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ERIC Number: EJ864090
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Should Social Studies Be Patriotic?
Westheimer, Joel
Social Education, v73 n7 p316-320 Nov-Dec 2009
In November of 2001, less than two months after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Nebraska's state board of education approved a patriotism bill specifying content for the high school social studies curriculum in accordance with the state's 1949 statute--the Nebraska Americanism law. Nebraska was not alone. Within a few months, more than two dozen state legislatures introduced new bills or resurrected old ones aimed at either encouraging or mandating patriotic exercises for all students in schools. Seventeen states enacted new pledge laws or amended policies in the 2002-2003 legislative sessions alone. Since then more than a dozen additional states have signed on as well. Thirty-five states now require the pledge to be recited daily during the school day. Across the country, state legislatures and even the federal Department of Education have aimed policies at recapturing what many citizens see as a lost sense of pride in America. What it means to be patriotic, however, is a matter of considerable debate. Some believe that patriotism requires near-absolute loyalty to government leaders and policies. Others see patriotism as commitment not to the government, but rather to "ideals": democratic ideals such as equality, compassion, and justice. Still others advocate a healthy skepticism toward governmental actions in general, but prefer to close the ranks during times of war or national crisis. Indeed, there are as many ways to express commitment to country as there are ways to show commitment to loved ones or friends. Nowhere are the debates around the various visions of patriotism more pointed, more protracted, and more consequential than in schools. In this article, the author discusses whether and how to teach patriotism as part of social studies education. (Contains 1 table and 12 notes.)
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A