Reimagining Civic Learning: Louise Dubé
November 1, 2019
“It is not possible to run a democracy without investing in our kids.”
Louise Dubé is the Executive Director of iCivics, an organization whose mission is to cultivate a new generation of students for thoughtful and active citizenship. We discuss the critical importance of high-quality civics education, the role of gaming for effective learning, and the necessity for robust investment and legislation in this space.
High-quality civic education
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded iCivics in 2009 because she believed that the practice of democracy must be taught and learned anew by each generation. High-quality civic education starts at an early age and teaches how the US system works. The curriculum includes the basics, such as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; how to think about the complex challenges that face any government by examining past Supreme Court cases; fostering well-informed, civil discourse with people of differing viewpoints; and teaching media literacy. Educating and empowering future engaged citizens about why their vote matters, what their government does, and how they can enact change is the foundation for a strong democracy.
The series of innovative iCivics games and supporting classroom resources make the complex legislative, judicial, and electoral systems come to life. Civic knowledge is taught through active learning instead of through writing answers on worksheets or checking boxes. The games place you in real world civics situations: a constitutional lawyer deciding which cases to bring to trial based on your knowledge of the Bill of Rights, or one of the founders who is working to ratify the Constitution. In this way, students look at how they fit in to their community’s civic life and how they can make informed decisions and participate in our democracy.
Prioritizing civic education
Currently, 25% of young Americans view democracy as a “bad” or “very bad” system of government. This shocking number is both an indictment of the way civics is currently taught, and an urgent wake-up call that we must do better. School curricula are determined at the state level, so parents and legislators need to advocate for and invest in statewide civics programs. States like Florida and Massachusetts, which have rigorous civics requirements in their schools, are excellent examples to follow. Many other states are already invested in civics education, but more needs to be done. iCivics founded CivXNow to help ensure that every young person acquires the necessary civic knowledge for informed and authentic civic engagement.
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Louise Dubé joined iCivics as Executive Director in 2014. She oversees the work that iCivics does in creating video games that transform abstract concepts into real-life problems and in designing a developmentally appropriate civics curriculum. Inspired by a continuing deep commitment to ongoing learning, she has devoted her career to ensuring that all students are prepared for active and thoughtful citizenship and life.
Before joining iCivics, Dubé served as the Managing Director of Digital Learning at Boston’s WGBH. She is also a co-founder of CASES, a New York alternative-to-incarceration program for youthful offenders where education helped re-shape lives. She holds degrees from McGill and Yale Universities.
You can follow her on Twitter @louise_dube.