The Democratic Toolkit is lacking in education.
The Institute’s Education Department is committed to providing students with thorough knowledge of contemporary political issues and the skills needed to discuss these issues in a productive manner. Not only are civic engagement and civics education lacking among younger generations today, but our harshly partisan political climate is preventing students from understanding the many dimensions of an issue in a way that makes effective problem-solving possible. Our Education team at YIP seeks to change these trends through a nonpartisan, discourse-based approach to civics curriculum.
The YIP civics education curriculum currently in development focuses on addressing the most pressing political issues today and providing opportunities for students to discuss, debate, and engage in these issues. Our curriculum begins with hands-on exercises in formal debate, productive political discourse, and community engagement through which students build core skills in research, creative problem-solving, analysis, and argumentation. Building on this foundation, each unit of the curriculum addresses a different polarizing political issue with the goal of students understanding the substance of each issue and its relevant ideological perspectives. Students are encouraged to look beyond their own perspectives and to engage thoughtfully with other points of view. The ultimate goal is for students to break down the partisan barriers surrounding these issues by engaging in productive discourse that achieves problem-solving and consensus-building.
How we tackle the issue:
Efficacy: Setting a gold standard
We seek to define policy-oriented conversations and what discourse looks like. Often, people understand what they themselves believe, yet fail to articulate it across party lines. Our curriculum guides discussion at its rudimentary stages - which students utilize to build on these conversations.
Context: Provoking Conflict
The discourse teaches students how to have a back-and-forth conversation about complex political thoughts and theories, rather than a one-sided debate that fails to address all facets of a topic. We seek to equip students with skills to evaluate all aspects of a political issue and articulate it to someone else.
Growth: Teacher Outreach
Educators are at the forefront of the dissemination of knowledge, which is why we prioritize them when implementing our curriculum. We seek to work with teachers and integrate the true and obvious into their curriculum, an intentional addition that enriches students’ thinking. The average teacher instructs around 150 students, which would allow us to expand our outreach to students.
Growth: District Outreach
The implementation of our curriculum relies on the participation of various stakeholders. Namely, numerous schools in one district. This way, the Institute can concentrate its impact and spread the curriculum to a wide range of communities. We already have a significant number of students ready to advocate for YIP’s curriculum.
Growth: State-Level Lobbying
State-level legislatures have the opportunity to reverse the downward trend in youth political participation, and we firmly believe that our curriculum will do just that. When states prioritize education, they prioritize the future, and we want to provide all the tools necessary to ensure that future.
We look forward to working with schools in the near future to see our curriculum implemented in physical classrooms. As work on the YIP curriculum progresses, we are also offering additional educational opportunities in the form of workshops based on our curriculum. YIP’s Education Department workshops align with the curriculum mission of breaking down political polarization through discourse but provide this experience in a 60-90 minute discussion-based event. Led by the Education Department team, these workshops focus on relevant political issues with the goal of students collaborating on policy solutions and familiarizing themselves with new points of view. Past workshops have shown tremendous efficacy in expanding students’ understanding of other ideological perspectives and of the various considerations involved in contemporary issues.
If you are interested in hosting a workshop with your classroom, organization, or other group, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you!