenth's of a principle or instruction can build the same into the individual, if as in Jon Lawrence's comment, it is done in an engaging fashion.

    1 year ago
    2 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  7. Municipalities should also be allowed to contribute in civics class curriculum for each school in their boundary.

    1 year ago
    2 Agreed
    1 Disagreed
  8. I agree with J Callingham.

    I have been a proponent for better civics education ever since it was cut to a 1/2 credit early in the 2000's or late 1990's. I was lucky enough to have a solid understanding of civic, being a Poli Sci major myself, that I was able to supplement their school curriculum. I also had to do the same with classical philosophy.

    However, I believe that they could have had a much better experience and enjoyment had the lessons been in a classroom with their peers as well. That would have been much more meaningful to them.

    My 3rd child had the fortune, in another course, to have an engaging passionate teacher who was able to lead his students to whole other level than the 1/2 credit course did. But this was in a philosophy class not the mandatory credit civics course.

    1 year ago
    2 Agreed
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  9. I wholeheartedly support this idea - politicians such as Harper can't cash in as frequently on voters lack of knowledge - also so many mis-informed comments on places like The Star - such as I want my vote back after the last civic election - I do hope this is a go.

    1 year ago
    1 Agreed
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  10. I agree with having a better civics education. I don't think making it into a full course load is the best way to do it.

    Also, it would be good to think of other alternatives that have shown to increase young voter turnout and involvement in the political process. I remember in elementary school, we had a voting workshop, made our own parties, developed a campaign, and voted. I forgot the name of the program, but I know it is still run to this day in a few elementary schools (grade 6).

    1 year ago
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  11. The current civics course is a joke. The textbook used is blatantly wrong. Fix the existing course before mandating it to be longer.

    1 year ago
    2 Agreed
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  12. Civics as is truly is a joke. What we should be doing, is bringing the elections into the schools. By this I mean that we should organize it so that whenever there is an election, we bring in the candidates for the riding in which the school is located. Bring them in, let the students listen and ask question. Have a debate in class at some point... On election day, have ballot boxes and require everyone to vote. Announce the results on the same day the actual vote results are announced. Also allow for early voter registration.

    We need our youth engaged. If they vote once, even if its not counted in the actual election, they are much more likely to vote again. Get debates going in class, and they might have some idea of what each party stands for and form a base of beliefs of their own.

    1 year ago
    2 Agreed
    1 Disagreed
  13. Regrettably, I must advise against any discussion of politics other than a very basic explantion of ridings, voting, democracy, and so on. I would not want any candidates in the classroom; and I would not want any discussion by the teachers......because (teachers will, of course, disagree) teachers have a sub-conscious built-in bias and paradigm that suggests anyone but a Conservative/conservative is best. Even when they try to be impartial, questions will be asked, and answers will be slanted. To be safe, keep politics out of the classroom.

    1 year ago
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  14. Have a panel, with the candidates doing the talking, and the teacher remaining silent... And the debates in class could be similar. We already talk about touchy and biased topics in schools as is, and it seems to have worked out well.

    1 year ago
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    1 Disagreed
  15. Students are way too impressionable. I've attended candidate debates in high schools, and they were not productive.

    1 year ago
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  16. What I don't understand is how the ministry can put out a curriculum with blatant errors. Nathan Tidridge, an Ontario high school civics teacher has been attempting to get the minister to respond to this. Here's a letter he wrote to Minister Sandals this year. This is rather concerning, actually.

    http://theagenda.tvo.org/sites/default/files/August%20Letter%20to%20Liz%20Sandals.pdf

    1 year ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  17. From what I see, civics education is abysmal. But I don't think making a full credit course will fix it. It has to be made into an engaging, dynamic, debate-focussed course, that demands of students engagement. Right now it is a joke to my son and all his friends -- even though he's interested in politics. I think that one good idea would be to lower the voting age, so that kids still in high school -- at least grade 12 -- could vote. That would mean a more direct connection between the educational process and the responsibility to engage in public decisions.

    1 year ago
    0 Agreed
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  18. I would not trust teachers to teach a civics course dealing with politics. As hard as they would try to be non-partisan, it just wouldn't work. It's bad enough that they stand in front of a class which recognizes that they are members of a Union willing to throw the kids under the bus just to get a raise. Kids are impressionable and eventually begin to think that's the way the world works.

    If I was a professional, there is no way I would want to beassociated with a Union mentality in any way.

    1 year ago
    0 Agreed
    4 Disagreed
  19. I've experienced engaging, progressive and exciting civics succeed. At my school, we've been teaching the Maximum City program that immerses students in urban design and planning. How we, designers and politicians interact with the city of Toronto is a great way to teach civics. haha, I just think it's worth consideration: Maximumcity.ca

    1 year ago
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    1. Josh Fullan and Maximum City are very inspiring. We need to improve the civics curriculum and find teachers passionate about the subject before we lengthen the course.

      1 year ago
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  20. Having Civics taught in Grade 10 means that students have to wait a couple of years before they can apply that knowledge through the most direct form of democracy available to them: voting. That's a long time to wait between being exposed to ideas and then acting on them, especially with all the other influences competing for their attention. My issue with Civics is not so much how much is taught, but when it is taught. Moving the course from Grade 10 to Grade 12 would make it much more relevant to the learner.

    1 year ago
    1 Agreed
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  21. 1) As much as I am a proponent of people being more informed about politics, we have to think about what wider Ontario cares about: (statistically proven priority) jobs. What's the other half of the civics course? Careers.

    What do we do about that course? Where does it go?

    2) This isn't much of a real plan noted above. It's a few sentences. I recommend you all vote for a more detailed plan to improve the civics education in this province here or at least vote for both: http://commonground.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Encouraging-Youth-Voter-Participation-Improving-Civic-Education/13731-25935

    3) I recommend civics not avoid partisanship, since politics is partisan. I recommend a well-moderated debate where past candidates from each party come in and have a civil debate on an issue of the day, where they are explicitly told these aren't yet voters in the province and they are there to learn what each party stands for. I feel like past candidates/MPs will have the decency to put on a good show for the kids and they'll really learn something. Whether in a half course or a full course, it's worth an hour to do a mock debate between the major parties.

    1 year ago
    1 Agreed
    2 Disagreed
  22. I can't agree with any politicking in the schools....particularly when one realizes that the teacher (or moderator; or class leader; or whatever you want to call him/her).........is highly partisan and will always be makingan impression on impressionable young minds. Yes, the good teachers will try and keep opinion out of it and try to always be impartail and non-partisan.....but for every one of those, there are likely two who would welcome the chance to start "training" those young minds.

    1 year ago
    0 Agreed
    2 Disagreed
    1. There is a civics class now. They admit, within its curriculum, that there are political parties. They give generic descriptions of what each party suggests it stands for philosophically. The class project I remember doing was "Make your own party" and you had to make a fake law (Note: You were not allowed to be the marijuana party, despite that being a real party).

      Teachers cannot hide that political parties exist. Some people grow up in inherently political homes. Some peoples parents tell them "Vote ____ or don't vote." Are you going to complain about the rampant 'politicking' going on in impressionable children's homes? Are teachers less biased about politics than parents? Can parents be reprimanded for what they talk about around the dinner table like a teacher can be reprimanded for what/how they teach?

      Furthermore, if you empower all voices from each party to put forward their own view - is that not giving everyone a shot to hear all sides and make up their own mind? There is no age that is too young. Some kids will be told from very young onwards that they will vote a certain way. Some will hear from a friend on election day, once they're the voting age, that they should vote based on a certain policy that their friend cares about. You cannot escape bias. They will be trained, but by who? I'd rather let a lot of people tell them their opinions so that they're not influenced any particular way without a fair shot for the others.

      1 year ago
      0 Agreed
      1 Disagreed
  23. I.e. If you'd like to abolish civics as it exists now and pretend that kids will never hear biased opinions on political issues, you'll need to write a starkly different policy than just disagreeing with the one above.

    1 year ago
    1 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  24. This would be an opportunity to include education on "how to be a good citizen". To respect each other, to respect other's property, to shun violence, to be a team member instead of "all for me".....and so on.

    1 year ago
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    1. Another reason why NOT to do this in the high schools. Teachers' conduct differs markedly from the very values you are touting. I don't disagree with any of those ideals but it seems more likely that those could be better learned in church or similar.

      1 year ago
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  25. Thanks for the shout out for my policy Shane! I agree that we can do a lot more to improve Civics class, so I certainly agree with the spirit this policy. If you agree that we need to do more to support youth civic engagement, vote up this policy and take a look at mine on allowing youth to pre-register to vote before they turn 18

    http://commonground.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Encouraging-Youth-Voter-Participation-Improving-Civic-Education/13731-25935

    1 year ago
    1 Agreed
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  26. I disagree for two reasons. The first is that we have lost a year of high school in Ontario, so what was done in five years is now condensed into four - add to that the pre-requisites required by post-secondary institutions and students simply can't afford to lose another 'credit' in school. As it stands, students already often opt out of courses that they would enjoy and would broaden their education in order to accomodate the requisites to 'graduate on time'. Secondly, and perhaps moreso than my first reason, is that Civics never should have had to be taught in schools in the first place. PARENTS should be modelling and teaching civic structure and responsibilities to their children. The voter turn-out is consistently pathetic across all levels of government, with the most motivated voters being new Canadians who appreciate the value and chance to be able to freely vote. Many adults have no idea how our government works, let alone students. Once again, new Canadians are often more informed of our government structure and procedures because we insist that they learn it to become Canadians, while, ironically (hypocritically) most naturally-born Canadians have no clue about it. Instead of ceding parental responsibilities of civics and financial literacy to schools, I think parents (and I say this as a parent) need to step up, get informed and then get involved in their children's social education.

    1 year ago
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  27. Again, I urge you to vote for a real plan for improvement of civics education rather than platitudes: http://commonground.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Encouraging-Youth-Voter-Participation-Improving-Civic-Education/13731-25935

    They have similar thrusts, but the other one is actually a policy.

    1 year ago
    0 Agreed
    1 Disagreed
  28. I took Civics just a year and a half ago - the reason it didn't matter to me? It was BORING! For most of us high-schoolers, its a class to snooze through because we have to - and I had a pretty good teacher, too! I think if the curriculum was better planned/more interesting, and the quality of teaching was better (instead of sitting through hour+ long powerpoints every single day without any engaging material), people would be more interested. Not that a boring civics class is discouraging me at all - I'll be able to vote in a few months, and I intend to come the next election!

    1 year ago
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  29. The most important change Ontario can make to improve its civics courses is to ensure qualified teachers are teaching the course. Currently, schools push teachers from a wide variety of unrelated disciplines into teaching courses like civics. From the point of view of someone in the education sector, it is very rare to find a civics teacher actually teaching civics. The consequences are predictable: students' education suffers because the teachers are not knowledgeable or motivated. Ontario has vastly more qualified teachers than it needs: using unqualified teachers to teach courses is inexcusable and seriously detrimental to our education system's success.

    1 year ago
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    1. Rather than use legislation to mandate these changes, I think it would be more helpful to promote organizations like the Civics Education Network that helps teachers become better qualified, share classroom techniques, etc. and create these networks where they don`t exist. Just sharing this organization with a teacher could have the kind of positive effects (immediately) that we`re all looking for in better policy (which could take some time).

      http://civicsnetwork.ca/

      11 months ago
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  30. The problem with the civics is not the curriculum but the placement of the course is in the wrong year of high school. It makes no sense to teach students about civics when they're 15 or 16. It should be taking place closer to when they're the voting age, so that when they leave the class they can actually be fully active citizens...

    11 months ago
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    1. It's highly problematic to think that thinking like a citizen can start when you're 18 and all of a sudden you're going to care and be active.

      Both the awareness of and the skill set to understand what goes on in the broader community and world has to start from a very young age. You can't expect someone to engage as a citizen after half a semester of civics any more than you could expect someone to be physically active for the rest of their life after one half-semester of gym.

      11 months ago
      1 Agreed
      0 Disagreed

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    1 year ago