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Politics in Schools?

by Eddie Rayner

Have an opinion? Should students be provided a space to discuss and learn about political issues?

Schools should not give their political views to the students, but the question is whether

teachers should create a space where young people are free to make up their own minds about the big political issues of the day.

In a recent study in Scotland, many young women said that there is a shortage of education on politics and that they do not get enough opportunities to discuss social and political issues at school. There is no doubt that the third ‘Status of Young Women in Scotland’ report reveals an appetite, shared by students throughout the world, for learning about politics.

There are problems to this approach, though. Students need to learn rhetorical skills so they can eloquently express their political beliefs, but they should never be told what to think about political issues. However, most adults have strong political opinions, and the trick for teachers would be keeping these out of the classroom. Failure to do so and the ‘what do you think?’ question is the question that gets lost when a teacher is agenda-driven.

Sanjeev Tyagi, a parent of children attending the Global Indian International School (GIIS) Dubai, has other concerns: “Teaching politics in schools has no role and should never be a part of the curriculum. Children need to learn the basics first. The world needs harmony, tolerance, and happiness, so the focus should be on teaching such things so that students will devote their lives to peaceful co-existence.”

This is an excellent point. Politics, by its very nature, is divisive; politics are why we have wars and why climate change is not being fully tackled. We probably need to tear down the current political edifice and develop something new so that the world can survive and prosper. Power and greed have to be left in the waste bin.

So perhaps politics – and the lessons we have to learn from ‘old politics’ – could be taught in some kind of extracurricular club, but even if it’s supposed to be unbiased politics, it could turn bad if schools are directed to do it.

Do you think students should be allowed to discuss politics in school?