What We’re Reading

November 2, 2017

Every few weeks, GC picks out a selection of articles that are relevant to our work and to the civics education space as a whole. We at GC love to expand our learning in every aspect of what we do, and we hope you enjoy our selections!

Should we worry that half of Americans trust their gut to tell them what’s true? The Conversation.
This article reports on research about how people determine what to believe as true, focusing on how intuition and evidence both inform beliefs. In the political arena, researchers note that people often fall for misinformation because they tend to believe claims that favor their side, regardless of evidence. Contributing factors include the influence of nonconscious emotions and the need to defend a group that one identifies with.

Why You Should Vote on November 7th, The Daily Gazette.
This op-ed from a college student in Pennsylvania focuses on the importance of participating in local politics and government. State and local governments frequently work ahead of the federal government, testing policies that are then adopted on larger levels, and local elections are often decided by slim margins. “Local politics is the reality that touches our lives every day, and it is our best course of action for making change in our immediate communities.”

Developing Students’ Ability to Give and Take Effective Feedback, KQED.
This article highlights new methods for teaching students’ to give and take effective feedback. Based on the Six Thinking Hats framework commonly used in business settings, students learn to think concretely about the kind of feedback they are giving, and offer critiques that are specific and depersonalized, which makes them more meaningful.

Civics Needs a Makeover NOW — How? Keep It Student-Centered, Stupid!Education Week.
In this blog post, GC National Board member and CIRCLE Director Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg presents a framework for addressing the problem of civic readiness among students who are furthest from opportunity. The framework, Keep It Student-Centered, Stupid (K-I-S-S), means that civics education should begin with building a sense of agency and purpose, not a reliance on rote facts. Student-centered civics also lets students take informed action on issues that matter to them.

Will the U.S. keep its democratic republic? Washington Post.
The final video in a 15-part series on Founding Principles, this installment outlines key points to remember about the structure and function of American government, with a focus on Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote: “A republic, if you can keep it.” Preserving a successful republic, according to the professor who leads the series, depends on vigorous citizen involvement. “Get informed, get involved, and start a civil conversation about what’s happening, and what you want to see happen in your neighborhood, in your state, in Washington and around the world.”

Many writers try to span America’s political divide, rarely do they succeed, The Economist.
This article analyzes political book purchases from Amazon, using the “Customers who bought…also bought…” feature, to demonstrate that, perhaps unsurprisingly, customers who buy left-leaning books tend to buy only left-leaning books, and the same is true on the right. The piece includes a graphic showing the network analysis of books consumed by readers from across the political spectrum, which does include a sliver of purple identifying a few rare titles read by both sides.

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