Saturday, October 16, 2010

Educating a Civil Society

From a 2002 essay by historian Victor Davis Hanson on the civic education America needs:

The classical idea of civic virtue—the adult citizen accepts responsibilities in exchange for carefully delineated rights—is all but gone. In its place, the new dispensation defined every person (including every young person) as, foremost, a rights-bearing individual rather than a citizen with obligations inseparable from his privileges; thus the era of “citizenship” education truly came to an end, and accordingly the “citizenship” categories had to disappear from the report cards of the nation’s elementary schools. The pupil-citizen no longer was obliged to keep his desk clean for others or to accord his teachers courtesy, but instead sometimes sued to be allowed to wear an obscene T-shirt to school or to demand due process when disciplined for plagiarism, dishonesty, or hooliganism. Who now could even imagine giving a grade in “courtesy” or “civility” to a high schooler in a T-shirt emblazoned pimp? What can one learn of citizenship at schools whose administrators, embracing moral equivalence, suspend bullies and their victims alike when fisticuffs break out?

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