By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner;
Surveys for years have shown an appalling lack of knowledge of civics and history among even the supposed educational elite in America – and appreciation for the nation’s founding documents, principles, and principals seems to be falling among current students even as older Americans have created a thriving market for books on the subject.
Just two weeks ago, I was in a group of older folks (relatively speaking – I’m 53) talking with eight or nine students at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, and early in the proceedings one of us fogeys mentioned 56 delegates of the Second Continental Congress having pledged “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to their cause. Thinking that I saw a lack of familiarity, among the current students, with that reference, I returned to it an hour later (without specifically referencing my compatriot’s earlier comment) to ask who could identify the source of the “lives/fortunes/honor” phrase.
Most of the students looked blankly ahead.
One, suddenly remembering the earlier comment, said, “yeah, that’s something that a bunch of members of the Second Continental Congress said.”
Me: “Yes, but what document did that pledge come from?”
No answer. No clue. Astonishing.
The point is not to belittle those fine students. The point is that even as they made it to the ranks of the academic elite, they obviously were deprived of anything approaching a decent edcuation….
[later in the column…]
Fortunately, it’s not just conservatives who recognize this. Famed academic E.D. Hirsch Jr., a self-described liberal writing in the just-released Spring issue of the journal Democracy, laments that “school neglect of factual knowledge, including American history and its civic principles, joined with a general de-emphasis of ‘rote learning’ and ‘mere fact,’ induced a decline in widely shared factual knowledge among Americans. This not only weakened their ability to read and communicate; it has left them with weaker patriotic sentiments, and with a diminished feeling that they are in the same boat with Americans of other races, ethnicities, and political outlooks.”….
For the rest of this column, including a return to the subject of the new museum, please do follow this link.