Schools shouldn’t teach nationalistic agenda, and shouldn’t gloss over hard truths

Posted 4 August 2020 at 9:07 am


In a recent letter submitted to the Orleans Hub, the author advocated for schools to instill a sense of patriotism and avoid political correctness. I worry that this is an inefficient and dangerous use of an educational system.

A simple definition of the term patriotism may be in order for a clearer idea on the subject to arise. At its base level, most would agree that patriotism is a love for one’s country. This is not a terrible thing in and of itself and can result in passionate people pushing the country to better itself.

I worry that this definition does not fit the previous author’s use of the term, however. A better word for the situation that Mr. Lauricella describes may be nationalism, where one feels a superiority over other nations and looks past their own nation’s failings (which, of course, every nation has). Nationalism breeds selfishness and arrogance. At the height of its influence it dragged European nations into the first World War and the United States into its many 20th Century conflicts. Nationalism is not something to instill in our students.

I worry that Mr. Lauricella has not visited a classroom in quite some time. As someone who has substitute taught and is currently in graduate school for secondary education, I may be able to assist in updating Mr. Lauricella to today’s educational climate. As far as I am aware, the Niagara-Orleans and Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES programs still supply many students with a robust technical education that prepares them to work in trade jobs.

Most students are also competent in science, mathematics, social studies, and ELA by graduating. It is, after all, a graduation requirement for most high schools. Additionally, the Common Core, while lacking in its implementation, seeks to ensure that high school students graduate with college-ready (not necessary) skill sets. The educational world may not be perfect, but it is not quite so dystopian yet.

As for the concerns over the violence in the country, they are somewhat warranted. Everybody should be leery of those seeking to exact violence onto others. However, I do not agree with the causes of these incidents being found in the classroom. Multiculturalism has always existed in this country; any St. Patrick’s or Dyngus Day parade is evidence of that. There is no singular American Experience.

Still, this does not mean that students do not read the Constitution. They are taught the Bill of Rights, elastic clause, and judicial review. However, they are also taught that, according to the United Nations definition, the treatment of Native Americans in the United States is a genocide.

They are taught that the founding fathers owning slaves does actually make them racist (most people alive during that time were). They are taught that the United States instigated a war with Mexico to buy the American South-West for $10 million less than they offered Mexico for California alone. It is arrogant to paint a picture of America that does not have the United States as the villain every once in a while. Just like it would be arrogant if I were to assume I have always been justified in every action I have taken. This is not brainwashing, this is the past as it happened.

I love my country. I know that it has given hope to millions of people for a better life. I know it has also committed terrible acts to harm the lives of millions. It is ignorant to ignore these incidents in favor of the myth of American Exceptionalism. Instead, I want my country to be better and improve. That requires telling students the truth and hoping that they love and care enough about the U.S. to come closer to achieving the ideals of all men being created equal and securing the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is patriotism.

Kyle Thaine