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JLeslie's avatar

Do you think young people should be taught about politics and the political parties in K-12?

Asked by JLeslie (65522points) February 7th, 2023

Let’s make it a given they should be taught about government. How government works, how elections work, different types of government around the world, and other pertinent topics to government.

What about teaching the platforms for the major parties in your country? Do you think there is no need to teach that in school? Do you think that teaching it might leave too much chance for teachers to influence students? If you feel it should be taught, what grades do you think are best?

What were you taught about the political parties, and what are your kids learning today?

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28 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Elementary school civics, yes, but not party platforms or which party identifies with which general philosophy.

General politics is appropriate for high school. When I was in high school I not only followed the 1972 election, we got extra credit for going to our local precinct and getting the preliminary vote count for each candidate and proposition.

Zaku's avatar

Of course. It ought to be taught more and better than it has been, to help stave off some of the crazy bullshit shenanigans that have become popular in US politics. Teaching ought to include that, as well, and also how current news media is mostly owned and controlled by a few huge companies with agendas.

Critical thinking and doing real research ought to be taught too.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Of course but it has to be careful not to be bias while being taught.

KRD's avatar

I agree but not where they teach only vote this party. They need to learn what the country needs.

Entropy's avatar

VERY dangerous territory. The problem is that as you begin teaching about Party X likes rectangles and Party Y like triangles, it’s VERY easy for bias to sneak in. I mean…can you believe Party Y likes triangles? TRIANGLES!?!

I’d had to be just super duper convinced that the material was being taught in a value neutral way, and I just don’t think the human animal is wired that way. I’d rather teach the kid how to do research and then let them find their own way.

Locke's avatar

I think kids should be taught about the political process (the branches of government, how the electoral college works, etc.), but I don’t know how much they need to be taught about the parties outside of a historical context. I remember learning about the Democratic-Republicans and the Whigs and that FDR was a Democrat and Nixon was a Republican, but we weren’t taught about contemporary Republican and Democratic platforms (i.e. Democrats support X, Republicans support Y—I think that starts to get dicey).

KNOWITALL's avatar

I agree with @entropy. Like CRT it’s the bias that people are afraid of, not the facts. We are all adults and we’ve seen here how nasty it can get trying to discuss it.

If it was going to be taught, then like CRT, it sgould be in hs, not younger.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They learn political preferences at home.

Dutchess_III's avatar

“The term “critical race theory” is being used in the media and in political campaigns to incite fear and misinform parents and the public. Yet, there is no evidence that critical race theory is being taught in K-12 schools. It is not a curriculum, a teaching practice or a typical area of study in teacher preparation. CRT is taught in law school, graduate school and sometimes at the undergraduate college level.
Source

Acrylic's avatar

Sure, as long as the teachers stay neutral, non-partisan. Their job is to teach facts, not indoctrinate.

Dutchess_III's avatar

^^^^That’s right.

I once had a student try to draw me into a debate about evolution.
“Do you really believe that nonsense?”
All I could say is that I accept the evidence for it.
Then we moved next door to him! Looking forward to many happy debates outside of school!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I don’t think the current GOP has a platform, just things they are against.

LGBTQ

People of color

Taxing the rich

Single payer health benefits

NoMore's avatar

You described the Republican Party to a T. @Tropical_Willie

JLeslie's avatar

@Locke My answer would basically be the same as yours. I was taught the same things in school, and I am wary of teaching current party platforms.

In school I remember also having two weeks of learning about current events. We had to read the newspaper and write up what was happening. I hated it, and was grateful it was just for two weeks, but in retrospect I think it was a great exercise. It was not in a government class, I don’t remember what class it was in, I’m just thinking current events today it is almost impossible for politics not to be part of it, or feels that way anyway.

zenvelo's avatar

@JLeslie It is almost impossible for politics to be kept out of discourse even in elementary school.

My sixth grade teacher had “current events” every morning right after the pledge of allegiance. While a lot of the time kids cut out random filler items from the paper, a lot of the time it was news on the war in Viet Nam, or about protests against the draft.

ragingloli's avatar

I can already hear the outcry.
If you try to teach any factual history of the parties, or their past and especially current political platforms, they will scream “CRT!”, “WOKE!” and “LEFTIST INDOCTRINATION!”.
Florida is already trying to expunge African American history from the curriculum, and it will only get worse.

JLeslie's avatar

@ragingloli I heard DeSantis is backstepping on that move to attack AP history. It was ridiculous what he did. AP is college level courses. I guess maybe he was trying to prove controversial (if we even want to use that word) content in K-12, but it is not a K-12 class, it is just taught in the K-12 building.

Dutchess_III's avatar

De Santis needs to fall.under a bus.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The whole backward FRIGHT wing needs to climb back under the rock; they came out from under ! !

JLeslie's avatar

I think DeSantis will be on the political scene for a very long time. We just have to hope he doesn’t veer even farther to the right.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@JLeslie swastikas and trains to concentration camps, might be DeSantis’ next step !

JLeslie's avatar

@Tropical_Willie I don’t see that from him directly, but he does play to the Nazis in party, so that’s a serious problem.

This whole thing about him and the don’t say gay seems to be a lot of talk and not much too it. I was at a LGBT presentation last week where I live and someone in the audience asked about it, and even the Lesbian couple doing the presentation said it seems overall moot since it doesn’t really come up before 3rd grade anyway.

In Florida the Reedy Creek topic is in the news again, I’m not sure exactly why. I still think that all goes away once DeSantis finishes his term. We’ll see. Universal in Florida is in bed with the Republicans from what I understand.

His change to the abortion law barely changes a thing. I hate that he did it though, and I definitely feel there will be a few women harmed by it, it’s very few though. Unfortunately, it will likely be the women who probably need more flexibility in the law the most.

His changes to mail-in voting laws are definitely farther than I’m comfortable with, but everyone can still mail-in vote.

Overall, he made mini changes in practice, but people see them as huge. Except the Reedy Creek thing is a pretty big deal, and stupid of him to go after Disney. Disney brings in huge revenue to the state.

SnipSnip's avatar

Sure, but not indoctrinated politically. Teach the political process. The legislative process and criminal justice system should be taught. All of this is probably best taught in middle and high school.

NoMore's avatar

It’s called Civics or Government.

jca2's avatar

When I was in 11th grade, we learned about Congress, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and checks and balances.

I think in today’s climate, to talk about what Republicans stand for and what Democrats stand for wouldn’t work. Parents would take offense at the descriptions and there would be an uproar.

I think sticking to the checks and balances and learning about how government works is good.

I know when I worked for the government, a lot of people (the public) had no clue what the County did, what the city did, what the Federal government did. They just had no clue at all. They pay taxes and they have no idea what the town, what the County and what the state and what the Federal government do and what each is responsible for.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 Oh, that’s a great idea to teach more about where your taxes go.

Recently, in an article about DeSantis saying he is going to go after lowering prescription costs, a Republican was quoted in the article saying the government helps to fund a good portion of the research that goes into developing drugs. Imagine that? That’s usually a Democratic line.

I learned about US government in either 8th or 9th grade, I really think it was 8th. I think it would have been better if I had had the class in 10th or 11th.

Strauss's avatar

I was in eight grade—(holy cow! I can’t believe that was more than 60 years ago!)—. The state of Illinois required students to pass a standardized test on the US Constitution. I think that should be a requirement.

I had the advantage if being introduced to the political process at a young age. As part of our civics class we debated Kennedy vs. Nixon.

zenvelo's avatar

When I took Government in high school, we got extra credit for bringing in our parent’s property tax bill. (This was before Prop 13 passed in California). The tx bill itemized what local districts got money.

I remember one kid saying, “why all this money for a mosquito abatement district? We don’t have mosquitos.”

To which the teacher replied, “they must be doing a very good job.”

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