A recent inquiry by a Committee of the American Political Science Association makes it quite clear that the subject is actually taught in the bulk of the elementary and secondary schools of the various States and that generally the results are satisfactory, or indicate clearly necessary reforms. The difficulty of providing suitable text-books is partly met by the addition of supplementary local information.
There are very few colleges and universities which do not provide courses in political science.
No claim is made that the teaching of civics makes of necessity good citizens, but merely that it makes the good citizen into a better one. The justification of the subject lies in its own content.
It is a study of an
important phase of human society and, for this
reason the same value as elementary science or history.
There is, moreover, throughout the various American reports, an insistence on the power of the community ideal in the school and the necessity for discipline in the performance of school duties and a due appreciation of the importance of individual action in relation to the class and to the school.
In England there has been much general and uncoordinated advocacy of the direct teaching of citizenship, but, for various reasons, it does not appear to have been introduced generally into the schools, nor does there appear to be any immediate likelihood of development in the existing schools.
The Civic and Moral Education League made definite inquiry, in 1915, of teachers and schools. They pronounced the results to be disappointing, though they comforted themselves with the incontrovertible dictum that “the people who are doing most have least time to talk about it.” As the result of their inquiry, they drew up a statement of the aims of civics which in general and in detail differed little from the ideas accepted in America.
If compulsory continued education is introduced, for boys and girls who now have no school education after the elementary school, it is of the utmost importance that the direct study should be included in some form or other before the age of eighteen is reached, and it is in connection with this type of school rather than in connection with the elementary or secondary school that constructive efforts should be made.
It must be remembered that Mr. Acland, when Minister for Education, introduced the subject into the Elementary Code of 1895 and provided a detailed syllabus. This was generally approved not only as the action of a progressive administrator but as an evidence of the new spirit of freedom beginning to reveal itself in the educational system.
There are some education authorities, like the County of Chester, which enact that the study of citizenship shall proceed side by side with religious education, but the majority leave it to the teachers to do all that is necessary by the adaptation of other subjects and the development of school spirit.