Why Can't Our Kids Learn How Politics Really Work?

@devylan (695)
United States
October 28, 2008 10:00am CST
Okay, so I responded to another discussion on here about Palin's intentions in regard to her explanation of the role of the Vice President as said to a third grader. This discussion is not about that, and if anyone on here discusses that, even if using the scenario only as an example, I will simply ignore your response. What I want to know is this. Why shouldn't our youngsters learn the truth about politics? Why shouldn't they learn the process behind law making or breaking in Congress? It seems to me that maybe it would teach them the importance of voting. Why is that a bad thing? I feel like we underestimate our children all the time. I talk to my son, who will be two in December, like he is a little person (he is), and I expect him to understand me when I explain to him why he should or shouldn't do something. And he does understand me because he usually does or doesn't do that something again. I just would like to know everyone's opinion on this. Please enlighten me. Thank you.
1 person likes this
14 responses
@ZephyrSun (7387)
• United States
28 Oct 08
LOL your discussion actually reminds me of that commercial that was on when I was a kid, "I'm just a bill" Actually with the way the education system is set up our children do not learn a lot of concepts of government until the final years of schooling. In my opinion the NCLB created a lot of these problems of children not learing these important items. The school focus most on reading, math, and science.
1 person likes this
@xfahctor (14111)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
28 Oct 08
I would even go as far as to say that some of this is no accident. Kids who don't learn this stuff grow up to be uninformed voters and this benifits politicians. this means a generation that will happily and ignorantly accept what ever constitutional violations and corruption with out questioning it or knowing their rights or the role of government.
1 person likes this
@newtondak (3950)
• United States
28 Oct 08
There was actually a program that aired last month that included all of those "I'm just a bill" commercials that taught kids how our government worked. Centuries ago when I was in school, our teachers discussed the election process with us and we held our own vote. The school and teachers did not, however, use this process to support any one candidate.
1 person likes this
@ZephyrSun (7387)
• United States
28 Oct 08
newton, My children have to learn where the candidates stand on the issues they are also tested on them and well my 5th grader had to write a report on why he wanted to vote for the candidate he picked. It was really amazing. He did make an informed decision and the report was very good. I'm not sure if they are having a mock election or not.
1 person likes this
@xParanoiax (7005)
• United States
29 Oct 08
While I don't have my own children, on the occasions that I do entertain the notion of adopting a few little ones I sometimes imagine how I'd go about teaching them things and what I should be teaching them. I grew up in a household that prizes knowledge. Both my parents despise politics, but they'd pay a little bit of attention, when I was younger -- before I approached my preteens I began watching the elections with my parents. And now, as I'm quickly approaching adulthood, I'm a massive politics and news junkie -- even though it's to my parents' chagrin. I think exposure to how the country you live in works, the earlier the better...is best. You absorb the most knowledge when you're that young. I think we SHOULD be telling them the bare basics to start -- the constitution for example. We can simplify it, if needs be as far explainations go and worry about going further in depth later. We can actively choose not to shield them from politics when we do choose to pay attention to it -- like the elections that will happen through your kid's childhood. It doesn't matter how much they understand it at first. If you tell them about it, it will remain in their subconcious for them to tap into as they get older -- you give them the tools to learn more on their own later. I think it's REALLY important, because I think that the numbers of people my own age who don't know that much about the constitution, heck...the numbers of their parents that don't...are a direct example of what happens when we don't teach our kids abut this stuff. I think it breeds ignorance. I mean, even if you don't feel that it's that relevant, you don't know WHAT will be relevant at all in your child's future, especially after you're gone! So it's best to give them everything and anything you can. That's just my take thoug ^_^ heaven forbid I tell anyone else how to raise their children.
1 person likes this
@devylan (695)
• United States
31 Oct 08
Well, Paranoia, you summed up my sentiments quite precisely. Thank you for such an eloquent response. I don't know how old you are, but you don't seem to be much younger than me, if you're younger at all. I'll be twenty-seven 28 days later. Lol.
• United States
31 Oct 08
I'll only be able to call myself an adult after 2009, heh =) so I'm a decent bit younger -- neat to know we're close in the age demographic though!
@xfahctor (14111)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
28 Oct 08
I think the constitution should be taught in gradde school, then taught again in greater depth in the later years of highschool. It used to be that history class and government classes were about learning this process. Somewhere along the way it became more wisshy washy and watered down. We are raising a generation of apathetic and uninformed little robots who recite what they hear on the MTV music awards now instead of what they learned in school about government and the election process. I'm pretty fortuneate. I raised my kids to be individual thinkers and with a hunger to learn and a passion for this country. They made their own efforts to learn the process, learn about how government is suposed to work. they have learned what their rights are. They listen to what candidates say and make up their own minds based on what they learned insread of relying on talking points from a party.
1 person likes this
@ZephyrSun (7387)
• United States
28 Oct 08
This is all happening because of our darn NCLB UGH I don't know or care who came up with this one but it has hindered our education system. There's no time for the Constitution because we have to pass the test or lose funding.
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@devylan (695)
• United States
28 Oct 08
Oh yes, Zephyr, well, standardized tests are a whole other issue that I definitely have problems with. Thanks for that point. X, I knew I could count on you. I completely agree. I'm sick of it, and the horrible part about it, as well, is that this apathy is seeping into the parents' mindsets. Good for you for educating your kids. I hope I do just as good a job with my son.
@cupkitties (6702)
• United States
29 Oct 08
I learned about constitution and all that kind of government stuff in school. My daughter who is 9 has learned all that at the beginning of her school year so I'm confused at people saying they should teach it. Guess it depends on where you live.
1 person likes this
@devylan (695)
• United States
30 Oct 08
That is good to know.
@minerc (1373)
• United States
29 Oct 08
Remeber the cartoons on Saturday mornings, they use to inject stuff about the bill of right, and the constitution etc. You dont see them any more though. I do believe we as parents need to teach our children the truth about politics, the process behind law making and breaking in Congress and so much more. The schools dont teach them that, some teachers are even teaching kids there own beliefs. It is up to us as parents to teach and guide our children at 2 he will learn alot and if it continues throughout his years then maybe one day he will be able to teach others. In my opinion we are dumbing down our children because we expect the schools to teach them instead of us. So please teach your children it is important they will be the generations taking care of us when we no longer can. God Bless! Knowledge is Power!
@devylan (695)
• United States
30 Oct 08
I do remember those cartoons. Thank you, I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, though, some parents either don't have the time or the interest in teaching their kids about anything, and I think these kids should have the opportunity to learn about it, as well. That's all I'm saying. Of course the schools shouldn't be solely responsible for our children's education. I just know that the reality of the situation is that many parents in this country do not share the responsibility, and I don't think their kids should be punished for their actions, or lack there of.
@murtagh92 (182)
• United States
28 Oct 08
i totally agree with u! it has to start when they are kids, because once they become adults, and they can vote, then they're gonna need to have some background experience on choosing what they feel is the right path. many surveys show that the voter turnout for this election will be off the charts, yet many of teh people voting this time only decided to come because the candidates are different (with an african american and a woman); they don't even know what the candidates support or against. so ya, basically, they gotta know what they're doing and thats its not just because u think one candidate is "cooler" than the other
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@devylan (695)
• United States
31 Oct 08
Thank you.
• United States
28 Oct 08
Our school system is a mess. They do not teach the constitution and bill of rights like they used to. They do not talk about politics or the election process like they should. But ultimately it comes down to mom and dad. More parents need to get their kids involved in politics. Learning about it and how it works. My son is 5 and he can tell you a lot about this election and how it works. Why? Well you really can't help in our house. Politics is always being talked about. But also we take the time to talk to him and explain things to him. I know he is not old enough to really understand all of it. But as he gets older he will. When he is a little older I plan on taking him to campaign speeches and volunteer for campaigns both federal and local. I am sooo looking forward to when my children are old enough to take them on a family vacation to Washington DC. Let him sit in on congress and personally see how it works, tour the white house, show him the Constitution and the Bill of Rights first hand. My children may not ever go into politics but they will know about it and how it works so that when they are adults they can make educated decisions before they vote.
1 person likes this
@devylan (695)
• United States
28 Oct 08
Your efforts to keep your son informed are very commendable, and I completely agree with you in that it ultimately does come down to the efforts of the parents. However, some children don't have parents who are as willing as you are, or who are even that interested. I just think these kids deserve just as much of a chance to learn about it as your son or my son does. Just as I told Taskr before, certainly some kids just won't get it or just won't care, but I still think they should at least be given the opportunity to learn about it.
@Taskr36 (13928)
• United States
28 Oct 08
I don't think there's anything wrong with teaching them such things. These things however must be taught at a level that they can understand. Just as an example. You can tell third graders about the three branches of government, that's easy to understand. You can tell them that laws are written and voted on, judged constitutional or not, and approved or vetoed by the president. It's a bit more complicated though, and not all children will understand if you just say it once and move on. When you start explaining committees, subcommittees, filibusters, pork spending, line item vetoes, and several other more complicated issues in the creation of a law, it suddenly turns from being a few lessons of study, into an entire semester based on understanding legislation. When I was in third grade we were learning multiplication, reading chapter books, and many kids were bored with that. From what I've seen education is well behind where it was when I was growing up so I find it highly unlikely that you could keep kids interested in such a lesson, much less have them fully comprehend the process. You can try to teach these things at any age level, but it is largely a wasted effort if the children aren't advanced enough to understand. For me politics wasn't covered in a detailed manner until 5th grade when Bush was running against Dukakis. While I was very interested at that age, for most kids the concepts of republicans and democrats were lost on them. I do remember the other kids in my class liked Dan Quayle. Some thought Dukakis looked like Mr. Rogers, and many said that Lloyd Bentsen was way too old. The idea as to what each candidate stood for made no dent in their perceptions based on age and appearance.
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@devylan (695)
• United States
28 Oct 08
I understand what you're saying, Taskr. Really I do. I agree that it can't necessarily be taught in detail "once and [then] move on." It is complicated, and I think maybe the schools should take your suggestion and turn it into a subject unto itself, to be discussed over the span of a semester. I think children these days are too easily dismissed as unable to understand certain things. Many children struggle with the concept of multiplication, and it lasts into their adult lives, but I don't think the schools are going to stop teaching the subject or even dumb it down. There is no way to do so anyway. I think Xfahctor put it more clearly when he said that elementary children should be taught about the Constitution on simplistic terms of course, and then, in middle/junior high school and highschool, the process should be more detailed. There could even be a separate class on it. Okay, so there is. You got me. It's called Civics, right? Well, my Civics class was a joke. The teacher was drunk every day; I kid you not. Why didn't we complain to the principal? Because we were teenagers and either didn't care or thought it was entertaining. She gave us open book tests that were simply the chapter/section reviews ver batim that we did in class together. Do I remember any of this? Not really. Most of my civics education has come from working for my state's legislature, and I've only been doing that for a year and a half now. My real question, I guess then, is why can't we start with simple, basic information in grade school, and then, the older the children get, the more complicated the lessons. Zephyr mentioned that her daughter, who is in the fifth grade, had to write a report explaining which candidate she would vote for and why, the most important part of the report here being the 'why'. Anyway, you're right, Taskr. Some things, maybe even all of it, will sometimes fall on deaf ears, just as some children will never be interested in reading the assigned books or writing book reports, just as some kids will never be excited about the science fair. Again, though, these subjects and concepts will continue to be taught. So, why not just add another area of interest to the curriculum? My point is, you can say that any subject is a wasted effort if the child is not advanced enough to understand it, or just doesn't care enough about it, but that shouldn't stop us from wanting to at least try to show the child why it is important.
@cher913 (25895)
• Canada
29 Oct 08
it seems to me that you are trying to make your child grow up before he really needs to. he is only 2 for pete's sake! my kids here dont really learn about politics til they are in the higher grades in public school and when they can process the information.
@devylan (695)
• United States
30 Oct 08
I don't expect him to do or understand anything other than what he is capable of doing or understanding. I allow him to be a very typical baby boy. I have not tried to push him to understand anything that would be over his head, including politics.
@manixxx (116)
• Japan
29 Oct 08
students have a hard time in learning politics simply because, it is so boring. me too, i can say that politics/economics/law and orders/constitutional laws/political science, are the most boring subjects in high school and college. i would understand why most students don't like these subjects because children and teenagers nowadays are more inclined into sports, fashion, music, arts, anything that they like and having fun doing it. and also, it affects the kind of person he/she is. if someone is into politics/economics, well, that person might be a very serious one, or a very geeky one, and if a child is like that, he/she might put jokes in his/her class, and trust me, any child or teenager would not prefer to be like that, especially in his/her peak of being a child or teenager.
@devylan (695)
• United States
30 Oct 08
Let me just speak from the perspective of a geek who was made fun of for being different from the time I was in second grade. I was interested in all aspects of learning, including art, sports, and even science and literature. Because I was the new kid in town, I was made fun of for being different, for being smart, for any number of reasons, because kids are cruel, and this happens, regardless of what is taught, or what a child is interested in. Of course not every child is going to be interested, but not every child is interested in the other subjects you listed. That doesn't mean the schools shouldn't offer these interests.
@ghazal2k5 (983)
• India
29 Oct 08
Well i cant really answer that because i was never interested in politics since childhood. I had politics as my subject but i never cleared those exams. Its so boring and it just don't go into my mind.
@devylan (695)
• United States
30 Oct 08
I certainly recognize the fact that not everyone will show the same level of interest that I do, but at least you were given the opportunity to learn something about it, whether you held on to the knowledge or not.
• Canada
29 Oct 08
Why do we want our kids involved in politics anyway? Let them enjoy growing up. Politics are corrupt! i don't want my kids to disturb their learning years by the evil of politics
@devylan (695)
• United States
30 Oct 08
Unfortunately, "the evil of politics" already does "disturb their learning years." The government is constantly affecting our country's educational system. The most recent example of this that I can think of is "No Child Left Behind," and it needs work still. I never said they should be "involved" in politics, as this implies that they should help change things--although, when they get older, like in their teenage years, and actually show some interest, I would definitely encourage some involvement, at least at the community level--just that they should be taught about the process and about the importance of their vote, when they do become of legal age to practice that very important right.
• United States
28 Oct 08
First of all, kids at the age of two wouldn't understand politics and other things. Even if they are 15 years old its better to wait until 18 or over. I support this because some kids think they should vote to just anyone they like. They don't even know which candidate is supporting what, and how that candidate will improve the country. And trust me some kids are naughty and like to play around with you. So they might not do or understand what you say. Or maybe its just that they are not interested. Hope this helps.
@devylan (695)
• United States
28 Oct 08
First of all, I didn't say that I'm teaching my two year old anything about politics. Secondly, I think you misunderstood my point. The reason I think kids should be taught about politics is so that they will know before they are eighteen that they should not just vote for "anyone they like."
@elmiko (6640)
• United States
28 Oct 08
I would just let kids be kids. They don't need to know about politics too soon in my honest opinion.
@devylan (695)
• United States
28 Oct 08
In your honest opinion, then, should they need to know anything about anything so that they can just be kids? I am not saying kids shouldn't be allowed to be kids. What I am saying is that we should not presume that they just wouldn't understand because they are just kids.