The authors propose that student-centered discussion and reflection on the attributes of good citizenship and the good citizen constitute an important way to promote civic engagement. The expectations of the Framers of the Constitution and the teachings of Western political thought both hold that active and responsible citizenship is vital to the life of the political community. In this article, the authors argue that a good citizen: (1) has a vision of what their country is and what it means; (2), is willing to sacrifice their private interests for the public good, or rather their notion of the public good; (3) is willing to participate in the public domain, especially the political realm; and (4) will maintain their right to respectfully dissent and to critique the policies of those in power, recognizing the difference between country and policy or country and a particular president. The authors maintain that political polarization can be useful in the electoral cycle, but it is not good citizenship to the extent that it interferes with governing and solving the problems of the nation. Educators must communicate the message that politics and governing should not be zero-sum and that opposing sides must be able to work together to shape public policy.
Nagler, Peter A. and Basehart, Harry
"A New-Old Way to Explore Civic Engagement: Learning from the Past,"
eJournal of Public Affairs: Vol. 8:
2, Article 5.
Available at: https://bearworks.missouristate.edu/ejopa/vol8/iss2/5