Re: “Our View: Civics education is vital for democracy” (March 3, Page A10):

Would it make a difference in life if educational programs could provide students with the opportunity to sign up for courses that dealt with timeless themes or questions, the kind of issues they are certain to face in life? There might be some debate about what such themes or questions should be, but I offer a few examples: authority/freedom; tradition/revolt; conformity/deviation; loyalty/dissent; tolerance/prejudice; cultural absolutism/cultural relativity; conflict/consensus; cooperation/competition; equality/inequality; war/peace; science/faith; rational/irrational; crime/punishment; individualism/collectivism; materialism/spiritualism, realism/idealism; power/powerlessness; authoritarian personalities/democratic personalities;. values as manmade/values as transcendental, etc.

Scholars in the various disciplines would be called upon to offer their expertise on the various themes or questions. Ideally, the students would walk away with the best information available on themes or questions they will encounter in life.

If that could not be done, I would suggest that no one should graduate without a conscious effort made to remind students of how his or her major was connected to the wider world, e.g., that the principles of physics, chemistry and biology are utilized in warfare; that the study of the irrational in psychology is connected to the supply and demand curves in economics, or that the advertising industry has a vested interest in making people unhappy with who they are and what they have, etc.

Education is something more than making students marketable. It should serve to remind us of the interrelatedness of things.

Charles Scontras
Cape Elizabeth

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