Tuesday 16 January 2018

Democracy needs to begin in schools

Recent events reported in the media included: violence directed against elected officers carrying out their constitutional duties on the streets of Ireland; violent language by leading members of the opposition parties in which they described members of Government as traitors; a segment of the press which stated that certain bankers should be shot; and recently the desecration of a minister's office in political protest, indicate a failure of the Irish education system to prepare citizens for a society based on democratic principles.

A recent letter writer correctly wrote: "One of the great failures of the State has been the inability to ensure that every child received a thorough education in civics, government and law." To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, if a nation expects its citizens to be uneducated about the workings of democracy, democracy cannot be sustained in such a nation.

Critical thinking and logic are almost non-existent disciplines in Irish education. Incidentally, I spent 35 years teaching political economics to 18-year-old students in California. The state requires one year of the subject for students preparing to graduate from secondary school.

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