Monday, December 20, 2004

War takes its toll on civic virtue, youth express little commitment to democratic values in Israel

Haaretz - Israel News - Young, restless and not very democratic:
"The Jews and the Arabs are united in not seeing freedom of speech and true debate as basic values. Apparently the lack of a written and detailed constitution, which includes the recognition of civil, political and social rights, makes it difficult to instill democratic values. And with all this, it appears that until now, little has been done to instill the values of democracy in young people.
"In the schools, civics is a subject of secondary importance, that in many cases is taught by teachers who lack sufficient training. Most schools do not invest the appropriate resources in breathing life into a subject that could be fascinating if taught through open debates, mock trials, the screening of films that present dilemmas of democratic values, visits to the Independence Museum in Tel Aviv and to the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, and the like. If the matriculation exam in civics is indeed eliminated, it will be a death blow to the subject."

The concern about the lack of a written Bill of Rights is interesting, but we have one and yet the second paragraph quoted above sounds very like something that could be said of our own educational system. I'd wager a similar survey in the Ukraine, or even Iran, would show a profound commitment to democratic values among young people. I'm not so sure what the results would be here.


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