The Rules of Society

Civic literacy is the ability to understand the rules that organize our society, how those rules came to be, and how they can be changed. It is the understanding of history as the constant struggle of people to be seen, heard, and valued. In the not-too-distant past, civics education built the skills needed to develop informed opinions, hold decision-makers accountable, build community, and organize for change.

This aspect of education struggles to survive, however, as civics for adults has been legislated down to narrowly-defined citizenship education measured by economic outcomes. Yet civics is more relevant than ever, as there are civic questions and problems to address in every area of adult life. Rather than being siloed in a citizenship prep class civics questions could, for example, be part of the work readiness curriculum: What kinds of jobs do we want in our communities and who decides? What should we do to ensure living wages in the sectors that are creating the most jobs (retail, service, etc.)? Such questions would engage us in thinking about the system of work, not just preparing for it uncritically. Read more…