Discussion Guides

“Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife.” – John Dewey

A democracy is only as effective as its citizens, which is why civic education must be central to education in the United States. Only by encouraging young people to think about what it means to be American, and how our country works, will our country continue to thrive into the future.

A great way to approach civic education is by discussing what are and aren’t  “American values”. American Values, as the phrase is used here, are exemplary behaviors or character traits that have always been valued as ideal for American government and citizenship. It is important to separate them from American “habits”, or activities that Americans might frequently fall into, but are not necessarily American “values”. By distinguishing between the two – values and habits – students (and other citizens) will be able to think about and learn what they appreciate most about America.  This analysis and self-knowledge can help us to guide our lives as American citizens.

We have prepared a number of discussion guides for community and classroom use on what are and what are not “American Values”. You can review these by clicking on the links for the online versions, or by downloading the PDF versions. These are being made available here for civic and classroom use under a creative commons copyright. Do note that most of these guides were written in 2005-2007. Links in the PDFs have not been updated, however updated links are available in the on-line versions here on the website.  If your class would like to submit a current example for one of the guides, using the summary/question format, we would be happy to post it as an update!

Guides on Values:

Guides on Habits, NOT Values:

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