Politics in the Classroom

Sean Anderson, Business Manager

Politics have always been a rough subject to talk about and it is often frowned upon when brought up in conversation. The main discomfort comes from opposing viewpoints and upsetting the status quo. 

In school, besides the required government course, students are often left uneducated and ill-informed about political discussions and this leads to misinformation and a wrongful understanding of current events. Political discussion and education needs to become less taboo and more addressed in school.

The push back comes from concerned educators and parents. Though well-intentioned, it  leaves students oblivious is much worse than allowing them to be immersed in current events. With politics, however, there is a healthy amount that can be discussed, and an amount that should be withheld. The line should be drawn between discussion and argument. 

It’s normal for students to have an opinion and express that in the classroom, but once those opinions turn into debate, that’s where the line is drawn in the classroom. 

One recent topic that I think is on everyone’s mind — students, parents, and educators alike — is the surprising attack on the Capitol that happened on Jan. 6. This event was somewhat unprecedented for the current time period. The last time the Capitol was attacked was in 1814 by the British. Instead of suppressing students’ opinions on it and leaving the political discussion for home, where often the views can be one-sided, they should be brought up in a classroom setting for discussion and evaluation. 

Manhattan High School, like other high schools, is doing a good job of introducing political discussion back into the curriculum and school setting. In most of my classes last week, we often started class off with an open discussion or journal entry asking our opinion, thoughts, feelings and initial response to the storming of the Capitol. This was an excellent way to educate students who haven’t heard of the event or tune in to the news regularly. Also, this form of self-reflection made it possible to bring up a controversial political topic in the classroom without causing a disruption to the regular activities of class. 

Another way high schools are introducing politics into the school is through clubs. For example, at MHS we have two political clubs, the Young Democrats and the Young Republicans. Both groups are welcoming to all students no matter their political siding. Both groups regularly hold meetings over zoom and in person. The main goal of the meetings is not to debate political topics or to prove one ideology is superior, but instead to have a well -informed and controlled discussion on certain political issues. This serves to educate and inform interested students while still allowing them the ability to decide for themselves what they believe in. Political clubs like the Young Republicans and Democrats are a way for schools to slowly transition politics into the classroom and in doing so, schools are adding political education and discussion back into the curriculum.

While political discussion is often frowned upon and in some instances is considered rude, it has its place in an educational environment and should become a bigger part of schools curriculum to better educate students on political events and let them formulate their own opinions.