When we talk about "civic health," we are talking about the relationships and types of interactions ordinary citizens have with each other and with public officials on issues that concern the "public good." In what ways (i.e. civic pathways) and how well we work with neighbors, public officials, and organizations on public issues very much determine the strength of our democracy and resiliency of our communities. So, if, as Eric Liu states in his book The Gardens of Democracy, "society becomes how you behave," then understanding civic health and how we as individuals and groups can nurture and strengthen it is part of the formula for becoming "great citizens."
These teacher lesson plans and the resource list introduce high school students to this important conversation. It is not enough to learn about our democratic institutions--how they work, their values and principles, democratic traditions, etc.. It is important for high school youth to be engaged in this learning through reflective and civic participation with their peers, communities, institutions, and public officials. Only then can they become "great citizens" whose actions become a "civic contagion."
These lesson plans can help teachers engage their social studies or civics students in this discovery:
Lesson Plan 3 helps teachers engage their students on "living citizenship" through classroom and personal civic engagement activities by the students using a "civics scorecard" that helps them explore different ways to become "great citizens." The "scorecard" activity allows students to learn more about "civic health" through actual civic participation in their schools and communities.
- Civic Engagement Lesson Plan (Parts 1 and 2)
- Resource list for civics teachers (anywhere in the U.S.)
- Resource list for teaching civics and government in Connecticut