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Put the ‘Civil’ Back in ‘Civilization’

March 21, 2024

Famed philosopher and author G.K. Chesterton once wrote that “America is the only country ever founded on a creed.” Visiting a classroom today, however, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone teaching a unique American civic identity.

Rather, today’s schools use every identity except the American one as a lens to teach students. While students increasingly are unable to identify the branches of government, much less tell you their functions, they are more exposed to the dogmas of progressive identity politics, such as intersectionality and critical race theory, than ever before.

Is there an opportunity in our culture to regain an understanding of traditional American civics?

In a recent New Yorker piece, “Have the Liberal Arts Gone Conservative?,” Emma Green spotlights the classical education movement in America, which has been growing rapidly through the continued emergence of private and charter schools focused on a traditional liberal arts curriculum. While many of these schools maintain a reading list mirroring that of 18th-century Harvard, this education hasn’t been reserved for the academic elite. As the article illustrates, enrollment among minority students has been growing swiftly in states such as Texas and Arizona.

Read the rest of the op-ed at Washington Examiner.

Tyler Bonin is the civics education specialist at the Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy.



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