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Friday, September 13, 2013

Teaching Patriotism in School

Today I sat in on a class of 6th grade boys and they were learning about holidays around the world. Since it was close to the 4th of July they were studying Independence Day in the US. The students did a reading about the history surrounding the 4th of July and the modern day traditions. What surprised me was the students actually had substantial background information about the celebration and US culture. Coincidently the Argentine Independence day is the 9th of July so the teacher had the students compare and contrast the Argentine and US celebration. What I found interesting was that the students knew more about the US celebration then the one in their own country. I spoke with the teacher about this and she explained to me that the students are not taught patriotism in school. There is no pledge of allegiance, national anthem, or classroom celebration for national holidays. This was the first time it occurred to me that putting an emphasis on patriotism in schools was not a universal practice but something unique to US education. When I described to the student what students in the US have to do to show respect and loyalty to their country, they found it strange and asked me why we do that. Their question caught me off guard, as I had never really considered the purpose of this practice in schools. Now that I am considering it, I can’t decide if it is an important value to teach to students or not. What do students really gain from doing things like reciting the pledge of allegiance everyday?    

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