USD in the News

TitleWe Must Teach Civil Civic Discourse to Make San Diego Work
News OrganizationTimes of San Diego

Times of San Diego -- Carl Luna is a professor of political science at San Diego Mesa College and the director of the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement at the University of San Diego.

Most schools no longer teach cursive handwriting. Most schools also spend little time on teaching block printing or even keyboarding skills. Indeed, the whole curriculum of language arts—the means, media and skills of effective interpersonal communication—have increasingly been marginalized in an age of mandatory testing and voluntary texting. Our students leave school able to digitally communicate with thumb and index finger on a phone or tablet but not in face-to-face dialogue with their fellow corporeal citizens.

In Solana Beach, a debate over allowing more parties with alcohol at a community center turned rancorous, with invectives hurled, friendships ended and a community divided. In Coronado, a public forum on open-campus policies for students degenerated into parents verbally attacking the character of each other’s children. In San Diego the mayoral campaign became reduced to the labeling of opposing candidates as untrustworthy tools of nefarious special interests. Even after policy and electoral choices are made, the communities involved remained divided, suspicious and angry.

So what do these two separate issues—changing education and uncivil civil engagement—have in common? The answer is that the later—incivility in public discourse around San Diego—is closely tied to the former—the simple fact that we don’t teach the skills of successful civic engagement in our community as well as we should. The result: as the skill of civil engagement deteriorates, so too does civility in our public lives and, so too, do our sense of community and our ability to resolve our common problems. (Full Story)


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