• A Liberating Intent: The American Civics Curriculum in Illinois High Schools and the Development of a Critically Constructive Citizenry

      Albear, Gustavo David (2011-07-18)
      Civics education and constructive criticality are not usually found within the same curriculum. In America the two concepts tend to be considered as antithetical in content and practice. Students and teachers do not approach education about the citizen‘s responsibilities with great necessity or urgency, and when they do approach the subject it is from the perspective of inherent rights that should not be questioned, since they are by birth granted, albeit only to some. The idea of criticality is also not considered to be part of the developmental need of a citizen, since the overall sentiment associated with it is one of negativity. However, a philosophical analysis of the foundational principles of both concepts demonstrates a singular genesis, one that has been obscured through the erroneous development of a citizenry for the sake of the maintenance of the status quo. This research develops a clearer picture of the state of civic education in the United States through a review of the pertinent literature in the field, including the historical texts considered to be foundational to American civics curricula, as well as the most prominent texts presently in use. The study clarifies this image further through the design and application of a philosophically analytic tool based on a hermeneutic review of concepts, predominant language usage, and critical reasoning. This extension is accomplished by scrutinizing a particular civics curriculum to determine its philosophical similarity to the concepts of the originating documents of the United States. A culminating summary of the results derived from the analysis concludes the study, along with some pedagogic suggestions that should help align future curricular designs more closely with the founding principles of the American republic.