Civics or civic education is the study of the theoretical, political and practical aspects of citizenship, as well as its rights and duties.
It includes the study of civil law and civil code, and the study of government with attention to the role of citizens―as opposed to external factors―in the operation and oversight of government.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines civics as "the study of the rights and duties of citizens and of how government works." The definition from dictionary.com is: "the study or science of the privileges and obligations of citizens."
Within a given political or ethical tradition, civics can refer to educating the citizens. The history of civics dates back to the earliest theories of civics by Confucius in ancient China and by Plato in ancient Greece. In China also along with Confucianism developed the tradition of Legalism. These traditions in the East and in the West developed to an extent differently, therefore, with bringing in the past different concepts of citizens' rights and the application of justice, together with different ethics in public life. This was mainly valid before the translation of the Western legal tradition to Chinese which started in 1839, after which influence by Western tradition was brought to China, with periods of restoration of traditional Chinese law and influence by Soviet law; specific is the common ordinary language used in Chinese laws which has a significant educational role.
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Criticism of civic education
Sudbury schools contend that values, social justice and democracy must be learned through experience as Aristotle said: "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." They adduce that for this purpose schools must encourage ethical behavior and personal responsibility. In order to achieve these goals schools must allow students the three great freedoms—freedom of choice, freedom of action and freedom to bear the results of action—that constitute personal responsibility. The "strongest, political rationale" for democratic schools is that they teach "the virtues of democratic deliberation for the sake of future citizenship." This type of education is often alluded to in the deliberative democracy literature as fulfilling the necessary and fundamental social and institutional changes necessary to develop a democracy that involves intensive participation in group decision making, negotiation, and social life of consequence.
- ^ Frederick Converse Beach, George Edwin Rines, The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts and sciences, literature, history, biography, geography, commerce, etc., of the world, Volume 5, Scientific American compiling department, 1912, p.1
- ^ Greenberg, D. (1992), Education in America – A View from Sudbury Valley, "'Ethics' is a Course Taught By Life Experience." Retrieved June 25, 2010.
- ^ Greenberg, D. (1987), The Sudbury Valley School Experience, "Teaching Justice Through Experience." Retrieved June 25, 2010.
- ^ Greenberg, D. (1992), Education in America – A View from Sudbury Valley, "Democracy Must be Experienced to be Learned." Retrieved June 25, 2010.
- ^ Greenberg, D. (1987) Chapter 35, "With Liberty and Justice for All," Free at Last – The Sudbury Valley School. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
- ^ Bynum, W.F. and Porter, R. (eds) (2005) Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations. Oxford University Press. 21:9.
- ^ Greenberg, D. (1987) The Sudbury Valley School Experience "Back to Basics – Moral basics." Archived 2011-05-11 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
- ^ Curren, R. (2007) Philosophy of Education: An Anthology. Blackwell Publishing. p. 163.