Does Democratic Governance Require Civic Education?

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It is known that there is a high correlation between education and politics, but do democratic citizens in these global times need more than just their everyday education in order to get involved into politics? Most of the states nowadays are considered democratic, which means they are ruled by the people or by representatives chosen by the people. The question is however, do people really know what is best for them and the state without any political education, or does democratic governance require civic education? In this essay I will argue that civic education is crucial for a democratic state to function well and its citizen to make right decisions. Firstly democracy will be defined, the importance of education will be outlined and a relation between the two will the drawn. Secondly civic education will be defined and it’s impacts on political personal opinions and importance of public decision will be shown. Thirdly it will be shown how classroom behaviour and class activities can teach us about the importance of debate and compromises. Then the issue of the youth will be tackled, its involvement in politics and the spread of information. Finally the arguments will be put together to once more show why civic education is necessary for a democracy. Concluding with the confirmation of the argument that states that a democratic governance does require civic education because through such education citizens learn about their government, and achieve a better understanding of the politics in general hence being able to make better decisions.

Democracy comes from the Greek words “demos” and “kratos” which mean people and rule. Therefore the dictionary definition of democracy is “Government by the people; that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised either directly by them or by officers elected by them”. From the definition we can understand that the people, the citizens of a democratic state assume great responsibilities as all the decisions are to some extend in their own hands. We can therefore assume that in order for citizens to “rule” their state well, they need knowledge of what a state is and how to go about running it. In the modern world there are representatives, which run the state and get elected by the people. The assumption that politicians will have a good knowledge of politics can surely be made. But they get elected by the people in the first place, so the question we should be asking is; do the people know enough about the state to be able to look beyond the big political personas and see what is truly good for their state. “At first glance, it appears unarguable that formal education increases political knowledge; the more years a student spends in school, the more likely he or she is to understand the political world.” Several researches established that the higher education people have the more likely it is they will to some extent get involved into political life. Education gives people a wider view of the world, opens them to different interests amongst which is politics. “Studies conducted from the mid-1960s on concerning what impact high school classes in American government and civics have on political knowledge have, for the most part, found that there is little or none.” From this second quote we can draw to the conclusion that specific civic education is not necessary for people to have a higher knowledge of the political world. But at this point we have to take in consideration two factors. The first one is that these studies were based on American high school students, which means their level of education was lower that the level of education other people who are usually involved in politics. But the second and more important point, in the context of this essay, is that civic education offers a different type of education. It might not offer the knowledge of current politics but it does teach the base of politics and makes the...
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