In the spring of 2018, pre-K teacher Anne Krane and her class participated in a research study with Boston College. Jon Wargo, an assistant professor of Teacher Education, Special Education, Curriculum and Instruction at BC’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development, and Jasmine Alvarado, a graduate student at the Lynch School, conducted a study to observe the use of civics in young students.
The article, entitled “‘Making’ Civics and Designing Inquiry: Integrative, Project-Based Learning in Pre-Kindergarten,” was recently published in the academic journal Social Studies and the Young Learner. The study found that students as young as 2.9 years old can feel a sense of civic pride and duty to their community. Fostering their sense of “making a difference,” the project enlisted the young students to create a mock playground by asking the question: “How do we build community spaces that are welcoming to, representative of, and sustaining for all community members?”
Overall, the goal of the project was to teach students that they could make a difference in the world and help make positive changes, while understanding that they have a responsibility to stand up for and look out for anyone who might need help. Jointly designed by Krane and Wargo, this multi-faceted project explored maps, geography, citizenship, responsibility and civic engagement. The students actively used this vocabulary as they creatively built the project.
“The study examined how ‘making’ provides opportunities for civic engagement, including teaching young people how to participate and question public ideas across contexts,” said Wargo in 2018. “Saint Columbkille Partnership School was a perfect place for the project as they share the same goal of not simply making more just social futures for children, but imagining possible futures rooted in respect and care.”
“I loved watching students stretch themselves in these ways, especially at a point when they are developing their own sense of identity and their role in their world,” said Krane in 2018. “I loved working with the lab school on this project, and I look forward to seeing where the students take this important knowledge!”