Panel Sessions at a Glance
Action Civics and Service Learning
If service learning happens at all, it is often disconnected from civic learning. How can we strengthen the natural links between these two forms of learning? Recent research suggests we might need to think “outside the box.” For example, one recent study (ex: Laura Padilla Walker’s BYU study for Justserve.org) found that students developed a stronger civic disposition simply as a result of offering help to perfect strangers. Other research has found that service learning can promote civic engagement when students are prompted to explore the underlying inequities that give rise to the needs for service in the first place.
Action Civics helps educators to uncover these links by starting from the students’ perspective. Students begin by identifying issues that matter to them and then they identify groups and strategies for addressing these issues. Teachers need tools to help students make these connections and to help establish meaningful or “critical” service learning opportunities that support a reciprocal relationship between the students doing the service and the community being served.
Moderator: Stephen Masyada (also a keynote)
Controversial Topics and Current Events
Nothing prepares young people for civic life more effectively than discussing controversial issues and current events. But in these highly polarized times, facilitating such discussions can be downright uncomfortable for teachers and administrators. Some topics are so fraught with conflict that it’s hard to know where to start the conversation or how to make sure that all students feel safe speaking their minds. But with the right scaffolding and lesson plans, such discussions can promote a broad range of learning outcomes, including literacy, listening skills, and thoughtful dialogue.
This session gives teachers the tools and the confidence they might need to resolve the political classroom paradox: balancing the need to facilitate nonpartisan discussion with the need to prepare students to participate in inherently partisan political life.