Want to Take My Civics Class? Get Ready to Squirm

Learning How America Works Should Be Hard on You, Not Just Good for You

In many conversations, the topic of civics education comes with its own halo. The conventional wisdom is that it’s good, clean medicine, and if our children just get enough of its inoculation, the American body politic will be healthy enough to survive another generation.

But after nearly two decades as a middle-school and high-school history teacher, I’ve come to understand through teaching civics—and studying how it’s taught—that learning how to be a citizen doesn’t work like that. Indeed, civics education is best when it’s messy and uncomfortable.

That’s especially true in …

Schools Aren’t Teaching Kids to Argue Truth to Power

State Education Standards Are Failing Students by Ignoring Why History Matters

Why can’t history classes show students why history matters?

That’s what I thought as I read through a new framework for teaching K-12 history in the U.S.—California’s History-Social Science Framework.

This is …

There’s No Such Thing as Math People

Mathematical Ability Is Not Fixed, We're Just Teaching It Wrong

The first time my girlfriend and I fought, it was over, of all things, math. It was one of those past-midnight, early-relationship nights, when instead of sleeping, you talk about …

Poetry in a Pennsylvania Classroom

Chandler’s poem about a gold chain
is a sinker on a fishing line
in the classroom where fluorescent
lights suck smoke out of my lungs.
Smoke that I inhaled 20 …

How to Turn Elementary School Teachers into Emotional Detectives

Strengthening the Bond Between Educators and Pupils Can Get to the Root of Behavior Problems and Bullying

About four years ago, I found myself asking a question many teachers ask their students: “Why would you do something like that?”

I was sitting down with a fourth grade …