After teaching civics for 25 years, I have observed a decline in our kids’ faith

You may have a valid concern about the broken state of American schools.

As a teacher with over 25 years of experience, I’ve witnessed apathy and unhappiness in our kids that is unprecedented.

While graduation rates are on the rise, proficiency scores are declining. Surprisingly, less than half of Americans can name the three branches of government. Additionally, a significant number of college graduates believe that Judge Judy is a member of the Supreme Court.

However, ignorance is just a symptom of a larger democratic crisis.

The root cause of this increasing ignorance among students is the belief that the nation, its institutions, and history are irredeemable.

Why bother learning about something not worth saving?

While ignorance can be addressed, cynicism breeds generational decay.

It’s shocking to learn that a significant percentage of Gen Z regard the American Founders as “villains” and some even view Osama bin Laden’s ideas as “a force for good.”

Students have expressed a preference to leave the country rather than serve during World War II, citing America as uniquely bad.

For most students, cynicism is reflexive rather than the product of thoughtful consideration.

While some students refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, they struggle to articulate their reasons for doing so.

As an educator, these trends are concerning and can lead to feelings of complicity due to worries about offending modern sensibilities.

Recently, former students have criticized my patriotism, optimism, and belief in the perpetuation of American ideals.

This culture of cynicism has a specific cause.

Cynics in positions of power seek to fixate America to a particular negative moment in its history, fostering generational cynicism.

Teaching cynicism to children is particularly dangerous in a time of widespread American unhappiness, especially among young people.

The loss of faith in traditional pillars of life, such as family, church, and school, contributes to this generation’s cynicism.

While acknowledging American mistakes is crucial, fetishizing cynicism and promoting national self-loathing is counterproductive.

This loss of faith extends beyond young people and affects a significant portion of American adults.

Amidst this environment, it is essential to highlight examples from the past that inspire faith and patriotism, rather than pessimism.

By exploring the stories of American heroes, we can renew our belief in the nation and its ideals.

One memorable quote from the father of future Sen. Daniel Inouye emphasizes the importance of honoring one’s country and family with dignity.

Regrettably, few people echo this sentiment in today’s society.

As an educator, parent, and concerned citizen, I emphasize the significance of learning by example. We are shaped by the examples set before us, for better or worse.

There is a wealth of inspiration in America’s past, waiting to be uncovered and shared.

However, this rediscovery can only begin when we rekindle our belief in America. This renewal can start in the classroom.

Jeremy S. Adams is the author of the forthcoming book “Lessons in Liberty: Thirty Rules for Living from Ten Extraordinary Americas” (HarperCollins).

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