Approaching politics in class: Discussions should not mirror the national landscape
BY CHRIS GOMES
Modern society has become concentrated with politics in every facet imaginable, and rightfully so. Politics and current events are as important as ever before in this day and age. In our emotionally-charged environment, it’s important to address politics in a reasonable fashion, refraining from the name-calling and language often used on the national scale. Rather, instead of attacking one another on a personal level, we must adapt to respectfully discuss the issues at hand.
The national political climate has deteriorated so far as to having name-calling and personal attacks becoming mainstays of the overall argument. The deterioration can be seen recently in presidential debates, where candidates on both sides participate in insults, charged language and overall incompetency.
The very social fabric of the election has been twisted further from an already dirty cycle to become more hateful and repulsive. Attacks on personal family, such as the one seen in the first presidential debate, are currently not off the table. In the grander scheme of things, this makes little sense when voters are electing candidates for their policy measures, not for the behavior of their children.
With that being said, approaching politics in the classroom should stay away from the approaches taken on the national landscape. Instead of personal attacks, students should be able to debate one another based on facts. Outside of school, students shouldn’t be seen as “too young” to discuss politics because of their inability to vote. Regardless if teenagers can vote or not, their ability to voice their opinions should not be hampered.
With that being said, approaching politics in the classroom should stay away from the approaches taken on the national landscape.
It’s important to discuss politics in class in order to educate the younger generations on how important these public issues truly are. Creating an informative discussion is something that needs to be done in order to resolve the issues the nation currently has. If it cannot be done on the national landscape, it needs to be done at all levels, including the schooling system.
“The ‘political classroom’ is a classroom in which young people are learning to deliberate about political questions,” program director at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Ethics and Education and co-author of “The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education” Paula McAvoy said. “It really is the process of deliberation that is the major skill being taught. And then, through deliberation, students are learning about the issues. They’re learning how to form arguments, how to weigh evidence.”
Although some may say that discussing politics is a “touchy” subject, it doesn’t have to be. Ground rules of decency and understanding from both students and teachers can be established, and all possible perspectives should be considered. In short, just because politics may be considered as a sensitive topic, this should not mean that it doesn’t provide valuable knowledge and understanding for the students who partake in these modern discussions.
Learning the issues and adapting that skill into discussions can help prepare upcoming generations to resolve the many issues throughout the nation. Students should be able to express their opinions without fear of being attacked on a personal level, similar to that of the election cycle. The classroom can serve as a “safe space” for thought. However misconstrued and mocked the term may be at times, it’s important to have a “safe space” for discussion.
Learning the issues and adapting that skill into discussions can help prepare upcoming generations to resolve the many issues throughout the nation.
The classroom should not emulate the discussions of the debate stage. Rather, it needs to be framed in a manner in which the idea of debate was founded upon, the discussion of facts, not personal attacks. Unfortunately, the national landscape does not reflect on those values. But those of the classroom certainly can and should in order to create meaningful discussions that need to be held.
Teachers and instructors can instill the idea of positive political discussions in the classroom, by establishing ground rules of decency and understanding. It may get emotionally charged at times, but holding a dialogue can be instrumental in understanding everyone’s beliefs, and learning more about each other and the world.
Photo courtesy of NPR