Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University
One of the most important aspects of being a citizen in a democracy is the right to vote. The U.S. is a representative democracy, and therefore citizens of the US have the power to vote out individuals that they feel no longer represent their interests or convictions. As we have mentioned in previous articles, many people (Such as African Americans and women) have sacrificed their lives to earn the right to vote. Thus, getting out to the polls and exercising our God-given right to vote once a year is the least we can do. However, in order to vote effectively we must be informed citizens. That is, when preparing to cast votes we should educate ourselves about the candidates and decide which candidates align with our convictions and can furthermore work to bring about the most good to our society.
Even after elections have come and gone (Perhaps the results did not turn out the way we had hoped) there is still plenty of work to be done in a Democratic society besides voting. Citizens can decide to run for offices themselves in upcoming elections or contests in the following year. People can also write letters to congress, become involved in their local PTA, participate in peaceful protests or attend city council meetings regularly and provide input on key issues. With this in mind, it is very important for teachers to offer lessons and ideas that teach students the complexities of civics and citizenship in a modern democracy. Below we have provided some tools and ideas to do just that.
I-Civics- Educational Website and Resources
I-Civics (Created by Judge Sandra O’Connor) was created and designed to help engage students in meaningful civic learning. The purpose of the organization and the website is provide teachers well-written, inventive, and free resources that enhance their practice and inspire their classrooms. Here are some other from I-Civics teachers can use to teach about civics.
“Argument War” I-Civics Games
In Argument War students hone their persuasive abilities by arguing a real Supreme Court case. The other lawyer from the case serves as their competition. The student that uses the strongest arguments for the case wins!
“In Court Quest, people from around the country need the participants help to navigate our court system. Listen carefully to each case, so you can guide them to the right place!”
Do I have a Right?
Do I Have A Right?, is a video game that allows players to run their own firm of lawyers who specialize in constitutional law. Players get to decide whether potential clients “have a right, match them with the best lawyer, and win the case. The more clients you serve and the more cases you win, the faster your law firm grows.”
Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.