The Importance of Engaging in Classroom Discussion of Politics

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Since the 2016 presidential election, which saw a polarizing Donald Trump take office, America has become extremely divided with little compromise between conservative and liberal ideals. This has left many citizens, regardless of their platforms, feeling dissatisfied with America’s political climate, as dissension has caused animosity amongst party lines. The rigid partition between Democrats and Republicans, with each feeling that their viewpoint is superior to that of the other, has prevented growth in society that can bring about effective social and economic change. Ultimately, one of the most impactful tools to mitigate the divide amongst political parties is to engage in classroom discussions about the matter.

Discussing politics in high school classrooms is often thought of as taboo, as students who feel differently from the majority may become uncomfortable. This fear is valid especially when a teacher imposes his/her beliefs on his/her students in a way that drowns the views of the conflicting side. However, if done in the right manner and mediated by an unbiased party, discussing politics in school can help students formulate their opinion without their information being influenced by someone else’s views. It also keeps students up to date on important events that may be shaping their lives. Junior CJ Sollito stated, “I think it is important to talk about politics when we are young, so we can have a greater awareness as to what is going on in the world and can formulate our political beliefs on our own terms.”

Often, adolescents grow up siding with the party that their parents or guardians support since a child’s homelife is one of the most common environments where he/she is exposed to the news. However, parents typically fail to present information from the opposing party in an equally appealing light as the one they agree with, which prevents their child from making an informed, fair decision on which party they wish to support. Having students, all exposed to different political beliefs growing up, discuss political events allows students to learn about both liberal and conservative viewpoints, while eliminating bias. It can also serve as an avenue for students who have a more formulated opinion of their political standpoint to express their feelings on the matter. While being exposed to other people’s opinions would not necessarily sway one into changing his, it can allow students to understand why the other party believes what they do and become more receptive to their principles. Junior Casey Shea stated, “Politics have become very chaotic recently with both sides constantly fighting since neither will listen to what the other has to say.” Sharing different political opinions can assuage the hostility each side has for the other by allowing comprises on different policies to be enacted.

Meanwhile, many students grow up without learning much about politics from home. Discussing these events in school may be the first time these students have learned about America’s government from a political standpoint. This could potentially influence a student into voting in an election when he/she turns 18. Many adults feel discouraged to vote in elections when they are first eligible since they may not be knowledgeable as to which party they support or the beliefs of each candidate running. According to a Vox article (vox.com) entitled “Poll: Only 28 Percent of Young Voters Say They Will Certainly Vote in the 2018 Midterms,” despite being the demographic that would be most affected long-term by the results of the upcoming midterm election, very few young people show initiative to vote. Educating students on this matter would increase their likelihood of voting in the election.

By not engaging in political discussion in humanities classes, it would ultimately be doing a disservice to students. As evident by the current political situation of this country, compromise between Democrats and Republicans is necessary to promote societal growth and appease tensions amongst the two parties. Ignoring political events in class only further cements each side in opposition within the future generation of America. Cooperation of the youth is America’s biggest hope to reaching a state of peace and understanding amongst rivaling political parties.

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