For those of us in the US of A, mid-terms are upon us. And while we are all focused on fulfilling our civic duties and thanking the Lord for the incredible blessing which is this privilege, it is equally important that our children understanding civics goes beyond just voting. It starts with the attitude of hearts and manifests itself in the way we live life.
As educators there are a multitude of ways in which civics and government may be taught. A wealth of resources are available to us. But where do we begin? It starts with laying a solid foundation and is built with practical application.
Reading & Comprehension – When educators stress the importance of learning to read, we generally associate this with the intake of good literature. Our children read well so they can understand Shakespeare and other classics. However, reading skills are essential to all areas of life. Civics is no exception. Anyone who has ever attempted to breakdown the wording of a proposition or muddle through the jargon put out by politicians understands knowing how to read well and comprehend what is being presented is paramount.
Biblical Literacy – When learning civics, it is important our children understand we are not acting upon emotion, personal feelings, or prejudice. Instead, it is based on intelligent thought. We, therefore, must have something to inform our deliberation, i.e., when deciding how we will vote for a candidate or laws, we need some objective standard of ethics to guide us. Given that a theistic worldview is the only one in which such an objective standard can be found, we turn to God’s Word for guidance. Thus, we teach them to look at policies, political parties, and/or proposed legislation and see how closely all options align with Biblical principles.
Character Development – As our pastor constantly reminds us, “Christians ought to be the most law-abiding citizens.” Civics goes beyond merely voting, it starts with being a good citizen. That begins in the heart. A love of truth and justice, patience, kindness, goodness, peace, faithfulness, and self-control; all of these must be trained and discipled in our children. For when these things are foundational, then can good judgement be made.
Educational Resources – I know a teacher or two – possibly three – attempted to teach us civics while in high school. Suffice it to say most of it didn’t stick. Thus, as my children’s educator, I now find myself looking for materials which will not only help my children understand civics and government, but will encourage them retain what they are learning. Thankfully we’ve found a few we love.
- Politics According to the Bible by Mr. Wayne Grudem
- Basic Economics by Mr. Thomas Sowell
- Original Intent by David Barton
- The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton & James Madison
- Vindicating the Founders by Thomas West
Application – I firmly believe in hands-on learning. Our children need to understand how their lessons correspond to reality and have an opportunity to put what they are learning into practice. Over the years we’ve been blessed to find a few amazing ways in which to make this happen.
- iCivics (Through the medium of games, iCivics exists to engage students in meaningful learning. Students can run for president, be a supreme court judge, help pass laws, and more!)
- Generation Joshua (Generation Joshua is an American Christian youth organization founded in 2003 that aims to encourage young people to learn about and become involved in government, history, civics, and politics.)
- Fulling our Civic Duty as a Family
Voting season is here. With all grace, I remind each of us to take this seriously and fulfill our responsibility with care. I would also encourage us to use this as an opportunity to engage our children and take a learning adventure. It beings with laying a strong foundation built on Biblical values and is constructed through practical application and practice. May the Lord grant us wisdom and show us how to raise the next generation of citizens.
We’re curious… What are your favorite resources for teaching civics and government?