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One of the purposes of formal education is to inspire students to take a greater interest in civic responsibility. This means teaching them about political issues and encouraging them to take a position on those issues. In so doing, politics and education become linked together, so it’s important to understand how one affects the other. To understand this relationship, it’s necessary to look at how learning about politics influences the political attitudes of students.
There are several factors that influence the relationship between political involvement and education. For instance, those with more developed cognitive functioning are more likely to take an interest in politics. Those students gifted with more advanced verbal skills, coupled with a talent for abstract reasoning, are often more interested in political issues. Students with these abilities, who additionally have stronger memory recall, typically perform better in school, as well.
The socio-economic status of the student’s family also plays a factor in their political intelligence. Much like some private schools and more advanced educational opportunities, politics is usually more accessible to students of wealthier families. This is not a deliberate obstacle, but rather a result of unfortunate circumstances. Students from poorer families just don’t have the extra time and resources to spend on politics. Their concerns become more focused on maintaining employment and providing for basic needs.
Finally, the curriculum to which students are exposed will directly affect their interest in political issues. Traditionally, students were expected to memorize dates and facts. This created a system in which dialogue was frowned upon, and students were discouraged from sharing their opinions. Today, a more liberal approach to education helps students explore their own beliefs, morals, and opinions. By offering more opportunities for open discussion, schools help students become more politically aware. This helps students develop more critical attitudes, which enables a more objective view of issues facing society.
While it may not be possible to change the socio-economic background of some students, schools can take a greater effort in helping to better develop cognitive functioning. This will give students the tools they need to critically analyze political issues in the classroom. They will develop these skills over time and take them out into the world with them. By encouraging political involvement in the classroom, schools can instill a more civic-minded attitude in all young people.