In Love, Care, and Patriotism, family and marriage therapist Linda Mkrtchyan offers a teachers’ guide centered on the core values of family, friends, and nation. Providing lists of topics for discussion or writing exercises, she aims to help teachers show students ways to “express themselves that fit within the educational norm.”
Mkrtchyan’s book offers a one-paragraph introduction. The rest of the book is organized by grade level (from 1st to 12th) and consists of topics for discussion and essay writing, each followed by lists of possible talking/writing points. For example, for fifth graders, the topic “Being a Hero Is When I Am…” is followed by these suggestions: “acting friendly, riding a bike, ice-skating, acing your schoolwork…being on time to school,” and more. For higher grade levels, the topic of “When I am Having Fun and It Is Healthy…” is followed by: “playing sports, camping, playing board games, watching games, dancing, making friends, petting animals” and more.
While the topics could be good jumping off points for open-ended thought (what makes a hero?; what makes for healthy vs. unhealthy fun?), the suggested answers are highly simplistic and fail to prompt critical thinking. Meanwhile, the book omits topics particularly important for young adults when it comes to citizenship: the importance of service, bringing about political change, knowledge of how the American government works, and voter responsibility.
Additionally, selected discussion topics are not based on established intellectual, psychological, and moral stages of development commonly understood by trained educators and often don’t align with grade level. (Do six year olds understand that a birthday is time for “choosing to have a better lifestyle” or that “education is a prestige”?) The book would also benefit from sample essays and an extended introduction by Mrktchyan explaining her educational philosophy.
Mrktchayan’s book is clearly well intended, but its over-simplification of the suggested topics and grade-level-inappropriate prompts will limit its usefulness in most classrooms.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.