<< The Body Politic

Civic Virtue and Education

Monday, September 12th, 2011

In July’s Hoover Digest, William Damon has a good article on the importance of teaching civic education to and inculcating patriotism in the next generation. Writing about the decline of civics and social studies in American schools, Damon writes:

“Many parents and teachers do not favor this shift in focus, but they are powerless to prevent it. The most recent study on the matter, released by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in September 2010, shows a striking disconnect between those who determine public educational policies and those who raise and teach the young. Funding policies now focus single-mindedly on basic math and literacy skills (with special emphasis on the remedial), squeezing out the time and resources needed to prepare students for citizenship. Yet most teachers and parents believe that citizenship, along with the essential character virtues that it requires, should occupy a central place in American education priorities, as it did in previous periods of U.S. public schooling. Unfortunately, today’s federal policies have been winning the day, at least as far as our public schools are concerned, because of the power of federal financial clout. Inattention to this shift by the news media compounds the severity of the loss.”

The whole thing, in which Damon discusses the important role that gratitude plays in forming specific civic attachment, is well worth reading, and is excerpted from Mr. Damon’s new book, Failing Liberty 101: How We Are Leaving Young Americans Unprepared for Citizenship in a Free Society.