How English teachers may promote civic participation

Outside of social studies, there are engaging and thought-provoking possibilities to instruct pupils on being active citizens.

Is civics class in high school the sole setting in which your kids acquire the abilities and information necessary to become active, knowledgeable citizens? In such cases, students must take advantage of valuable, timely learning chances in other subject areas.

Online literature study in English can assist students in navigating challenging debates about social concerns and understanding opinions that differ from their own. They may be motivated by interdisciplinary efforts to produce multimedia storytelling that gives statistics a human face.

Two academic scholars completed the team for the project. As a result, a brand-new tool called Quantitative Civic Reasoning: A Handbook for Centering Civic Innovation in English Language Arts Classrooms was created. It contains valuable techniques for fostering students' civic identity and agency.


Although social studies are frequently given the task of teaching civics, project co-leader Antero Garcia, an associate professor of education at Stanford University, claims that English should be the language students use to discuss civics. It's a strong case, especially considering the well-documented drop in civics class time over the previous two decades.

Civic problems are addressed in favor of English's content objectives.

Gargroetzi and Garcia have identified key elements that boost young civic involvement, such as student choice, research, and online classroom conversation. Teachers use these elements in longer-term projects, conventions, routines, and online sessions. For educators who desire to play a more active part in their students' civic learning, this implies various access points.


The virtual classroom is where civic engagement habits may be formed and practiced. By co-creating a community with students, you can ensure that everyone has a voice, a place to explore complex subjects, and the resources they need to work through disagreements and agree. Teachers might employ strategies like Harkness talks, Socratic seminars, and restorative circles to get everyone talking in English classes.

One activity that one instructor refers to as "getting out of the echo chamber" is when students can participate in a seminar discussion with their classmates about materials that offer different perspectives.

The classroom "doesn't stop at English material," according to Kia Turner, who taught middle school English in Harlem before obtaining a Doctorate at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. 


English teacher Samantha Diego offers space for her ninth-grade pupils in South Los Angeles to "actively discuss what's hurting our neighborhood in particular. There won't be a universal agreement. That's OK too. This is how learning seems. This is how democracy seems.


Civic learning relies heavily on connections with audiences outside of the online classroom. Students' civic opinions can be shared by English instructors' pupils on social media, in person at public gatherings, or by presenting information to decision-makers.

Along with the AP Human Geography and Digital Media facilitators Danae Boyd and Zachary Ruiz, Texas teacher Janelle Bence leads an annual community initiative with her ninth-grade English students called Slamming for a Purpose. Students select societal themes to investigate, write works on, and then polish with assistance from a professional poet. The concluding activity, a well-attended poetry slam where students fight for coveted spots, also doubles as a charity event chosen by the students. Bence adds, "I want them to know that they accomplished difficult things, talked about hard things, and have the courage to do that again.


Teachers who take pride in their job as civic educators are aware of the potential conflicts that might arise from their work, particularly in this divisive time.

Students have a more incredible opportunity to develop the skills they need to be informed citizens when civic education is included in online English classes.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *