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Our Students Are Failing Civics

George WashingtonHere’s a statistic that is hard to believe: 93% of eight graders cannot correctly identify the three branches of government. But these are the stats provided by the 2010 National Assessment of Education Program test. The apples do not far from the tree. Adults struggle too.

Surveys show that fewer than half of U.S. adults can name the three branches of government — executive, legislative, and judicial. But I suspect if you are reading this blog you already know that. I really believe that the key to teaching history in a meaningful way is to get the dates, geography and facts down. I know the modern approach is kids should be immersed in rich stories that history provides instead of getting bogged down in the dates and places. But the rich stories don’t matter much without context. If you understand what was going on in the world in 1775, Paul Revere’s ride becomes a lot more interesting.

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