July 8, 2014 in Letters, Opinion

Teach citizenship skills


This is a late but, I believe, needed response to George Nethercutt’s May 11 guest column, “Civics crucial for the future.”

Contrary to what Nethercutt implies, history is an integral and essential part of civics. The present cannot be accurately assessed, or the future responsibly prepared for, without an accurate understanding of the past. For generations, history books that were imposed on impressionable young minds contained many omissions and distortions.

The great philosopher/educator John Dewey felt a major failure in American education was training children to come up with the one right answer rather than be stimulated to pursue a deeper understanding. And that democracy can’t survive without citizens educated to doubt, observe and evaluate evidence objectively from the perspective of morality.

Schools could go a long way in developing problem-solving and citizenship skills in students by opening up classrooms to discussion on such value-centered issues as: justice in the economy and criminal justice system (including capital punishment); U.S. foreign policy, past and present; racism; and the impending ecological crisis (including global warming).

This might give them the grounding, as Dewey envisioned, “to save the world.”

Buell Hollister


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