“Democracy – not economic development, not career preparation, or self-actualization – must stand foremost again as the animating purpose of college.”
W. Taylor Reveley IV, President of Longwood University in Virginia.
This is one of my mantras. Civic ignorance in this country is appalling. There are institutional reasons for this but there are other reasons as well. It’s just too plane easy to discount the value of knowledge in the workings of government or our own civic responsibilities. It certainly can be argued that education itself has been relegated to a series of vocational training segments. There are those that believe civics is just another useless component of the liberal arts. Where is the value if it does not directly equate to a specific job skill? There are obvious exceptions to this line of thinking but the monetization of education, shrouded in the backdrop of a disinterested citizenry, has seen the teaching of civics incrementally fade from view. Besides, all we have to do is to watch, read, or listen to our favorite political pundit right?
What has always made the United States exceptional is its unique form of democratic/republicanism, its adherence to the rule of law, and its support of its own foundational institutions. It is the very fabric of the nation and is as important as the economic system we adhere to. A knowledge in civics is no less significant than a basic understanding of economics and the mastery of applied skills set necessary to function in an ever changing global environment. If our system of governance is undervalued our nation becomes undervalued.