What comes to mind when someone says ‘civic education’? Probably ‘boring classes you couldn’t wait to be over’, isn’t it? But what is it actually supposed to be and how can civic education be used for youth empowerment? Continue reading to find out.
By definition, civic education is a way to teach people, mostly young kids, about politics (how the country’s political system works), government and how to be a citizen of their own country. In a democratic country, it aims to raise a new generation of politicians, decision makers and generally aware citizens.
The goal is to make young people think about their own future and their active role in it; how they can make the country better by actively participating in their governance. It also aspires to not only instill democratic ideals, but also to teach about the possible pitfalls of democracy.
Most people define three key components of civic education: civic skills, civic virtue and civic knowledge.
♦ Civic skills refers to a person’s capabilities to think about, rationalize and understand the basic duties of an aware citizen. In other words, these are intellectual skills. In addition, a good citizen should be able to stand up in the face of injustice, take part in the government processes and influence the decision-making of the highest levels of the political system.
Altogether, these traits form the bulk of participatory skills. To sum up, civic skills include participatory and intellectual skills required to be an active part of a society.
♦ Civic virtues or dispositions relate to personal characteristics of a well-adjusted active member of society. To name a few, tolerance to other people’s views and ideals, respect towards other citizens, moral responsibility and integrity. Without at least some of these dispositions, it is impossible to be a thoughtful and involved citizen. However, it is possible to cultivate them by showing a good example and positive reinforcement.
♦ Civic knowledge is knowing what is required of a person to be a citizen and how to be engaged in the inner workings of a country. It includes the knowledge of the principles of democracy and the basics of governmental processes, as well as the ability to compare how democracy works in other countries to your own by analyzing the available information and making critical conclusions.
Good lessons in civic education should engage the young audience, make them interested in how democracy should work. It means to encourage younger generations to be active in the life of their country, and not be just another dull lesson they cannot wait to get out of. Civic education is incredibly important for the brighter future of any country.
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So what is youth empowerment and how does it tie in with civic education? Generally, it is a way to give power to the young ones, to teach them that they could (and should!) take an active part in their own lives. While children are still young, it is possible to instill and mold their ideals, beliefs, hopes and aspirations. Youth empowerment is especially useful to help children at risk: kids from dysfunctional families, young delinquents and generally problematic kids.
In civic education, youth empowerment shows young kids that they can take part in the affairs of their country too. It shows them how things usually work in a democracy and what being a good citizen means. It teaches them to question everything, from what they are taught in school to what they see on the TV, to be vigilant and aware.
Importance of youth empowerment
The whole world relies on the future generation. Depending on what we teach our children and how we do it, the adults of tomorrow will either work on improving the current situation, or do nothing and let everything fall apart. If kids are taught to think for themselves, challenge questionable practices and be in control of their own lives, there is hope for a better future. Some of the most important advantages of youth empowerment are:
⚪ Building a stronger nation. Today countries are falling apart from constant conflicts among their own people. If children are taught from a younger age about the importance of a consolidated nation, they can learn how to work on the differences in opinions and keep the countries together.
⚪ Increasing tolerance and eradicating hate. People don’t know how to hate from birth, they are taught to hate. Therefore, the younger generation still has a chance of accepting people for who they are and not taking into account the bigotry that exists today.
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⚪ Improving the education. Usually, people that make decisions on education, finished school a very long time ago. Therefore, it is important for younger people to be involved in the education system to change it in accordance with current times. Additionally, these changes will provide the tools for raising new generations that are increasingly more aware.
⚪ Lowering the crime rates. Instilling positive personal traits and teaching kids about right and wrong from a younger age will significantly decrease the amount of young delinquents.
There is so much more that can be said on the topic of youth empowerment. The most important thing, though, is that there is no hope for a better future if our children don’t want to change what they see around today. We need to show them how crucial it is for them to be active and aware citizens.
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