Democracy Matters. The question is how can we as a society support a vibrant democracy. I believe that the heart of a vibrant democracy rests in an informed citizenry. In achieving this goal, nurture outweighs nature. So allow me to be practical. Middle schoola snd high schools should explicitly incorportate community service.
In middle school this should take the form of structured events planned by the school, 2 to 3 times per semester with discussion and reflective writing follow up. In high school there should be a yearly community service requirement (40hrs). Schools should serve as clearinghouse for opportunities, including offering “in house” opportunities. The senior year should feature 1 month of dedicated community service at one site in January, with disccussion and reflection during the period.
Finally civics should be more explicitly taught in middle school and high school with an emphasis on “civic duries” which could include: letters to the edicor of local papers, police ride alongs, attending courts, attendence of local/city/state legislative meetings, participation in political campaigns.
These are not random ideas, this was my education at Jesuit schools over 7 years in Baltimore, MD and Kansas City, MO. I believe that the impact of those experiences were innumerable. I believe that I am a better person because of it.