Whatever Happened to "Civics?"
When I was a boy, “civics” or “social studies” were an inevitable part of our grade school educations from about third grade until graduation from high school. Over the years, we were infected with our individual concepts of “the American Dream.” As youngsters, we were taught to fear “communists,” and when they took over Cuba, and the Soviet Union attempted to install missiles there, we saw our parents displaying a surprising level of concern, even hysteria.
Soon after, our individual concepts of “the American Dream” were challenged by our country’s war in Southeast Asia. The Vietnam War created division and rancor throughout our society in ways we had never imagined. Our President was murdered, and then the champion of the civil rights movement, and the brother of the slain President, a peacemaker in his own right. A new phenomenon happened upon the scene, and we began to hear theories of “conservative” versus “liberal” explanations of what America was all about. We put men on the moon and brought them back safely, and we lost the war in Vietnam. Another President was found to be a crook and forced to resign. Americans were taken hostage in Iran, and now we know that illegal, covert arms sales to Iran ransomed their release… just as a new President was taking office. He said catsup was a vegetable for schoolchildren, and called terrorists in Central America “freedom fighters.” America began a confusing, expensive involvement in the Middle East that has lasted until today. Another war, this time in Afghanistan, has gone largely unnoticed for 19 years. Today our President calls our war dead “losers” or “suckers,” and his political opponent a “monster” and a “communist.” And, sadly, “civics” is no longer taught in schools. Americans have little faith in our form of government, but no better system has come along. We can only hope our country survives these times, and that today’s school children might know the freedoms embodied in “the American Dream.”