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Ideas: The "Power" Civics Curriculum, For Kids & Adults

image from www.cinecraze.netWant to make civics interesting and popular again, Justice O'Connor and others?  Forget telling us how important the topic is.  Instead, says former Clinton deputy domestic policy advisor Eric Liu, make it sexy and violent, like the TV show Game Of Thrones.  Writes Liu in The Atlantic:

"Imagine a curriculum that taught students how to be powerful -- not only to feel empowered but to be fluent in the language of power and facile in its exercise.... How to see the underlying power dynamics beneath every public controversy. How to read the power map of any community... There is a secret curriculum that explains how stuff actually gets done in America. In a democracy, that knowledge should be democratized."

Actually, now that I think about it, plenty of school reformers and educators would do well to learn Liu's version of power civics.  They'd learn that power comes in many forms, that there are limits to the power and influence of their opponents (whom they often imagine as all powerful), etc.  

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They might also learn that power, and policy, can shift. Education reform policies in the United States took a decided shift in direction in 2008, and have been blowing in what will prove to be a largely fruitless direction for nearly four years now. But they can shift again, once current policies have clearly demonstrated some disastrous unintended consequences (such as on teacher morale and the ability to recruit and retain young people in an increasingly unattractive profession). Reformed reformers need to be ready with another plan once this one proves, like its predecessors, insufficient. The big uncertainty is with regard to how many years students will have to suffer the effects of this misguidance before those wealthy individuals erroneously initiating the policies learn a little more at the expense of the public schools their children don't have to attend.

We'd be better off if the wealthy individuals decided to turn their attention to some other area entirely. Very nice of them to try to "help," but they forgot the lesson "First, do no harm."

(Although a lot of people whose projects and jobs and fellowships are funded by those wealthy individuals would have to seek positions in other fields.)

While teaching students, power exists, and how to attain it is certainly interesting... shouldn’t part of the educational objective be to teach the benefit to restraint in some cases? We don’t live in a world, thankfully, where one can simply press the proverbial gigantic red nuke button without dire consequence. - Sarah

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.