THE DIRECT STUDY OF CITIZENSHIP
The study in schools of civic relations has been developed to a much greater extent in America than in England. This is probably due largely to the fact that the American need is the more obvious. In normal times, there is a constant influx of people of different nationalities to the United States whom it is the aim of the government to make into American citizens. At the same time there is in America a greater disposition than in England to adapt abstract study to practical ends, to link the class-room to the factory, to the city hall, and to the Capitol itself. As one of her scholars says:
Both the inspiration and the romance of the scholar’s life lie in the perfect assurance that any truth, however remote or isolated, has its part in the unity of the world of truth and its undreamed of applicability to service.
There are in America numerous societies, among them the National Education Association, the American Historical Association, the National Municipal League, the American Political Science Association, which are working steadily to make the study of civics an essential feature of every part of the educational system. Their prime purposes are summarised as follows:
(1) To awaken a knowledge
of the fact that the citizen is in a
social environment whose laws bind him for his own good;
(2) To acquaint the
citizen with the forms of organisation and
methods of administration of government in its several
They claim that this can best be done by means of bringing the young citizen into direct contact with the significant facts of the life of his own local community and of the national community. To indicate this more clearly they have applied to the study the name of “Community Civics.”
The argument that a sense of unreality may arise as a result of the apparent completeness of knowledge gained in the school is met by the close contact maintained all the time with the community outside.
There is unanimity of opinion that civics shall be taught from the elementary school onwards:
“We believe,” runs the report of the Committee of Eight of the American Historical Association, “that elementary civics should permeate the entire school life of the child. In the early grades the most effective features of this instruction will be directly connected with the teaching of regular subjects in the course of study. Through story, poem and song there is the quickening of those emotions which influence civic life. The works and biographies of great men furnish many opportunities for incidental instruction in civics. The elements of geography serve to emphasise the interdependence of men—the very earliest lesson in civic instruction. A study of pictures and architecture arouses the desire