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Showing posts from December, 2017

Youth Media as a Means of Civic Development

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by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
Last week, I had the privilege of attending a meeting convened by the Center for Information Research on Civic Learning and Engagement titled “Youth, Media, and Civic Engagement in Local Contexts.” The meeting was supported by the Democracy Fund and hosted in Chicago by the McCormick Foundation and Mikva Challenge.

Wide-ranging conference discussions touched on a number of subjects, but centered on media’s role in youth civic development. This occurs in the context of local media ecosystems, some healthier and more diverse than others. And involves youth as both consumers and producers of news.

As a college instructor that guides students in creating issue campaigns for policy change, I am increasingly struck by the divergence in our respective media diets. Like many of you, mine is decidedly “old school,” as I have newspapers delivered to my door and read them cover-to-cover every day. While I sample in new media offerings on soci…

The Icing on the Cake

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Lead Teacher Mentor
Cake seems to be a reoccuring theme in my social studies classroom. Marie Antoinette allegedly said, “Let them eat cake!” when confronted with information that her subjects were starving from lack of bread. Benjamin Franklin noted, “A great empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges.” Who can forget the marble vs. layer cake analogy when teaching students about federalism? This week the United States Supreme Court served up another “slice” for classroom use when they heard oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop vs.Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Masterpiece Cakeshop is the “icing on the cake” of a year full of compelling court cases that can be used by classrooms to address essential questions related to power, freedom, justice and equality. By employing the proven practices of current and controversial issues discussions as well as simulations of democratic processes, teachers can facilitate student inquiry a…

The Fifteen Days of Congress

by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
A chaotic close to a political year like no other provides a yuletide feast of current events conversations in social studies classrooms. But an enterprising educator struggles with pairings and portions, and this post is intended to provide last-minute tips to help make sense of it all before we send students on their merry way.

Let’s begin with recent indictments against high-ranking Trump Administration and campaign officials. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is clearly working his way to the top, and congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election continue simultaneously. What the President knew and when/ if he knew it remain open questions likely to carry into the New Year and perhaps beyond. Yet echoes of Watergate and Iran Contra drum louder by the day, imperiling the Trump presidency and forcing us to revisit the succession plan for our nation’s highest office.

Other than the sometimes successfu…