Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Civics, History in Schools
Naomi Jeffery Petersen
Civic education, the society-centered purpose of American public schooling, teaches knowledge, skills, and attitudes of self-governance for individual liberty and the common good. As the nation changed from colonial to democratic governance, civic education changed from a sacred agenda for the privileged few to a secular and common experience. Most colonial schooling was informally accomplished at home or through apprenticeship, with church sermons providing direct instruction in civic virtue entwined in moral virtue. Good citizenship was a by-product of obeying commandments. Exclusive Latin grammar schools focused on perennial subjects of eternal truth rather than practical matters like politics. With the 1776 revolution came a clear definition of democratic principles and a written constitution, the core of civic education. Thomas Jefferson proposed, unsuccessfully, that universal education ...