Is it time to rethink how we teach Civics? | Michelle Blanchet | 5 Min Read

January 23, 2023

In light of a sea of political and economic shifts in recent years, it is no surprise there’s been a renewed interest in civics education.  Questions abound over what exactly a quality civics education might look like, the skills it entails, and the best way to ensure students turn into engaged citizens as adults. While these questions are certainly a step in the right direction, I can’t help but wonder if we’re overlooking a critical ingredient in teaching civics: Trust in teachers.

I can still remember being given the curriculum binder for my civics and economics course while teaching in my home state of Virginia. My first impression of the material is that it was: very dry and very factual. As important as it is to learn how our government functions, the curriculum seemed to miss the mark on helping our students understand the relevance of being civically engaged and the impact each would have in ensuring the sustainability of our democracy. The focus on memorization hindered opportunities to make real-world connections. 

It made me wonder: Why such a technical approach to teaching this important topic? Was the fear that teachers were unprepared to teach civics,…

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Michelle Blanchet

Michelle is an educational consultant that infuses startup strategies into professional learning so that teachers are empowered to bring changemaking, social innovation, and SDGs into their work. After teaching social studies in both the U.S. and Switzerland, she founded the Educators’ Lab, which supports teacher-driven solutions to educational challenges. Michelle is the co-author of The Startup Teacher Playbook, and Preventing Polarization (2023). She has worked with organizations like Center for Curriculum Redesign, PBS Education, and Ashoka, and occasionally blogs for Edutopia. A graduate of IE University in Madrid, she is a part of the Global Shaper Community of the World Economic Forum and has presented at numerous events, including SXSWedu and TEDxLausanne. Her focus - helping teachers and students use their agency for social good.