This study explores the lived experience of democratic civic education for middle school students. Grounded in the tradition of hermeneutic phenomenology as guided by Heidegger (1962), Gadamer (1960/2003), Casey (1993), and Levinas (1961/2004), among others, the framework for conducting action-sensitive research, as described by van Manen (2003), guides this inquiry as I endeavor to uncover what it means for students to embody civic education. Twenty-nine students are taped engaging in discussions, debates, simulations, and other civic education. Twelve students self-select to engage in reflective writing and conversations about their experiences.
The existential theme of lived body emerges from this inquiry. The importance of embodying one’s learning, as well as connecting physically and socially to one’s society are apparent. The students’ learning through their corporeal experience serves to create the civil body politic of the classroom and inform their behavior outside of the classroom. Insights from this study may inform curriculum theorists and developers, policy-makers, and classroom teachers. Recommendations are made to transform the social studies for students to capitalize on their bodily experiences within the classroom so that they may grow in their role as a citizen. Students may then embody the ideals essential in civic education and democratic societies
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