The Value of Civics and a Good Book

I am about to out myself on how old I am, but it’s all for a good cause. Civics classes went away sometime during the 1960s, which means that, although I will be turning 57 next month and was born in the 1960s, by the time I reached middle school and high school, civics classes had been completely replaced by social studies classes or bits and pieces of it was combined into history courses. All of which means we are effectively three-generations deep into complete ignorance on how our government, both local and federal, operates, as well as understanding our own obligations as U.S. citizens.

Fortunately for me, I have a curious mind and I am an avid reader, which means I have slowly (and still am) teaching myself the basics, such as finding Iran and Poland on a map and what forms of government are practiced around the globe. I didn’t go to the best of schools in my formative years and I don’t remember once being taught basic geography much less political and social movements. What little I do remember of history class was mostly American history, primarily the civil war. As a young adult, I had no knowledge of who Mussolini or Mao was or what occurred during both world wars. I was cheated, and we are cheating our children.

Suffice it to say, it is past time to bring civics back to the classroom. A survey done in 2012 of American citizens found that one in three could not pass the civics portion of the immigrant naturalization test that immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship must pass. I haven’t taken the test, but I am sure I would also not pass. This isn’t just hypocritical of us, it’s dangerous. It’s why I just cringe when I watch Mark Dice’s, Man on the Streets videos, where he asks Americans simple civic or historical questions. Sadly, his videos mostly just highlight the ignorance of ordinary Americans on such simple questions as why we celebrate Independence Day on July 4.

Americans should be educated on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and how policy decisions are made within our government. Without this knowledge, we are open to exploitation by our own government officials. Abuse of the judicial system and presidential executive orders have already occurred and we will only continue to go down this path unless educated Americans push back. Who remembers former President Obama’s unprecedented appointment of unelected czars?

Although I received a poor education in our public schools, I was fortunate that my mother was a born reader and constantly encouraged me to read, read, read, even bribing me with the then astronomical sum of $10 at the age of 7 if I finished a book on Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys. And it worked, she soon had me reading Nancy Drew books, even enrolling me in a Nancy Drew book club. I can still remember today the excitement I felt when a new book would arrive in our mailbox. I continued to read mostly fiction until I was in my late 20s, when I began to read some cultural and historical classics. By the time I was in my mid 30s, I was reading biographies of important historical figures and history books.

Today, I enjoy reading about political movements on communism and fascists world leaders and yes, even war. I have found that the real world is far more interesting than any fiction I could bury myself in. My love of reading and our nation, has propelled me on a lifelong self-taught journey to understand history and the leaders, both good and bad, that have shaped our world.

But instilling a desire to self-learn and understand our world doesn’t come naturally for children, which is why we must mandate that civics and history be taught in public schools. And why we must also set up programs that encourage children to read rather than skim headlines on vapid Hollywood stars and rappers who are just a flash in the pan on the world stage. Rather than tell children what they must believe, we must give them the tools to explore for themselves. According to a 2015 Scholastic survey, the number of American children who say they love reading books for fun has dropped almost 10 percent in the last four years. I understand the pull of video games and on-demand streaming, but like anything worthwhile, we must work for the knowledge we wish to acquire.

According to a report on the survey in the Guardian, “Scholastic also surveyed the parents of children between the ages of zero and five for the first time this year in an attempt to discover what made children frequent readers. The report found that a six to 11-year-old child is more likely to be a frequent reader if they are currently read aloud to at home, if they were also read aloud to five to seven days a week before starting nursery, and if they are less likely to use a computer for fun.” No doubt, my mother was on to something, even if she was unaware of it. And because I love to read, both of my children enjoyed reading, although one is too busy working and raising a family today to read for pleasure, though I hope she reads aloud to her children.

While Trump is the head of a populist movement and is stirring a passion in the breasts of many Americans for their country, we must do more. We must be teaching and preparing the next generation to take back our government from the hands of the progressives who have worked tirelessly to tear down our institutions and seek a communist-style of government. They have have taken over our educational systems and those chickens in the form of left-wing NGOs and Antifa have come home to roost.

If we are to succeed in draining the swamp, we must first drain our state schools of poisonous propaganda and replace it with real history. It is incumbent upon us to provide children with the context they so desperately seek to understand their role in the world and how they are to grow up and find their place in it. One of the reasons Dr. Jordan B. Peterson took the world of young men by storm, was he ignited their imaginations with truth and helps them to understand their place and importance in the world. In a secular educational system and a culture devoid of religion or any personal, individual responsibility to those around us, his lectures have shed light on the fundamental human question we all ask of ourselves: “Why I am I here?”

Even as a child, I read books on interesting young men and even one plucky pioneer girl who were instrumental in their time in opening up the western territories of the United States. I devoured children’s books on the lives of Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett. I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie series—all books that stoked a child’s imagination for adventure, survival and possibility. I read virtual tombs on Lewis and Clark and the Indian Sacajawea. I was left in awe of Meriwether Lewis’ ability to understand nature and his ability to articulate his thoughts and observations in his well written journals. I was left so fascinated by Sacajawea’s life that I went on a personal journey reading about the Indians of the East and the West. Learning about the various tribes, their histories and our own government’s betrayals and broken treaties.

Students must be taught about our rights and obligations as citizens, not whether we include historical information on the LGBT movement in our curriculum. They must be taught about the great historical figures that formed this nation, not how it was all empirical whites seeking to stomp out the brown and black man. The framework of our Republic and those who believed in its ideals must be taught and understood first if children are to grow into adults who understand the issues of our times, the nation they are stewards over and their civic duty to actually participate in our government.

The ignorance of Antifa, who actually believe they are fighting Nazi ideals, is one very clear example of how a generation of passionate young people have been misinformed on history and are being used as pawns for a nefarious communist movement. They are the real victims of those who shamelessly take advantage of their ignorance, changing the language so that today, if you love your country and believe in law and order, you are labeled a fascist. They are using violence to perpetuate their ideals rather than skill and ideas with merit.

On my nightstand today is Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society, Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg and J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. Let me know what you’re currently reading and if you have a favorite historical book you’d love everyone to read. And for all of our sake’s, read out loud to your children and grandchildren so we can all #Reignwell.