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WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CIVICS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 24, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Is it gone with the wind?.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Something you don’t hear much about anymore in American classrooms is “Civics” which was intended to teach the basic duties and responsibilities of citizens. Sometimes the class was called “American Government” as well. Regardless, the intent was to teach the mechanics of our government and citizenship. Unfortunately, you don’t hear too much about Civics anymore, which is a pity as I believe there are a lot of people operating without even a basic understanding of what is going on in this country. This is why I believe everyone should be certified to be a citizen rather than just by birth right.

In my Civics class, we discussed the various branches and levels of government, how legislation was processed, serving on juries, and of course the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. The Declaration is a pretty impressive document, but to me, the Constitution is one of the most brilliant inventions ever devised by man, particularly when you consider the political climate of the time when it was written. Its three branches of government, with its checks and balances, was a bold experiment, yet, when you read it, you are struck by the simple common sense embodied within it.

James Madison is generally regarded as the “Father of the Constitution” as he took the lead in its development. Madison’s education concentrated on such subjects as languages, philosophy, and speech. His studies also included a few law classes, but he never gained admission to the bar. So, here you have the principal author of our government’s most important document who is more skilled in communications than in law. This is in sharp contrast to today’s Congressmen who are more likely to be lawyers as opposed to any other occupation. Consider this, the original U.S. Constitution was written on just four pages, less the Bill of Rights which was handled separately. Admittedly, these were rather large pages by today’s standards, but it was still four pages in length. Compare this to the recent Health Insurance Reform Bill which was over 2,000 pages long; even the summary was 121 pages. It kind of makes you wonder what today’s Congress would have produced had they been charged with Madison’s responsibility. I can’t help but believe I would prefer the simplicity and directness of Madison’s version instead.

As an aside, I find it rather strange the Constitution has become an icon associated with conservatism in this country. It should be a symbol for all of us.

One of the most important lessons stressed in my Civics class was the need for people to become active and responsible citizens. It didn’t preach disobedience, treachery or anarchy, although this was certainly described. Instead, it discussed the duties of the citizens such as enacting changes through peaceful means, e.g., the ballot box. When I go to my polling station today, I get the uneasy feeling that a lot of people do not know what they’re doing there and what they should be voting for or against. To me, this is downright scary.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, people take their civic responsibilities too lightly. Most are uneducated. In the absence of a bona fide Civics class, people should be required to at least pass the citizenship test as published by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

More than anything, our Civics class taught us that citizenship is something to be prized, and not taken for granted. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s this way anymore, which is why we have a general flippant attitude towards government and a belief that “someone else is pulling the strings.” Interestingly, it is the American public that still pulls the strings, but with the passing of such things as Civic classes, we’ve forgotten how to do it.

Originally published: May 17, 2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHY THE LEFT HATES DONALD TRUMP – And, No, it has nothing to do with his hair.

LAST TIME:  THE MEDIA’S SELECTIVE HEARING – And, No, it has nothing to do with his hair.

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8 Responses to “WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CIVICS?”

  1. Kevin Schachter said

    It is a requirement in Florida to pass a course in American Government, so that is not the problem. Perhaps too many people feel that no matter what they do, the system is rigged, and their actions are moot.

    Like

  2. You touched upon a very valid point that I have wondered about since graduating from high school in the 1980’s.

    My senior year of high school, Civics course was required for graduation in the State of Ohio.

    The class year/ coursework consisted of Civics/ Problems of Democracy for half the school year, and Constitutional Law the remaining half.

    I am often dismayed to meet persons younger than myself that have no idea of how our form of government is supposed to work, but I have also noticed that with all the “free” public libraries full of books too many persons my age or younger are unable to read & comprehend at an 8th grade level.

    You summed up this article with “citizenship is something to be prized, and not taken for granted.”

    Apparently, too many people in this country didn’t get that memo…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A P.E. of Detroit, Michigan wrote…

    “Nice article Tim and I couldn’t agree more. Back when I went to school in Illinois we had to take a “civics” exam in 8th grade.
    We had to pass that exam to get into high school. My son had nothing similar in his education.”

    Like

  4. Francis Dryden said

    As a Canadian, I always have admired how my American neighbors knew about their country and their government but quite frankly until you mentioned “Civics” Tim, I did not understand how they knew all of these things.

    Snotty Canadians always (and to this day) made mockery of Americans “not knowing much about Canada” but I am here to tell you that Canadians don’t know much about Canada either!

    The problem that I do have now is that it always seemed that Americans would have their elections with Republicans arguing with Democrats who was the greatest BUT after the election of the President it was “Hail to the Chief”… everyone rolled up their collective sleeves and got to work… THAT IS GONE! Pity!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CIVICS? […]

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    An S.M. of Mountain Home, Idaho wrote…

    “Yes, and don’t forget the 70,000 pages of the tax code. Thanks for sharing this post. It’s a reminder of how far we’ve moved from the simplicity of the intention of our founding fathers.”

    Like

  7. “What happened to Civics” is a parallel circumstance to “what happened to state history classes.” Both lost (either in terms of emphasis, rigor or existence, to the Left’s priority of keeping citizens ignorant of how the system is designed to work (and why) and how important a piece the focus upon state and local history is to maintain a federal system over unitary control. Years and decades of ‘not knowing’ morph into ‘not caring,’ and the battle is ultimately lost in the development of curricula that emphasize diversity, race, gender…ad nauseam.

    Like

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