AmeriCAN-DO Attitude

Are you an AmeriCAN or an AmeriCAN'T?

Today’s Generation of Children Needs to Be Taught that It is Okay to be Proud of America

This was referred to me through Blackfive, and Mr. Nolan Finley is spot-on in his analysis of the problem with our school system and the attitudes of today’s youth: Students need grounding in patriotism

At a recent conference on the future of the military, an Army major was asked what subject should be emphasized in high school to better prepare young people for military service and encourage them to join up.

I guessed either math, because of the increased complexity and computerization of weapons systems, or physical education, because of the flabby condition of America’s youth.

The major’s answer: “Government.”

“I’m not surprised,” says Oakland Circuit Judge Michael Warren, author of “America’s Survival Guide,” which decries the failure of schools to teach the nation’s founding principles. “The lack of understanding about what makes America exceptional in the world has a great impact on the willingness of people to defend America.”

That was the major’s point. The U.S. military is scrambling to fill its ranks, increasing bonuses 300 percent and, in the case of the Army, allowing 30 percent of recruits to enlist without meeting quality standards.

An unpopular war is only part of the explanation for the lack of interest in the military. Warren says patriotism has gone out of fashion largely because the schools fail to instill in students a love of country and, worse, overemphasize America’s flaws.

“We do not teach the triumphs of America as well as we should,” says Warren, a former State Board of Education member. “There is a contingent in our classrooms that is all anti-American and emphasizes the blotches and warts. A lot of American history is horrible. But it has to be counter-balanced by all of the wonderful things America has done.

“There’s a battle going on in American schools about which approach is going to dominate.”

It’s not just the schools. The post-World War II generation — mine — grew up immersed in John Wayne heroism, certain of America’s right and might.

Today’s children don’t even have a Rambo to idolize. Most of the recent movies with a military theme cast America as the villain.

“If you look at the television shows, movies and music, and actually much of the political class, there are people out there who seem to want America to fail,” Warren says. “That gets echoed in the media and trickles down to the schools.”

The solution he recommends in his book is a vigorous civics curriculum that has at its core the nation’s founding principles. Currently, Michigan requires just one high school civics course. Warren would mandate government be taught every year, and that the courses always circle back to the Founders.

The purpose is not just to create willing soldiers, but to drill into students the rights guaranteed them by the Constitution, build an understanding of why the rights make America unique and encourage them to fiercely defend their rights against threats from inside and outside the country.

Warren isn’t advocating a propaganda campaign. He wants to restore the balance that has tilted too sharply toward a cynical, blame-America lesson plan.

American children should grow up knowing that although their country has its faults, it’s built on a foundation of the purest principles. And it’s OK to be proud of that.

Exactly correct. Too many people nowadays, young and old alike, go around with absolutely no perspective about how amazingly prosperous we have it in this country. What is considered “poor” here is considered Middle-Class or “rich” in most other countries. Yet, you will never hear that talked about by most people. The majority of people just seem to bitch and bitch and cry and moan about everything, blaming everything on the government and President Bush or whomever. People don’t stop to think just how amazingly good are things.

It is a sad state of affairs.

I am also posting this excellent rebuttal comment by “Deltabravo”, left at the Blackfive post:

Steve, with all due respect, America is unique and amazing because we are built on the idea that the people ARE the government! This is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

We make our laws, and we enforce our laws and defend them as citizens. Our government is not imposed upon us from above with a king or a shah or a mullah. It is not a government of insurrectionists or military juntas or revolutionaries pulled from dissenters within our midst and inflicted on us against our will by force of violence. It is a government based on our free choice as citizens which we ratify and elect and re-elect and vote out of office on a regular basis.

People in other countries have died to have what we have. And many of them still don’t have it. Some have a farce or a mere shadow of what we have. Some dare never hope to have it at all.

I agree our students should be taught better why our government is one that has allowed so much liberty to exist in this country, kept in check only by the virtue of our own people. And that, my friend, is where we are in trouble. Without virtue as a nation, we will descend into something we would not be proud of. Our government will follow its people down whatever path they go.

Someone asked Ben Franklin after the Constitutional Convention, “What kind of government have you given us, sir?” He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

I agree wholeheartedly with the article posted here. But I disagree with one item: Our young people do have a “Rambo” who is wildly and enthusiastically praised, especially by the teenage guys. Anyone ever heard of a fellow named Chuck Norris? Yeah. He’s very popular.

Posted by: Deltabravo | May 19, 2008 at 12:14 PM

The following comment by “Caleb” is equally good:

Steve, the plain fact is that BOTH “government” and “values” need to be thoroughly instilled in youngsters on the road to adulthood. Without a thorough grounding in the structure, principles, and functioning of the American government, the pre-adult gets a distorted view of what his/her rights AND responsibilities are, how to get them, and how to maintain them. Without a thorough grounding in the things that the government has done right, as well as the things done wrong, the citizen gets a one-sided view of the country, and that by definition is a false view.

Now you overlay that with the courses on “values”, and western thought, and such like, and you have the kind of well rounded and grounded citizen that we used to try to produce.

There is plenty of time to teach both bodies of knowledge. You simply have to have the cajones to throw all the feel good and PC courses in the dumpster. For instance, I remember when “Band” was a subject taught after school for those that wanted to stay. I remember when the classes on anti-discrimination, and gender issues, and all PC indoctrination were handled within the general school day. It was called insisting on discipline and manners. You can have larger classes and more substantive classes if the students observe discipline and order, and if they are forced to observe the strictures of manners, a lot of the other “problems” seem to disappear.

So Steve, bottom line is that the article is not wrong, and neither are you wrong in the subject areas that you call for. Both are desperately needed in our schools today, and neither will be seen in the schools in the near term. The school unions and various other denizens of the education industry and bureaucracy won’t stand for it.

Posted by: Caleb | May 19, 2008 at 12:23 PM


May 18, 2008 , 1:42PM - Posted by | American History, Liberalism, Patriotism, Public Education

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