Maybe it isn’t reasonable to expect our young people to hold positive civic attitudes and be actively engaged. Citizens (both young and old alike) may rightly shun voting when most elections have already been determined by the way district lines were drawn. They may rightly ignore the news when the quality of journalism, especially on television, is poor. And they may rightly disengage from high schools that are large, anonymous, and alienating. Civic education that teaches people to admire a flawed system is mere propaganda.
Indeed. Casting my mind back to high school: the administration's attempts to instill "school spirit" (read: mindless obedience) just made me all the more cynical. It was only after I left school behind -- and started blogging -- that I developed any sense of civic identity. Empowerment beats indoctrination any day. Perhaps the principal would've had better luck with a "Yes, the system sucks; here's what you can do to change it" approach. But "stand up straight and sing the school song"? Barf.