Thursday, January 13, 2011

Civics and the Constitution

Linda Greenhouse has an excellent article today on the difficulties of interpreting the Constitution. It's well worth a read.

What really interested me though was her bit on older civics classes in high school, including a Problems of Democracy course. Something I agree on with many conservatives is that a lack of civics classes is a significant problem (though I probably think the curriculum should be far different than what they'd like, which is probably why we don't have them anymore, though it does say something about our common culture as Americans that we could have them then but can't agree on enough now. Who is it that changed?). People just don't know our history or how our government functions and haven't been asked to think about it in a challenging fashion. These questions just aren't easy and I don't think that can be recognized unless people are being asked to think about it, and more particularly, being asked to think about it in an environment like high school where you're with people not really of your own choosing who will have fairly widely varying viewpoints. Admittedly, Greenhouse admits that her Problems of Democracy course didn't get into these questions, but that doesn't mean a civics class that does ask these questions is impossible. It could be part of that loner school day I've advocated for.

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