Tragically today at best an appreciable percentage of Americans only have “corporate’s” Heathciff notes version of America’s history and zero knowledge about world history …which explains how we elected Trump

…Tragically today at best an appreciable percentage of Americans only have “corporate’s” Heathciff notes version of America’s history and zero knowledge about world history …which explains how we elected Trump…

Ralph Nader on What Should Be Essential Teaching in Schools

Let’s start with teaching civic skills and actions.

By Ralph Nader / Truthdig  …The taproots of democracy and its plentiful benefits start with the people, of course, but more specifically with the educational experience the next generation of leaders receives in their schooling.

 

The corporate power structures know this truism in a perverse way. Through their influence, both inside our schools and beyond, they press for curricula that teach complacency and obedience instead of understanding how the principles of democracy can be utilized to dismantle the power structures serving the few over the many.

From the earliest years of our schooling, we are inundated with a distorted view of history—though since Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States” and its awakenings, more of the grim realities of the ruling classes’ history of plunder have been brought to light. Still, power, law and the workings of democratic institutions past and present are rarely part of schooling in America.

Just ask middle and high school students about their society’s basic institutions, courts, trial by jury, the law of wrongful injuries (tort law), or about their civil rights and liberties — and the duties that accompany these rights — and you’re likely to draw blank gazes. In 2006, a poll revealed that more high school students knew the names of the Three Stooges than the names of the three branches of government. Just last year after my address to the student assembly of a preparatory school, a small gathering of students who wanted to talk could not name their state’s governor, senators or representatives to Congress — notwithstanding the ballyhooed information source that is misnamed the “smartphone” in their hands.

The imbalance between the vocational emphasis in education and the civic experience is vast. Civics, as a topic, is not a standalone subject in most schools anymore. And where it is, the textbooks are so dry, dreary and self-censoring of controversial subjects that reading them is like reading a microwave oven manual.

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