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Civic duty as rite of passage

It's Eriksonian, our children are adrift after high school. There is no rite of passage. There is obesity, sense of entitlement, and lack of cohesion and direction. I think that high school should extend for one year and all students should be required to complete a challenging course on civics and participate in their choice of service duty. Mini military camp, (not to become a killing machine but to learn why it is their duty as an America to defend not offend). Science, Arts and Humanities, local volunteer program, etc... The kids today need to know and understand the tenets of the Constitution, to understand what it means to become a full fledged American and appreciate the quality of life that only a free people can enjoy. In order to do this, to shape their experience and transition successfully into adulthood, they need to have a rite of passage that challenges them, encourages them to be a part of something worthwhile that is greater than themselves. They need to work with their peer to achieve a challenging goal that instills the values the founders laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. This might change our political landscape from a money hungry bloated big brother, big daddy state to more of a by the people for the people kind of land.

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    Jul 16 2013: Thanks for bringing this subject up, Jennifer. It's an important one and it deserves more attention than it has had. The phrase Civic Duty is right on: we have for a long time been excessively concerned about our Rights, and not enough about our Duties. Belonging in a society is a give-and-take affair; our rights, guaranteed by the society, is the "take" part of that equation. It's time to become aware that we must also give to the society. The attitude in the last few decades has seemed to be that we owe society nothing, that it can't demand anything of us. That attitude is destructive.

    I've long favored a national service obligation after high school. Doing 1-1.5 years of mandatory service as part of an organized national service group, like Americorps, would be a needed maturing experience for teenagers. If this were a requirement on all teenagers, I believe we'd get a greater sense of responsibility in our young adults than we often see today, and this would tend to reduce crime and anti-social behavior, as well as giving participants the experience of making friends and working with young people of different geographical and social backgrounds. A certain amount of choice (or at least expression of preference) among types of service ought to be available to the inductees. The military services are perhaps the best choice for many, because nothing teaches self-discipline, teamwork, and sense of responsibility as well as the military. I am very much in favor of demilitarizing the world, but I hold the services very high for their excellent training of young people. (And they don't glorify killing; most military jobs don't involve firing weapons.)
  • Jul 10 2013: Hello Steve,

    Essentially, a rite of passage is a challenge that the child goes through with their peers. One that is intended to instill the values and the skills needed to navigate into adulthood. I merely suggest military but it need not be. It could be any civic type of challenge that is recognized by the local community or country. Have you ever been in the military? Going through boot camp is a perfect example of a rite of passage. The hard mental and physical work is rewarded with acceptance into the fold.

  • Jul 8 2013: I agree about the need for a rite of passage. Maybe these things can be discussed at a child's birthday parties - what have they learned in the last year, and what should they learn in the next year? This should be done in earnest about age 12, 18, & 25 at least.
    I'd disagree with the "military" training - we see our fill of that already!
    Other than that, I think they just need to see such direct actions by adults leading by example.
  • Jul 7 2013: Hello Friend,

    Thank you for your feedback and comments!
    I agree with your assessment of "rite of passage". To be indoctrinated in the values that formed this more perfect union, first they must fully understand the history of the U.S. and the privileged and responsibility that awaits them as they enter into adulthood. I also concur with your political assessment and hope that learning the many Constitutional revisions, and a deeper understanding of their own particular laws, they may come to realize that the interpretations may or may not sit well with them. They may come to be more of the type of citizens the founders had in mind, and begin to wield their own mighty vote.

    As I say, forming the program would have to be a private sector endeavor. In time it may become a model for the country.

  • Jul 4 2013: Again, the reply button is not working, but thanks for the question Fritzie.

    In answer to your question: Jennifer, could I ask what brings you to these issues? Are you a student? It's just something that I have thought about, along with other social issues which contribute to smear our species. I think being a human is an amazing thing, a gift. I think we are awesome and we have the ability to construct or destroy. I chose to think in terms of how to contribute in a meaningful way to our society, to think in terms of improvement for our species while protecting all of the diverse forms that share our planet, as well as the Earth itself. Being the most intelligent of the species infers a special burden to do so in my opinion.

    Yes to your question, I am a student but a returning student, so I have considered myself an informal student for over 40 years with a strong thirst to obtain knowledge. I am a frequenter of the library from the way back. I worked in a university library for 10 years, going to school was a way to get to research articles which I got addicted to. Standing on the shoulders of giants, full text please :)

    Have an excellent day!

  • Jul 4 2013: I don't know why the reply is not working but this is for Don's post: I agree and think that ensuring self reliance is a function of education, support from the community and direction to succeed.

  • Jul 4 2013: As an afterthought I would like to add that these kids need to be recognized and appreciated in a meaningful way by leaders in the community, country, an most importantly, their family to complete the rite of passage.
  • Jul 4 2013: I would like some opinions on what you think the cons are of year round school, mandatory service (not military, but can be), expanded curriculum and individualized instruction based on aptitude as well as need (such as more tutoring for weak subjects).

    Because education in America is an increasingly competitive market, I think it's time to make the best school and sell it. If you build it, they will come. If they come, more will be built, if more are built more will benefit :D

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      Jul 4 2013: Jennifer, could I ask what brings you to these issues? Are you a student?
  • Jul 4 2013: Thanks for the tip Fritzie, let me go check it out :D

  • Jul 4 2013: Thanks for all of your comments! I think that each child is a special individual (and needs to think that). Schools should do more aptitude testing and counseling each student on their results. This could benefit the teachers and the students in formulating direction and future goals. I think students need to have early (and constant) exposure to all subjects including non-academic pursuits such as drama, music, art, technology. When they start high school have individual counseling on what they like, careers related to the interests they have, and then specialized school cur,curriculum for each. I think mandatory service should play into this. I am also for year round schooling with many more opportunities to engage in group activities (like sports, camps for extracurricular or academic, and learning by visiting interesting or educational sites as well as biology/environmental hands on learning classrooms outside!). It's Adam Smith economics! specialization works because each is special with their individual ability and propensity. We should capitalize on our greatest resource: our children. To do this we need to invest in them and give them the structure and well rounded experience of healthy, connected learning that promotes diverse interaction and experiences. This is how I wish my school was, not just a grist-mill churning out dis-interested, unattached and adrift teens, We have an innate ability and desire to learn, we have a psychological need to connect and contribute. Knowing that should prompt educational reforms that make sense in our post-agricultural society. I LOVE America (and the whole Earth) and think it's worth doing more, becoming more, and achieving more.

    Happy 4th to all U.S.A. citizens and those who share the ideals of freedom
    -Jen (who wanted to serve with pride and did U.S.N. '88)
  • Jul 4 2013: I agree that character training out of civic duty is a worthy activity--to share your talents and skills in the interest of public service. Seems to me we should learn desire to service. Desire and love rises to a higher level than duty. Humankind deserves better than just conscription for service.

    Public service in some form that increases potential for good relationships, even love for our fellows. The US Peace Corps is a worthy concept. Volunteerism in the interest of service for the betterment of all is a high and noble act of will. What's left if there is no sensitivity to others is selfishness and self centeredness. Would you agree?

    Persons, families, communities, states and provinces and whole nations benefit from service and when love is a predominant feature in relationships, the whole planet will progress to peace.

    I agree with the direction of your rationale, Jennifer. Personal character training that results in people forgiving wrongs, helping others to love, helping cultures to evolve to higher ideals cannot be dismissed as superficial, but can be seen by willing servants as deeply satisfying.
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    Jul 4 2013: .

    "Civic duty" is originally our instincts
    (ancestors' successful experiences formed 10,000 years ago)
    of symbiosis.
    It is distorted by today's education.

    Let’s recover it.
  • Jul 4 2013: I cannot but help think that there are responsibilities as well as rights. Other countries still believe this See the talk for July 3,2013, Korea still requires service. Okay there are C.O.'s of course but this allows for that and why shouldn't they do something if there belief's do not allow goofing off in the Army? This way we know that they are really C.O.'s No shooting guns or blowing things up for them.
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    Jul 3 2013: That is a terrific idea, one of the best I have heard.
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      Jul 6 2013: Similar to the program Pres. Clinton put in place, AmeriCorp.

      The program first became operational in 1994 and has expanded over time,[6] with over 80,000 members participating annually as of 2012.[8]

      The following pledge is taken by AmeriCorps members, who promise to uphold the duties of their position, and reads as follows:
      I will get things done for America - to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.
      I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities.
      Faced with apathy, I will take action.
      Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground.
      Faced with adversity, I will persevere.
      I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond.
      I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.
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        Jul 6 2013: Surprising to hear that came from Clinton, was Monica part of that program?

        But I do like the idea to to ground people. Of course if the government doesn't abuse it
        to plant socialist propaganda in their head. Just that there does have to be an exchange for the framework we operate within. Such as the soldiers give so much for.
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    Jul 3 2013: Self-reliance is the rite of passage.

    The first step of being charitable, is not needing charity.
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    Jul 3 2013: You may be interested in this related conversation which opened a couple of days ago and is running simultaneously: