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The study of government and citizenship is vital to the continuation of American democracy. In fact, producing informed citizens has been at the heart of the American education system since its founding. The effective citizen of the 21st century must be able to analyze, compute, create, act, and communicate in an informed manner about the social, political, and economic issues of the day. The Alaska Government/Citizenship Standards and Key Elements speak to this need, not only through their content ñ for instance, a study of the Constitution, an understanding of the three branches of the federal government ñ but also through the method inherent in the subject. Good citizens cannot be lectured into being; they can only emerge through practice. Therefore teachers must provide classrooms that model democratic practices and procedures while the community invites student activism and involvement.
The study of government and citizenship is vital in a society as diverse as Alaska. It teaches students that differences can be contained and discussed within the decision-making frameworks established by local, state, and national governments. The standards ask educators to explore with their students how these systems operate and to examine ways that informed citizens can participate.
The Alaska Standards for Government/Citizenship also recognize that a part of being an American citizen relates to the nation's economic well-being. Located on the Pacific Rim, Alaska's children must also be prepared for responsible participation in the economic opportunities that our location allows. Today's students will be asked to develop jobs and a diversified economy for tomorrow.
Like all social studies, the study of Government works best when taught in the context of the students' lives and of other information they have learned. Therefore, the Government/ Citizenship Standards incorporate concepts often associated with other disciplines. For instance, Standard A (the purpose of government) and Standard C (the character of state government) include key elements relating to anthropology, sociology, psychology, and multicultural education. Standard F (United States and Alaskan economies) and Standard G (economic choices) relate to the study of economics.
The standards are further integrated with history and geography standards by the cross-cutting unifying principles that apply to all: the record of human experience, civic competence and global stewardship, and cognitive and social skills and processes (please refer to the beginning of this chapter.)
Perhaps the most direct approach to the integration of government concepts with those of other social sciences and disciplines is a theme approach to curriculum development. Refer to the Social Studies Instructional Methods and District Curriculum Development Chapters for ideas and suggestions on this topic.Previous Page | Social Studies Contents | Next Page