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Student’s take on classrooms getting political

Amanda Pavic, Staff Writer

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It is common knowledge that most people develop their political opinion based off of their parents’ opinions. At Sandburg specifically, kids who take American Government typically learn that family is the biggest political influencer, followed by gender, religion, region, etc. But an important factor to consider is that kids spend an increasing amount of time around their peers as they get older, and often times, conversations get political. But do the opinions of friends really change anything that a person believes? Most people do admit that, regardless of whether they agree with a political opinion of a friend or not, just hearing the other side of an argument helps them to see both sides in a different way.

Bridget Lynch, a junior, said, “I feel like getting people’s perspectives on issues makes me more conscious of how to express my opinions and realize that not everybody has the same viewpoint as me.”

Although having casual political conversations with friends can be a good experience, many kids agree that sometimes, the situation can get out of hand. This is why discussing politics in a classroom setting can be so beneficial. Not only do kids get to express their opinions, but they can say what they want to in a space where they know a teacher will not let it get out of hand.
Lynch said, “In my English class, we discussed recent events with national anthem protests and we got everybody’s personal input on it and each student’s perspective helped to shine a new light on the issue. Although it didn’t change my personal opinion, it did give me a broader sense on how people felt about it.”

With a teacher in the room to lead the discussion and make sure it stays relevant, kids have a neutral space to discuss ideas. Teachers help to make sure that what is being said is helpful to the argument and that nothing offensive is said. Mr. Echternach, an APUSH teacher at Sandburg, provided insightful information on how teachers usually go about with political discussions in a class. He was a government teacher for 20 years and overall believes that political discussions in school are an important way for students to understand both sides of an issue and have a better understanding of the world around them.

He said, “As a teacher you need to be neutral and not take a side. I think that more often than not, my students did not have an understanding of what side of the issue I was on and that was on purpose. Sometimes I would be on one side and sometimes on the other side. I think you have to enforce the rules as far as how you deal with controversial things. We live in a democratic country and more often than not, we pride ourselves in being able to handle things in a peaceful way. I think that’s something you learn when you are young, that you may have strong emotions about certain issues but there are probably people in the same room that have equally strong feelings the other way about the same issues, and we have to be respectful even if we don’t agree.”

Tasneem Osman, a junior, agrees with this idea and thinks that teachers can be a big help when it comes to aiding in political discussions.

She said, “Teachers make sure that everyone is respecting each other’s opinions, whereas when you’re with a group of friends, you may be too scared to say your opinion because you may be scared that your friend has a completely different opinion. When you’re talking in a class, the teacher might make sure that everyone is respectful.”

Another important aspect of politics in school is that it helps to educate kids. Too often, kids believe whatever they hear from a source that they trust–whether that be a parent or celebrity–without doing a fact check. Kids often times get “facts” off of Twitter or other social media platforms without even going to a real news source and reading up on the issue at hand.

Fortunately, when politics are discussed in school, kids can talk to a trusted source, a teacher, and make sure that what they say and believe is actually real news. They no longer can just turn a blind eye to facts just because they don’t want to believe that they are true. Students can learn from each other and hear what the other side has to say, regardless of whether they agree with it or not.

Osman said, “Even if an opinion may not be that educated, or you think an opinion is wrong, it’s important to be exposed to others ideas, because you’re going to have to accept the fact that other people in life have different opinion even if you disagree with them.”

A lot of Sandburg students have come to the consensus that having a teacher in charge of a debate makes for a good learning experience. Kids cannot just fight in class over their opinions so they have to come ready with facts to support their argument and points to counter the opposing side.

Erin Depke, a sophomore, generally agrees with this and is grateful that teachers allow political discussion so that kids can learn more about a topic without only focusing on their side of the argument.

Depke said, “I think it’s beneficial because you can see others people’s opinions and as long as a teacher is monitoring it to make sure its not getting insane or anything I think it’s great.”

Sandburg students overall do appreciate when teachers allow them to discuss politics in class. When kids know that they can speak up for what they believe and have a teacher back them up, they are more likely to look into their opinions closer. With teachers to educate kids and help them see the difference between the real and fake sources, kids can be successful in backing up their opinions with real facts. Teachers are a reliable resource for kids to go to when they want to be educated on a topic and hopefully use what they have learned to educate those around them as well.

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Student’s take on classrooms getting political