1. Why should a student study America's heritage?
The Founding Fathers understood that our constitutional system and the liberty it protects could endure only if Americans retained an understanding of our founding principles. As this survey demonstrates, most Americans still agree that citizens, and particularly the leaders of our communities and nation, ought to understand America’s institutions, texts, core history, and basic market principles.
2. Shouldn't civic education be the concern of primary and secondary schools and not institutions of higher learning?
Elementary schools, high schools, and colleges all have roles to play in teaching about America's history and institutions. Because colleges are educating America's future leaders, they have a duty to preserve and deepen the knowledge of America's heritage that students bring from high school—according to Our Fading Heritage, this is an idea that has the support of a supermajority of Americans.
3. Won't taking college courses on America's history and institutions subtract from a student's ability to study things that will help him make a living in the real world?
Life is not only about earning money. It also consists of parenting a family, relationships with friends and neighbors, and participating in public life. Students take 40 or more courses while earning an undergraduate degree. Surely, there is room in the curriculum for courses that enrich a student's knowledge in those areas that tend to enrich civic engagement.
4. Many colleges focus on teaching students how to think critically. Why should these schools be concerned if students fail to demonstrate rudimentary knowledge about America's heritage?
To think critically about a subject, one must first know the facts of a subject. A college student who does not know the basics about America's history and institutions cannot think critically about the questions that will determine America's future.
5. If a person can learn about America’s heritage from sources other than college, why should we not do so and leave colleges alone?
By demonstrating that activities other than attending college can add more to a person’s civic literacy than college currently does, Our Fading Heritage may appear to suggest that individuals who are interested in increasing their civic knowledge should avoid college and focus on other activities. On the contrary, a college education has the (so far unrealized) potential to be a tremendous and efficient source of civic knowledge, and can do so, through modest reforms, without detracting from the other positive contributions that colleges currently make to students’ lives. A college education should be, among other things, the solid foundation on which a student’s civic understanding—and thus responsible civic engagement—is built; the other activities mentioned in Our Fading Heritage could then be used to build upon that foundation for a lifetime.