High school civics classes should offer much more than just an explanation of the branches of government.
We live in anxious times. But many times in our past were far more anxious, and the reasons for anxiety then were more compelling. Consider, for example, the situation facing the world in the early months of 1941, when Hitler’s triumphant armies controlled continental Europe, when only the British Isles managed to hold out and when the future of liberty looked very dim.
Yet at that moment, the novelist John Dos Passos wrote: “In times of change and danger when there is a quicksand of fear under men’s reasoning, a sense of continuity with generations gone before can stretch like a lifeline across the scary present.” Dos Passos urged that we look backward to a past that could be a source of sanity and direction, a lifeline of sustenance and instruction. Such training of the mind and memory ought to be at the core of an education for democratic citizenship.
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