IN A CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY, productive civic engagement requires knowledge of the history, principles, and foundations of our American democracy, and the ability to participate in civic and democratic processes. People demonstrate civic engagement when they address public problems individually and collaboratively
and when they maintain, strengthen, and improve communities and societies. Thus, civics is, in part, the study of how people participate in governing society.
Because government is a means for addressing common or public problems, the political system established by the U.S. Constitution is an important subject of study within civics. Civics requires other knowledge too; students should also learn about state and local governments; markets; courts and legal systems; civil society; other nations’ systems and practices; international institutions; and the techniques available to citizens for preserving and changing a society.
Civics is not limited to the study of politics and society; it also encompasses participation in classrooms and schools, neighborhoods, groups, and organizations. Not all participation is beneficial. This framework makes frequent reference to civic virtues and principles
that guide participation and to the norm of deliberation (which means discussing issues and making choices and judgments with information and evidence, civility and respect, and concern for fair procedures). What defines civic virtue, which democratic principles apply in given situations, and when discussions are deliberative are not easy questions, but they are topics for inquiry and reflection. In civics, students learn
to contribute appropriately to public processes and discussions of real issues. Their contributions to public discussions may take many forms, ranging from personal testimony to abstract arguments. They will also learn civic practices such as voting, volunteering, jury service, and joining with others to improve society. Civics enables students not only to study how others participate, but also to practice participating and taking informed action themselves. --C3 TEACHERS