Today’s 3rd grade in-class writing assignment: why I love America. Of course one must be sure to follow the format. I love America. The reason I love America is because… Add three examples; close with repetition. My daughter discovers that the answer to the question here is that she loves America because of "freedom." Huh? That’s some pretty heavy irony, don’t you think? You must write that you love America, you must write that you love America because of the freedom you experience, and you must follow this specific format in writing your response. I mean if it was a movie you’d be rolling your eyes that this was laying it all on pretty think, right?
What’s next week’s assignment? Why I am glad daddy stopped beating mommy?
Now some folks may be inclined to think this is just typical liberal whining. Whatever. My position is that I think it’s mildly delusional to express love for an abstraction. I mean the idea here isn’t to express love for the physical place of America or for the actual people who are "Americans." It isn’t about loving the State either. Instead it’s about expressing love for a concept, a complex and elusive concept at that.
But what does this have to do with 3rd grade? What do 8-9 year olds know about America? What conceptual understanding do they have of freedom to recognize whether or not they have it and what role "America" (whatever that is) might have in it? The oddest thing about this in the end is that kids don’t actually have any freedoms. They don’t actually have the right to make any decisions for themselves.