Meg Heubeck, former social studies teacher in Charlottesville, VA remains convinced that a resilient nation depends upon the ability to make civic conversation comfortable again. “We’re Americans—that’s the thing that holds us together... politics shouldn’t be something you lose family and friends over.”
According to an interview in USA TODAY Jan 3, 2017, Heubeck has connected with 70,000 teachers across the nation in her role as Director of Instruction for the Youth Leadership Initiative at the University of VA’s Center for Politics. She’s given these teachers lesson plans, board games, and instructional aides to help students to understand what actually happens in Congress. Discussion, debate and compromise are all part of understanding how a democracy works.
The Youth Leadership materials are available for children as young as kindergarten and is funded through a mishmash of state funds, donations, partnerships and unpaid interns. I have reached out to her to find out how we can get such materials in the hands of all adults. I know that as a natural born citizen, I am sure my understanding of the full political process is not near as strong as it should be.
I agree with Heubeck that the spirit of discourse, careful listening, debate and compromise has been missing. Civic education should be a mandatory class for all citizens as it can make our democracy stronger, more resilient, and, hopefully, encourage younger people to seek public office.