How do teens learn about politics?
By Ria Malatesta, Molly Cuddy and Matt Chirico
Civic knowledge is needed to act reasonably in political processes. But when such knowledge is neglected in the classroom, it becomes harder for the public to properly get informed and actively participate in their government when they get older.
When schools fail to teach students about political subjects, students have no choice but to take responsibility into their own hands and learn from other sources.
“I learned mostly from my parents and the news, but school doesn’t come to mind first,” 18-year-old Jazmine Regan said.
“I’ll see most of my political news by scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. I haven’t gotten any knowledge from school,” 17-year-old Tahira Khan said.
According to scores released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2011, 36 percent of high school seniors didn’t reach the basic level of civil knowledge needed in the subject. That is nearly two-fifths of 18-year-olds, with the eligibility to vote, lacking the most basic knowledge in political subjects.
“I learned about politics in school only briefly,” Regan said.
“I didn’t really learn about politics until it came to voting for the election,” Khan added.
Ignoring these topics is difficult to justify when politics plays an especially essential role in shaping today’s future. According to the United States Election Project, an information source for the United States electoral system, 139 million Americans voted in the 2017 presidential election, surpassing 132 million American voters in the 2008 presidential election.
This goes to show that if Americans are becoming more involved in the political sphere over time, they should have the basic knowledge and reason needed to continue being active in politics and shaping the future of American democracy.
“Teens should learn more about politics,” Khan said. “We need to know about the world we live in, what’s happening, and who’s going to be affected by the events.”