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What Patriotism is and What Should be Taught about Patriotism in Schools

A discussion of what patriotism is and it being taught in the school systems today.

And if you are anywhere near as long in the tooth as I am, you probably recall with some considerable pleasure as I do the patriotic feelings (not "fervor but feelings) that I identify with an earlier time in America. Yes, there were occasional relatives and even teachers whose political disappointments during the great depression led them to demean our nation.

But it was first and foremost a nation that four times over chose Franklin D. Roosevelt as
president, that rejected, dreaded counsels of despair, that fought and won a great war against totalitarianism a nation where moments in its history were surely to be deplored, but whose essential heritage remained ever bright and shining, where patriotism was real, not legislated. Well, all of these thoughts and of learning in school sir Walter Scott's memorable words: "breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to himself hath said,'this is mown, my native land!" all of those thoughts were rekindled for me recently by a slim but quite provocative volume published by Teachers College press and edited by my guest today, Joel Westheimer, professor and university research cha in democracy and education at the University of Ottawa.

 Its title:  pledging allegiance, the politic of patriotism in America's schools. In his introduction, professor Westheimer writes I should explain, then, what some readers may perceive as bias in the content of this book." I'll ask him to explain so right now.  Westheimer: that's a great starting question, dick, thank you. Heffner: what did you mean by it? Westheimer: well, first of all I want to say that the book intentially has a broad variety of contributors that, that do run the spectrum about what patriotism is and what should be taught about patriotism in schools. But there is a certain "bias" as I called it in the introduction to those who are talking about a particular kind of patriotism that I call "democratic.”

This article appeared in the July 21, 2007 edition of the WNET-TV (PBS)  CH 13 (New York

Published Wednesday, Jul. 25, 2007

What Patriotism is and What Should be Taught about Patriotism in Schools

And if you are anywhere near as long in the tooth as I am, you probably recall with some considerable pleasure as I do the patriotic feelings (not "fervor but feelings) that I identify with an earlier time in America. Yes, there were occasional relatives and even teachers whose political disappointments during the great depression led them to demean our nation.

But it was first and foremost a nation that four times over chose Franklin D. Roosevelt as
president, that rejected, dreaded counsels of despair, that fought and won a great war against totalitarianism a nation where moments in its history were surely to be deplored, but whose essential heritage remained ever bright and shining, where patriotism was real, not legislated. Well, all of these thoughts and of learning in school sir Walter Scott's memorable words: "breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to himself hath said,'this is mown, my native land!" all of those thoughts were rekindled for me recently by a slim but quite provocative volume published by Teachers College press and edited by my guest today, Joel Westheimer, professor and university research cha in democracy and education at the University of Ottawa.

 Its title:  pledging allegiance, the politic of patriotism in America's schools. In his introduction, professor Westheimer writes I should explain, then, what some readers may perceive as bias in the content of this book." I'll ask him to explain so right now.  Westheimer: that's a great starting question, dick, thank you. Heffner: what did you mean by it? Westheimer: well, first of all I want to say that the book intentially has a broad variety of contributors that, that do run the spectrum about what patriotism is and what should be taught about patriotism in schools. But there is a certain "bias" as I called it in the introduction to those who are talking about a particular kind of patriotism that I call "democratic.”

This article appeared in the July 21, 2007 edition of the WNET-TV (PBS)  CH 13 (New York

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