Date: July 25, 2003
Subject: The purpose of social studies II

As I ponder the purpose of social studies education, which according to Minnesota Statue comprises U.S. history, geography, economics, and government and citizenship (i.e., "civics"), I find that Diane Ravitch said it well:

"Our ability to defend -- intelligently and thoughtfully -- what we as a nation hold dear depends on our knowledge and understanding of what we hold dear." --Diane Ravitch

Along the same lines:

"...[W]ithout the knowledge of who we are as a people and what we stand for, we are creating a situation where our liberty could be in jeopardy. Our freedom, our strength as a country is threatened by this lack of knowledge." --Victoria Hughes

"If a nation expects to be ignorant -- and free -- in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson

"To honor every president is to honor no president. Which is what Presidents' Day does. ...Slowly but without question -- and Presidents' Day is only one example -- Americans are forgetting and ignoring the men and events that have made this nation great." --Lyn Nofziger

Others have also provided us with food for thought:

"The philosophy of the schoolhouse one generation will be the philosophy of the Government in the next." --Abraham Lincoln

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." --John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election, 1790.

"Our country was not predestined to prosper; it did so through choices made at its Founding and renewed every generation since: the choices of freedom over rule, property over collectivization, the liberty of the individual human spirit over the dictates of the enlightened few." --James S. Robbins

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

From the Founders:

"If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great secruity." --Samuel Adams

"A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins." -- Benjamin Franklin