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Education and Patriotism

March 18, 2011

Professors Ken Long, Bob Madden, and I joined two professors from Shanghai Normal University in a discussion of the topic of patriotism in front of an audience of about 60 students and faculty. As we considered how we teach our students love of country, we found that the similarities appeared to end as we reached the university level. We agreed that through the high school years the reading of history, learning patriotic songs and anthems, and ceremonial displays of flags are ways to learn pride in one’s country. However, we found that the American approach of promoting a critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of our country’s practices was not a strategy adopted by our Chinese colleagues. Their questions suggested that they were intrigued by, but unconvinced about the effectiveness of, this idea.  Still, the eagerness with which Chinese students from high school through university learn English and work diligently to attain acceptance to U.S. institutions of higher learning suggest that we offer something in our country that is highly desirable… and our higher education system is certainly one of the aspects of our country that makes us proud.

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