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is a representative democracy, and therefore citizens of the US have the power to vote out individuals that they feel no longer represent their interests or convictions.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.”
I Voted Today: Reflections After an Election with Resources for Civic Education
Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Before this article I had never heard of Willie Kennard. He sounds like he was a real hero and he definitely had to fight for the respect he earned. He was a good man and did the world some serious favors.
As someone who had to wait almost eight years after moving to the United States in order to be able exercise my right to vote, I think it is very important to educate ourselves in topics that affect us not only personally but as a society. By identifying our needs, we can take the necessary steps to express our ideas or in the very least support those whom do we agree with.
We are a democratic country, so why not vote? Why not take advantage and make use of that right that is a privilege to us but that many people had to fight for in the past?
A great freedom in America is having the right to vote. We are not a direct democracy, but a representative democracy. Meaning that we democratically elect people to serve as representatives in our executive branch. After two, four, or six years, if we are unhappy with the job our representatives are doing, we the constituents have the power to vote them out. It is our duty to do the small task to research the candidates and have an informed opinion. As a social studies teacher, I think our main duty is to make our students better citizens, and better voters. We can make them better citizens by informing them on the history of our nation, and how elections of certain individuals have led to the destruction or success of nations across the world. We as teachers should strongly consider how our presentation of the past can affect an entire generation of students. Even if that means telling our students how America has not always been the good guy, we must know our past faults to create a better future.
Voting is necessary for a democracy to function correctly, but unfortunately civic participation is not a priority for many Americans. This past Kentucky election was one of the most contested elections of my life time, however only a little over 25% of KY voters voted in the governors election. Have people lost their sense of urgency and understanding of the importance of voting? Are people misinformed or misguided so they feel their does not count or know who to vote for?
I would like to know the statistics of voters that vote for their party versus the voters that vote for the candidate that follows their views closer. I am a registered Republican voter, however I voted for Andy Beshear. Do many others actually do this or do they just follow their party blindly?
I believe that a lot of people forget that there are things that you can do to better the Democratic society other than just voting. When voting doesn’t go our way sometimes we just shut down because we don’t believe our voice was heard. There are a lot of ways to get your voice out there so use that energy to get your voice out there even if voting didn’t go in your favor. Also just because voting did not go your way once or a couple of times don’t give up on voting because your voice matters.