Citizenship to Counter Militancy

The government of Great Britain is introducing a new citizenship curriculum which focuses on learning about other cultures as well as dealing with topics such as world wide warming. Undoubtedly, an unstated assumption is that learning about other people will result in lessening hostility on the part of children from minority groups toward the society. An interesting hypothesis, but there is little evidence learning something in school necessarily translates into loving one’s nation.

A more important factor is the slow death of an historical consciousness among young people. Shared memory is what binds people of a society, and today there is less and less evidence young people have that shared memory. Then again, there is less evidence people under fifty have a sense of shared memory. The proposed civics program has to be linked to economic opportunities for success, new housing programs providing decent homes for those who are in poverty, new programs to connect young people to the police and vice versa, and concrete evidence government responds to the needs of its population.

My hunch is civics in itself is not very successful. Perhaps, we have to find new ways to get students into history. I have always argued the best initial step is to get them into their personal and family history. That might spark interest in the broader history of the nation.