I’ve been reading The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. I am trying to find my way to the root causes of the breakdown of American culture. Since I have been spending my time tutoring refugees, I am particularly focussed on the schools. So I was encouraged to hear that Arizona is making them teach English so that kids graduate knowing how to read it. I hope that spreads to every state so that immigrants get taught English before they graduate from high school…preferably before they try to learn anything else! Of course, since so many American graduates are functionally illiterate, I hope they have to learn English, too.
I can’t believe the changes to schools since my own experience. I hate to think of the sort of place we send kids; it is often dangerous from lack of discipline and pointless from lack of education. If we are to have a future in this country, we must take back the schools!
Bloom observes that the Bible once tied Americans together. Now schools try to prevent even the words “Merry Christmas!” This year seems to have spawned a backlash. I am hopeful but cautious. Still, it’s a long way back to where the Bible represents a common language or culture among us. I’ll take that over Playboy or MTV.
As I was looking for a graphic to go with this brief post, I realized it was a topic worth revisiting in more detail. A nation, it would seem, must be a people who share something, who have things or ideas in common, and who define themselves as apart from others outside the nation. We’ve had such things in the past, but do we still; if we do, are they the same things or different things? What about those who come with their own alternate view of what those things should be? Clearly, the majority will determine this formally or informally, but what does the majority regard our common values to be? It’s a topic for another time.