Important, Contested, Confusing, Defining, and Messy

Submitted By:
Elizabeth Morley, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Am I Patriotic? Learning and Teaching the Complexities of Patriotism Here and Now by Mark T. Kissling (Ed.)
Bank Street Occasional Paper Series , #40, September 1, 2018

The Bank Street Occasional Paper Series #40 tackles the complexity of teaching and learning patriotism. It moves boldly, and with timely urgency, into necessary questions for schools, families, students, and teachers who look to define and shape respectful K to 12 curriculum around what it means to be patriotic. With five narrative-research papers that explore how we think about, live, model, and teach it, this collection looks at patriotism in critically diverse ways, including: patriotism in different countries, in different regions of the United States, in historical contexts, and in the immediate here and now. There is strength in the inclusion of four personal essays by prominent educational scholars who have widely divergent views about the benefits and costs of various forms of expressing patriotism. In fact, this entire journal issue is provoking – it tells, in remarkably human and memorable terms, how important, contested, confusing, defining, and messy it can be to weave patriotism responsibly into the classroom experience. This is a challenging but accessible read, and taken together or separately, these are pieces that could form the basis for deeply meaningful professional debate, student reflection, parent education, or policy development. The title question, “Am I Patriotic?” rejects easy answers – because we owe our students more than an unexamined answer.

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