Creating the Citizen: Critical Literacy, Civics, and the C3 Framework in Social Studies

Creating the Citizen: Critical Literacy, Civics, and the C3 Framework in Social Studies

Steve Masyada (University of Central Florida, USA) and Elizabeth Yeager Washington (University of Florida, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8082-9.ch005
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This chapter presents an approach to civic education that integrates critical literacy with the research-based promising practices of civic education and the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies Standards. The authors present a definition of critical literacy that reflects a broad-based approach to the concept while exploring what critical literacy may look like within a civic education classroom and the ways in which this reflects a particular approach to good citizenship. Perceived connections between critical literacy, the promising practices, and the dimensions of the C3 Framework are illustrated throughout the chapter, and the authors provide a real-world example to demonstrate what integration may look like in practice through either extra-curricular or classroom-based student engagement.
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Civic education, if one believes the media, is ‘in crisis.’ Scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Civics Assessment are stagnant or decreasing. The achievement gap between white and minority students remains significant. The degree to which citizen civic engagement is happening is questionable. Civic learning itself is poorly defined. In some cases, it is simply not occurring, often as a result of continued pressure on instructional time in the social studies (Bok, 2017; Dillon, 2011; Gonch & Poliakoff, 2016; Rogers, 2012). Less than 25 percent of Americans engage in dialogue with their local elected officials, work together to solve a community problem, join community groups, or volunteer in their communities (Lou Frey Institute, 2018).

The purpose of this chapter is not to question the prevailing narrative concerning civic education. The numbers, after all, do not lie. Rather, we seek to move beyond the narrative of crisis and towards a narrative of possibility. Within this chapter, we explore the connection between critical literacy and civics, and how this connection might translate into classroom instruction and community action through the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework of the National Council for the Social Studies (2013). Drawing on current practices and approaches in Florida and elsewhere, we consider the question: What might critical literacy look like within the civics classroom? Our examples will seek to provide ways in which this can impact the broader academic environment and a more personal neighborhood-focused pursuit of change.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Critical Literacy: An approach to learning that encourages students to engage with and interrogate a variety of texts in order to understand the language of power and the structures that shape their lives.

Action Civics: An approach to civic education that involves students learning how to engage with and solve some issue relevant to them.

Promising Practices: A research-based pedagogical approach to civic education that focuses on 10 key areas: knowledge building, deliberation of current events, service learning, extracurricular opportunities, school governance, simulations of democratic practice, school climate reform, news media literacy, action civics, and socio-emotional learning.

Civic Literacy: An approach to learning that emphasizes the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for active and engaged citizenship.

Inquiry Arc: An approach to teaching and learning that has students exploring questions relevant to their lives, engaging in research, and developing potential solutions to political, social, or economic problems within their communities.

Compelling Question: A question integral to the Inquiry Arc that is centered on a community problem or area of concern.

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