Many young Americans seem to have a growing disdain for our country. According to a Gallup poll, pride in our nation has declined, especially among young adults.
Young adults are taking to the streets and not merely protesting but wreaking havoc, rioting and looting, tearing down statues, and shutting down anyone who doesn’t share their perspective.
One reason this is happening is what our children are being taught in school. And that doesn’t mean only in college. We all know college campuses have become centers of radical indoctrination, but now it is happening in K-12 as well, through something called action civics, a new movement in civic education.
As educator Thomas Lindsay explains, action civics was born in 2010 when six organizations set out to redefine civic education. Dissatisfied with traditional civics, which depended on book learning, they wanted to create a new civics that was more experiential. They wanted kids to engage, get involved, get active.
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The problem is that without a solid understanding of why the Founders were so deliberate in designing our self-governing republic, with its separation of powers to prevent any one branch from becoming tyrannical, or establishing the rule of law so that we would not be subject to the whims of any one person, we risk falling into the same traps of other, less just regimes.
Indeed it is no accident that today’s protests are looking more like the French Revolution, with its guillotines and beheadings, than the American Revolution, with its debates and deliberations.
>>> To learn more about action civics, watch “How Action Civics Teaches Our Kids to Protest,” the Oct. 28 webinar featuring educator Thomas Lindsay held by The Heritage Foundation. To read his study, published in September by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, go here.
Robert Pondiscio, himself once a proponent and teacher of action civics, wrote that it has grown into “a manipulative and cynical use of children as political props in the service of causes they understand superficially, if at all.”
Indeed a study published by the National Association of Scholars found that action civics projects essentially teach students to protest for progressive political causes.
As Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, pointed out, the “new civics” is in fact a form of anti-civics. It does not teach students how our government works or, even more importantly, their critical role as citizens in a self-governing republic. Rather, it simply teaches them how to be activists.
For many today, it feels as if our country never has been more divided and the ideals of our Founders never more at risk. That is due in no small part to what is being taught in our schools.
Parents must step up and take a more active role in their children’s education, carefully watching what their children are being taught. The good news is that with the COVID-19 crisis and the prevalence of online learning, it is easier than ever before for parents to keep an eye on what is being taught to their children.
But what parents do with that information is what really matters. They must engage with schools, school boards, teachers, and principals to ensure that students are taught more than simply how to protest.
Katharine Gorka is director of the Center for Civil Society and the American Dialogue at The Heritage Foundation’s Feulner Institute.
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