UW–Madison’s Stern argues for reclaiming ‘patriotic education’ in The Hill op-ed

UW–Madison’s Walter Stern is the author of an opinion piece that was published in The Hill, headlined “A truly ‘patriotic education’ requires critical analysis of U.S. history.”

Walter Stern

Stern is an assistant professor and historian with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. He is also the author of “Race and Education in New Orleans: Creating the Segregated City, 1764–1960.”

In his piece, Stern argues that Americans should “reclaim patriotic education” from those on the right who attack the teaching of “divisive concepts,” such as the country’s history of racism.

Stern writes: “The need to cultivate teachers and students who are brave — and patriotic — enough to think critically about the nation’s past could not be more urgent. Without independent thinkers who care enough about the nation’s well-being to wrestle with, rather than retreat from, its complex history, the country is ill-prepared to tackle current and future challenges. A society, after all, can’t solve problems whose existence it refuses to acknowledge.”

“Unfortunately, Republicans who oppose the teaching of ‘divisive concepts’ have little interest in illuminating minds,” Stern later adds. “They want,” he says, ” ‘to force’ schools to provide uncritical exaltations of the nation’s past.”

Stern concludes that this approach is “neither honest nor patriotic.” Instead, he writes: “It is authoritarian, and it would prepare students to follow rather than lead, to obey rather than think for themselves, and to ignore all that might make America great.”

To read more on this critical issue, check out Stern’s full piece at thehill.com.

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