Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Teaching Patriotism-With Conviction

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Teaching Patriotism-With Conviction

Article excerpt

Americans will debate for many years to come the causes and implications of the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., as well as the foiled attack that led to the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field. Between the first and second "anniversaries" of 9/11, another development deepened our awareness of the dangerous world we inhabit and of America's role therein--the successful war to liberate Iraq from its dictator and his murderous regime. Of course, the consequences--and contentiousness--of that conflict continue to resonate daily in newspaper headlines and on the evening news. In these challenging times, educators rightly wonder about their proper role. What should they teach young Americans? How should they prepare tomorrow's citizenry? What is most important for students to learn?

These are weighty questions, and there is every reason to expect them to linger. But it is now clearer than ever that, if we wish to prepare our children for unforeseen future threats and conflicts, we must arm them with lessons from history and civics that help them learn from the victories and setbacks of their predecessors, lessons that, in Jefferson's words, "enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom."

Jefferson was right when he laid upon education the grave assignment of equipping tomorrow's adults with the knowledge, values, judgment, and critical faculties to determine for themselves what "will secure or endanger" their freedom and their country's well-being. …

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