Teaching the Fourth “R”

The following is a guest post from Audrey Fischer of the Library’s Public Affairs Office.

While others critique the nation’s schools’ effectiveness in teaching the three Rs—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic—actor and activist Richard

Law Day was celebrated at the Library of Congress on May 1 with an address by Richard Dreyfuss in the Coolidge Auditorium. / Abby Brack Lewis

Dreyfuss is on a crusade to teach the fourth R—republican democracy. His cause célèbre is the restoration of civics education, to ensure that young people understand and perpetuate our unique form of government.

“This country is a miracle and the whole world knows it, except Americans, because we don’t teach it,” said Dreyfuss, during his May 1 talk at the Library of Congress, hosted by the Law Library, to commemorate Law Day, a national day to celebrate the rule of law and its contributions to the freedoms that Americans enjoy.

The webcast can now be viewed at here.

Law Day was a fitting occasion for Dreyfuss to spread his gospel of good government and good citizenship. He has been traveling the nation for the past seven years advocating the teaching of civics and the restoration of civil debate in America. In 2010, he founded The Dreyfuss Initiative, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate the next generation about America’s system of government and how to participate in it.

Dreyfuss announced that the organization has its eye on the George Washington family property in West Virginia, on which it would like to build “the first institute for the study of Enlightenment values.” Those values, explained Dreyfuss, had a major impact on the Founding Fathers, who fought against the tyranny of a monarchy and created a republican democracy.

Says Dreyfuss, “We must teach our kids how to run our country with common sense and realism, before it’s time for them to run the country. If we don’t, someone else will run this nation and the experiment of government by, for, and of the people will have failed.”

The Library of Congress is doing its part in assisting educators in teaching American history using primary sources that are available on the Library’s website. Library of Congress resources that educators can use for civics education can be found here.


  1. Thomas Arrasmith
    May 22, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Couldn’t agree more with Mr. D. This a very important issue right now, and the need for better understanding how our government works is demonstrated daily both on Main Street and in Congress. Good on ya Me D.

  2. Darshelle Jones
    May 22, 2012 at 11:53 am

    The fifth R that needs to be taught is “Respond” The power of a response is imperative for future development.

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