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Author Topic: Should civic education programs ask students whether government is necessary?  (Read 4648 times)
CIVNET
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« on: December 17, 2009, 07:40:18 PM »

Should civic education programs ask students whether government is necessary?
« Last Edit: December 21, 2009, 11:45:56 AM by CIVNET » Logged
John
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2009, 01:53:42 PM »

To most people (at least judging by the votes to date), the answer to the question might seem self-evident: of course we should ask students whether government is necessary. It is a first step in having them examine the rationale for government in the first place. I suspect that some people, in answering the posed question in the negative, just assume that we should affirm that government is necessary and that students should understand that on its face. But if we want students to be independent thinkers and informed about the organizing principles of their political system we need to have them consider fundamental questions with as few preconceived notions as possible, and this is as fundamental a question as one can get in the field of education for democracy.
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adelmorocco
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2010, 03:12:44 PM »

        Yes, they should. Students should be familiarized with the rationale behind having governments, and that's part of what civic education programs, e.g. Project Citizen, aim at. Talking about governments and politics used to be taboo in some countries, but now things are changing positively. Therefore, raising people's awareness, namely students'  remains of paramount importance to any democracy or country. Students are first of all citizens with rights and duties, and it's their duty to keep and encourage their government, especially if they're doing well, evaluate, suggest alternative solutions and even react to some officials' policies defects.
Adil Bentahar
Moroccan Center for Civic Education, MCCE
Regional Coordinator, Southern Morocco
High school teacher of English, Agadir, Morocco
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civicblogger
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2010, 04:14:16 PM »

I would like to add a few thoughts on why it might be a good idea civic education curriculum to ask students to consider why government is necessary. Students might be asked to imagine what life would be life without government. What do they think it would be like? This might be a kind of Rorschach test of their concerns and point teachers to ways of dealing with these concerns. It also asks students indirectly about their view of human nature. Do we need government because people are basically greedy and violent? Or do we need it primarily because of the vital things people can’t do, or can’t do well, by themselves? What might answers to this question say about students’ knowledge of the answers found in primary sources of their culture that might suggest further civic education teaching? Students might benefit in being asked this question what roles that rules in general as well as those rules we call laws play in society? Why they might find rules to be important and interesting will help them to contemplate why government is necessary.
 
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kurtwt
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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2010, 03:59:02 PM »

All these questions were answered in the federalist and anti-federalist papers. This is not a new argument. The fact that the history of this argument has been wiped form the education system makes it necessary to argue it again and again. and make the same mistakes over and over again and again.

If you do not know history you are damned to repeat it. So is seems to me that the only people that would like for us to repeat history or the ones that profit from its repetitive failings.

Bottom line, follow the money to the ones that pull the strings. education used to be wonderful, when it was controlled by the community from which the children came. NOW it is controlled by ... hell only knows.
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JonFruge
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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2010, 04:20:48 PM »

I think it is a good question.  It naturally leads into a discussion of what the governments role should or shouldn't be.  I think very broad theoretical questions like that can be a very good teaching tool. 

If a student answers there shouldn't be a government it makes for a nice debate about the vacuum of power that having no government leaves.
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ghoti
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2010, 05:15:20 AM »

Let's not just stop there. Civic education programs should ask whether everything is necessary. The questions gets to the root of why things exist (or why they shouldn't). Try asking if traffic signals are necessary, for example. Some experiences in Denmark recently gave a rather counter-intuitive answer to this, and yet the question is never asked.

Once the class has decided government is necessary (if they in fact do decide that way), this brings on an interesting follow up question:

"Is the government we have now meeting our needs as you just described them? Or is it doing something else that we don't need?"
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