Civics is the study of the theoretical, political and practical aspects of citizenship, as well as its rights and duties; the duties of citizens to each other as members of a political body and to the government.[need quotation to verify] It includes the study of civil law and civil code, and the study of government with attention to the role of citizens―as opposed to external factors―in the operation and oversight of government.
Within a given political or ethical tradition, civics can refer to educating the citizens. The history of civics dates back to the earliest theories of civics by Confucius in ancient China and by Plato in ancient Greece. In China also along with Confucianism developed the tradition of Legalism. These traditions in the East and in the West developed to an extent differently, therefore, with bringing in the past different concepts of citizens' rights and the application of justice, together with different ethics in public life.[clarification needed] This was mainly valid before the translation of the Western legal tradition to Chinese which started in 1839, after which influence by Western tradition was brought[by whom?] to China, with periods of restoration of traditional Chinese law and influence by Soviet law; specific is the common ordinary language used in Chinese laws which has a significant educational role.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines civics as "the study of the rights and duties of citizens and of how government works." The definition from dictionary.com is: "the study or science of the privileges and obligations of citizens."
Criticism of civic education
Sudbury schools contend that values, social justice and democracy must be learned through experience as Aristotle said: "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." They adduce that for this purpose schools must encourage ethical behavior and personal responsibility. In order to achieve these goals schools must allow students the three great freedoms—freedom of choice, freedom of action and freedom to bear the results of action—that constitute personal responsibility. The "strongest, political rationale" for democratic schools is that they teach "the virtues of democratic deliberation for the sake of future citizenship." This type of education is often alluded to in the deliberative democracy literature as fulfilling the necessary and fundamental social and institutional changes necessary to develop a democracy that involves intensive participation in group decision making, negotiation, and social life of consequence.
^Compare: Sullivan, James (1918). "Civics and civics teaching". In Rines, George Edwin. The Encyclopedia Americana. 6. Encyclopedia Americana Corporation. p. 726. Retrieved 2016-05-25. Civics is now a term broadly applied to the activities of the citizen in his relationship to the state and society.
CIVNET.org – in their own words, "a worldwide online civic education community of civic educators, scholars, policymakers, civic-minded journalists, NGOs, and other individuals promoting civic education"
Facing History and Ourselves Engaging students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry