Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Education gets another subject: Patriotism

The Diet begins debate on the basic education law for the first time since its inception in 1947. One of the features that may change as a result would be the additional burden of instilling a sense of patriotism in students. Schools would be in charge of fostering public spirit, tradition, and patriotism if the law were to change as expected. You can find the links I googled here.

Patriotism is fine. I don't mean weird, flag waving, love-it-or-leave-it, Bushesque "if you criticize the war you are unpatriotic" stuff. A good healthy understanding that simply by being born in some countries, those people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths and owe it to the rest of the world to do what they do best and do it for humanity. The children of modern Japan being one of those. It's fine to be proud of the place of your birth.

I doubt whether public education is the place to instill those values, though. Public education has always been a place where ideas of patriotism are knocked around to various degrees. In America kids say, or at least said when I was a school boy, the Pledge of Allegiance. Here there is more and more of that, but the country didn't even have a national anthem or flag until recently.

Public education doesn't even do a very good job with readin', writin' and 'rithmatic. Leave the patriotism to the family or institutions like the Scouts and let schools get on with the basics.


daniel said...

I don't really want to get into who should/shouldn't be promoting patriotism but I would point out:

Public schools are precisely the place where one would expect THE STATE to advocate/promote love of THE STATE. Sure, love of one's native land is not necessarily the same as love for the government ruling the land, but don't they often go together...which is what makes patriotism so offensive to some folks.

Daniel said...

I agree, daniel, that public schools are the place where one would expect the state to promote itself. I'm going to write a follow-up to this post.