The core meaning of civic education is that it is a subject that promotes civic knowledge, civic skills, civic values and civic dispositions. Civic knowledge is concerned with the content or what citizens out to know, it is thorough familiarization with what civic life constitutes. It is having an understanding about basic principles of democracy, politics, elections, institutions. Having the understanding of the rights and responsibilities, knowledge of what rights and responsibilities our political leaders have. Social relationships in the community entails levels of civic knowledge, an understanding that their different cultures. It is about having an understanding of current issues, the functionality of institutions and sustainable development. Civic skills, with regard to the three positions given on the meaning of civic education it promotes practical skills meaning service learning and common awareness hence for people to discharge their responsibilities and exercise their rights as citizens, the need for skills, participatory and intellectual capabilities becomes paramount. Intellectual skills in civics and government are inseparable from content, these skills are sometimes called thinking skills.
The National Standards of Civics and Government categorize these skills as identifying and describing; explaining and analyzing; and evaluating, taking and defending positions in public affairs. A good civic education enables one to identify or give the meaning or significance of things that are tangible such as the flag, national monuments or civics and political events. It also enables one to give the meaning or significance of intangibles, such as ideals or concepts including patriotism, majority and minority rights, civil society, and constitutionalism. Civic disposition’s refers to the traits of private and public character essential to maintenance and improvement of constitutional democracy. Civic dispositions develop slowly as a result of what one learns and experiences in the home, school, community and organization of civil society.
These experiences include understanding that democracy requires the responsible self governance of each individual; one cannot exist without the other. Traits of private character, such as moral responsibility, self discipline, and respect for the worth and human dignity of every individual are imperative. Traits of public character are public spiritedness, civility, respect for the rule of law, crucial/ critical mindedness and willingness to listen, negotiate and compromise are inseparable to democracy’s success. These bring about the intention to be active in the community, to participate in civil society as well as in particular political community. The importance of civic dispositions, or the “habits of the heart” as Alexis de Tocqueville called them, can scarcely be overemphasized.