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Civics Education and
Home Schooling

Purpose of this Section

Many of the pages on this Web site will be useful to home-school parents and their more advanced students. For example, interesting topics for home-school students and their parents will be found occasionally in the Civic Commentaries section. The Grand Jury section will also provide provocative illustrations of the practice of what one might refer to as “constitutional citizenship,” meaning self-government in practice. The Local Government Facts section will contain examples of how our Country’s various types of local government affect our daily lives.

At times, this section will feature information from our collection of American civics textbooks of earlier times. For example, you will find examples of how civics textbooks of another time defined “self-government,” “grand jury,” “common good,” “Republic,” and the like. Or you might find an especially interesting account of a famous historical episode, or an insight into the origins of local government, or how words such as “Whig” and “Tory” varied in meaning across decades.

Some of the chapters or paragraphs in the civics texts in our collecton will be displayed on occasion. A trenchant remark by Elbert Hubbard concerning the electoral college appears in one book; though controversial, it can add a bit of pepper to a discussion about that institution. Several of the texts have useful chapters about taxation and public expenditure that might illuminate a discussion regarding a comment by one writer that “The French Revolution of 1789, the most terrible political convulsion of modern times, was caused chiefly by ‘too much taxes’ and by the fact that the people who paid the taxes were not the people who decided what the taxes were to be.” Another example is a statement by one of the civic giants of the post-Revolutionary period concerning why “all our constitutions” provide some form of “separation of departments” and the “preservation of clear lines of division between them.” This quotation, in about 120 words, could be used to start a productive discussion about the pros and cons of the centralization and unification of public functions.

These extracts will illustrate, in one way or another, something we call “civic values” or “civic virtues,” which seem to be evaporating. More will be said later about this.

May 1, 2008

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