American History & Culture
Active citizenship requires a basic understanding of American government and how it works. A knowledge of American history and American culture is necessary for a broad perspective as well as a deep understanding of the complexities of American society. Study of American history and culture supports the development of critical thinking skills and enables citizens to interpret information and apply knowledge gained in the exercise of citizenship.
In fact, a number of public issues are impossible to understand without knowledge of American history and culture. Many issues facing America have a long history with important lessons to be learned. Without such an understanding, citizens are not equipped to understand discussions of important issues or evaluate candidates for political office.
“How to Be an American” Survey
Eric Liu believes that specification of knowledge needed for effective citizenship, “has to be online, crowd sourced…whose entries are added or pruned, elevated or demoted, according to the wisdom of the network.” (p61). He has initiated such a survey and reported the results to date. (“How to Be an American” survey by Eric Liu, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Program on Citizenship and American Identity and founder of Citizen’s University. Reported in an article of the same name in “Democracy”, No. 38. Fall 2015, p52-63.)
Responses to his survey as of Fall, 2015 are as follows: (Note: Each term is hyperlinked to a related information source. Click on all terms to “Become an American” as defined by survey respondents.)
Stay Tuned. DEMOCRACY-CENTRAL plans to offer interactive quizzes to test your knowledge on “How to Be an American” topics.
The US Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Exam for Citizenship
The US Immigration and Naturalization Service’s exam for citizenship includes questions on American history? Click here to try a sample test. See if you can pass.
WATCH EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS
The video below is a playlist. Click the three bars at the left to see all videos. Crash Course provides a comprehensive coverage of American history from ‘Natives and Spaniards’ to ‘Obama.’ Each is educational, entertaining and brief (Wikipedia).
Liberty’s Kids is an educational animated television series tracing the historical process of the creation of the United State’s and its branches of government. It tells the story of the making of America from the Boston Tea Party to the completion of the Constitutional Convention through the eyes of two fictional young reporters for a local newspaper. It was originally broadcast on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) during the years 2002 through 2004. Click here to watch videos.
A compilation of American History books as evaluated by fellow citizens and others
Books on American History are sold on Amazon.com and other booksellers. Customers can rate books on a scale from zero stars to five stars. Here are books arranged by category, pre-screened for you by American citizens and others who gave them a high rating (4.5 to 5 stars) arranged by category. Each book is hyperlinked (click on the book of choice) to Amazon.com where you can read reviews.
STAY TUNED. DEMOCRACY-CENTRAL PLANS TO OFFER INTERACTIVE QUIZZES ON AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE – ONE FOR EACH CATEGORY.
GENERAL HISTORY BOOKS
American History The Early Years, Student Edition (U.S. HISTORY – THE EARLY YEARS)
by McGraw-Hill Education
American History: Connecting with the Past Volume 1
by Alan Brinkley
American History: A Survey
by Alan Brinkley
The Complete Book of United States History
by School Specialty Publishing
The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789
by Joseph J. Ellis
The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History
by Jennifer Armstrong
Time America: An Illustrated History
by Editors of Time Magazine