Civic Illiteracy and Education: Battle for the Hearts and Minds of American Youth

Civic Illiteracy and Education: Battle for the Hearts and Minds of American Youth

Civic Illiteracy and Education: Battle for the Hearts and Minds of American Youth

Civic Illiteracy and Education: Battle for the Hearts and Minds of American Youth

Synopsis

"This book presents a disturbing thesis: education - often through history textbooks - promotes civic illiteracy and turns civic responsibility into patriotic conformity. Youth are taught to support a dominant-elite view of international conflicts which undermines the critical abilities that are essential for citizens in a democracy. Expanding upon the social and educational insights of dissident theorists, the author challenges the view of civic literacy put forth by such educators as William Bennett and Diane Ravitch." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Land of Promise; One Flag, One Land; Our Land, Our Time; America:
The Glorious Republic
; Spirit of Liberty:
An American History
; The Americans:
A History of a People and a Nation
; A Proud Nation; Heritage of Freedom; The Challenge of Freedom. These history textbook titles reverberate with visions of democracy, freedom, and patriotism--what America is all about. They inspire one to think about the glorious traditions and lessons that should move youth.

There is a different view of our history, patriotism and war, however, that rarely makes it into schools, textbooks and mass media. This "other side" must be presented if youth are to think about and challenge the distortions, omissions and lies that shape history lessons about the country and its wars. This book is about the contest for the hearts and minds of youth, about what is termed "civic literacy"--the ability to think critically and objectively about the nation's fundamental premises and practices.

Influential educators faithfully support a dominant-elite view that has fostered an uncritical patriotism and militarism, undermining thoughtful and active citizenship in a democracy. in contrast, I argue that education, often through history textbooks which are the primary source of civic literacy instruction, offers youth a distorted view of America, promoting civic illiteracy and turning civic responsibility into patriotic conformity. Allan Bloom Closing of the American Mind has actually been fostered by those who influence educational policy. Dissenters, therefore, must challenge the empty patriotism, yellow ribbons, and militarism that shape the nation and our schools.

Today, there is a crisis of civic literacy and democracy; the representation of our history in schools will help to shape its outcome. This crisis has arisen because we do not educate stu-

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