Why Is Civics Important?

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The study of civics is important because it helps people to understand how government works, and it provides people with knowledge about how to influence government as a citizen. Generally speaking, civics is the study of what it means to be a citizen in a particular nation.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution had several concepts in mind: They did not want to establish a king, they wanted to diversify the decision-making process in the creation of laws, and they wanted to establish a system in which ordinary citizens have a significant voice. For this reason, they created a tripartite government in which no aspect of government has sole authority over laws and legality. For example, while Congress passes laws, the president has to sign them (for the most part), and the judicial system provides recourse when the laws are unfair. In order for this system to operate, people need to know about how it is supposed to work so that politicians and judges can operate properly and also so that citizens can challenge leaders when the leaders are in the wrong. Further, civics instruction can provide students with opportunities to consider local and national issues and learn about what citizens can do to create change where problems exist. For example, a large portion of the civil rights movement involved the use of the courts rather than a revolution to strike down laws pertaining to the segregation of schools. Civics, then, helps people to understand and to influence the legal context in which they find themselves; this is why it is a critical subject to study.