School of Education News

UW-Madison’s Hess speaks with WPR’s ‘Morning Show’ on importance of civics education

September 06, 2018

UW-Madison’s Diana Hess appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Morning Show” on Wednesday to talk about the importance of civics education.

Hess is the dean of UW-Madison’s School of Education and holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education.

“The Morning Show” host Carrie Kaufman notes that despite requiring high schoolers to pass a civics test, Wisconsin is one of the few states in the country that doesn’t require schools to offer a civics course. Kaufman and Hess talk about why that is and how that hurts Wisconsin.

Dean Diana Hess
Hess has spent much of her career researching the impact of school-based civic education programs and how students experience and learn from discussions of highly controversial political issues. Such discourse is at the heart of a democratic education, Hess notes, and these discussions help students understand diverse points of view and become more politically engaged adults.

Hess also serves on the board of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago and the iCivics Scholars Advisory Board.

While schools aren’t the only place students can learn about elections, Hess says they are an ideal space. Hess co-authored with Paula McAvoy the 2014 award-winning book, “The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education.” This book, which is based on a four-year study of 35 teachers and their 1,000-plus students, explores the role of teachers in perpetuating serious, thoughtful political deliberation in schools.

With rhetoric ratcheting up ahead of the November elections and a new school year just underway, an upcoming conference hosted by the UW-Madison School of Education couldn’t be more timely or relevant. The event is titled, “Teaching About the 2018 Elections: Preparing Students for Political Engagement,” and it will run from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, in Grainger Hall.

The Teaching About the 2018 Elections conference is designed to provide educators the tools, resources and confidence they’d need to teach about electoral politics in a way that is engaging but respectful to differing points of view. The day-long event draws upon the best and most current information, and is geared toward K-12 public or private school educators and administrators, preservice teachers, graduate students and social studies professors.

To learn much more about Hess’ thoughts on these important topics, make sure and listen to her entire interview with Kaufman earlier this week, which is archived on this Wisconsin Public Radio web page.

To learn more about the Teaching About the 2018 Elections, visit this conference web page.

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