by Lois Shin ’20
After the 2016 election, politics has become a highly televised and popular subject of conversation on TV and social media as more students have become more aware of the current political scene. Due to the increasing presence of politics in the media, the number of students familiar with President Trump’s administration has increased; however, many of them only have a superficial level of knowledge about current government. Although it is important for the younger generation to include themselves in the political discussion, students should know enough basic information in order to make informed conclusions about political issues.
The sheer presence of politics in social media has caused students to view politics as more of a spectacle rather than as a serious topic of discussion. For instance, students who wear President Trump’s campaign merchandise and know he advocates to “build a wall,” but are not aware of his political positions on core issues, such as DACA or immigration visas, and students who claim they advocate for a certain social issues without full grasp of the topic. Some students voice opinions that garner the most attention or act in controversial ways that they know will cause conversations among students instead of creating their own opinions on actual policies or instead of trying to determine their own political identity.
Though exposing more students to politics can be seen as a good thing, rather than using the outwardly controversial atmosphere that surround politics as another ephemeral media trend, students should use this opportunity to bring about healthy discourse and become more knowledgeable about the political system in order to become successful citizens. Schools should encourage political discussions including a variety of opinions and views to establish the importance of being active in politics.
Students should know what they are talking about before they make political decisions instead of making superficial judgments on what is an acceptable position on issues or what will get the most reactions from the other students in school. For example, students who identify with a certain political party opposing or supporting the current administration because they are “anti-Trump” or “anti-Liberal.” However young the student may be, it is imperative that they do not conform their opinions to what is presented in the media and the views that the majority of society determines as acceptable. Students should not blindly follow the opinions of the group they support and instead should determine for themselves what their beliefs are with adequate knowledge of the context and substance of an issue.
Students should be introduced to the many components of politics and get a thorough comprehension of issues to establish themselves as an individual with their own beliefs. The importance of establishing external efficacy in the government’s decision-making should be emphasized to students through active classroom discussion, such as the social studies classes including a weekly topic of discussion related to current politics, which can allow the opportunity for students to become exposed to and follow politics. As a result, students can gain knowledge, develop a larger perspective, and continue the political discussion in the American democracy.