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by Cloak and Dagger
Thursday, Jul. 10, 2003 at 2:33 AM
I would never contemplate teaching kids to think that government should be about "doing something." That is the absolute worst thing you can do as a teacher if you want your students to have a respect for the freedom of the individual, the Constitution, limited government, free markets, and the founding of our once great republic. Inculcating kids with the crazy notion that government is constituted to "do something" every time life gets difficult or just inconvenient, only serves to roll out the red carpet for totalitarian government.
A Continuous Procession of Clones for the State
Harry Goslin July 8 2003
Last week's National Education Association conference in New Orleans was cause for concern among social studies teachers in attendance. As reported by CNN, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP) found, "About one third of students in fourth, eighth, and 12th grade could not even show a basic understanding of civics at their grade level." Rather than look upon this news as a sign of failure, teachers should view it as one more example of the state-managed school system's long-running success in taking the youth of this country and turning them into first-class illiterates and ignoramuses.
According to CNN, the "challenge" for teachers "is to not only make government and history interesting, but to keep students from becoming alarmingly disengaged." As the story implies, the "alarmingly disengaged" now, become apathetic citizens later. They don't vote and consequently, facilitate the undermining of our democratic system of government. Supposedly, when enough citizens became disengaged from the political process, we all lose.
One participant at the NEA conference even identified the measure of her success as a teacher by how many of her former students voted. Another participant suggested making student councils more like "true governments," instead of "social clubs." Said she: "If we could involve the kids more in the decision-making at the school, where they would see immediate impact and the ability to influence, that would put more of the message in them: They can actually do something."
For almost ten years now, I have taught government, economics, and history in a public high school. I would never contemplate teaching kids to think that government should be about "doing something." That is the absolute worst thing you can do as a teacher if you want your students to have a respect for the freedom of the individual, the Constitution, limited government, free markets, and the founding of our once great republic. Inculcating kids with the crazy notion that government is constituted to "do something" every time life gets difficult or just inconvenient, only serves to roll out the red carpet for totalitarian government.
Kids should be taught that anything in life can be accomplished without the aid of government, from the construction and management of schools, to the building of roads, and the "regulation" of commerce. Yet, as one of the NEA conference attendees suggested, even a skate park would, at some point, need the assistance of government to be completed; therefore, kids should be taught how to access government resources.
If kids are taught that government is their savior, their deliverer, their provider, how will they ever learn to be innovative, entrepreneurial, or resilient in a crisis? Eventually, kids who have been sufficiently trained and indoctrinated in the "benefits" of government planning and organization, will not wait for the first sign of difficulty when solving a problem; they will immediately turn to the government for help as per their training.
To most teachers in this country, a successful civics curriculum would foster students participating in government and accessing the money and power made available by government to do "good" things for their communities. Always absent from the lesson plan is how these projects simply use government to forcibly take from some to provide for others. Rather than foster a sense of communal involvement and responsible citizenship, utilitarian-minded teachers for generations have instead aided the government in creating an ongoing procession of clones for service in the state's many oppressive ventures at home and abroad.
As I always teach my students, public schools in this country are more about indoctrination than education. Sometimes I consider myself to be more of a de-programmer than a teacher. R. Cort Kirkwood, discussing the same NEAP report about the dismal state of civics education in this country, said, "the goal of government schools is not education, but inculcating blind obedience and robotic loyalty to the state." Kirkwood also commented that the lofty goal of making "good democratic citizens," is nothing more than "code for obedient, stupid taxpayers."
The teachers attending the NEA conference should take heart knowing that even if many kids think that the president makes laws and declares wars, that the United States was either allied with Germany, Italy, or Japan during World War II, or that a call to your Congressman can put you in touch with the local dogcatcher, at least they'll grow up obeying the law without any rational thought, voting for either of the two loser parties on Election Day, and paying their confiscatory taxes to the state with nary a grumble. The government will continue to roll and its schools will continue to churn out the next generation of the walking brain dead - all according to plan. To the extent that it has worked to achieve this goal, civics education in this country has been very successful.
Harry Goslin welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
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