Memorizing U.S. Presidents Doesn’t Lead To Civic Engagement
V. Darleen Opfer, director of RAND Education, made an interesting point in a recent presentation about what the science of learning can contribute to participation in public life:
“One concern that has people focused on these 21st-century learning skills is a civic one, because both here in the U.S. and abroad civic participation has been declining. People don’t vote. They aren’t active in their communities. And so people are starting to pay attention to the idea that having students memorize all the presidents of the United States does not really help them understand how to be active participants in their communities.” Read more here.
So what kind of education would help students understand how to engage in public life? One promising answer I’ve seen comes from the Right Questions Institute, which teaches people how to ask questions in order to help them “advocate for themselves, participate in decisions that affect them and partner with service-providers and public officials.” Their website is here.