Rising conflicts expose political inadequacies in students

January 24, 2020 — by Nitya Marimuthu

As the world rages, Saratoga remains inside a pristine bubble. 

This bubble is no doubt safe — it protects the affluent city with its well-educated, successful citizens. Occasionally, an outsider tries to wander in but is chased away by the high house prices and substantial cost of living. 

The result of this mind-set is that students here go through their lives with little to no understanding of the strife and dangers that afflict much of the nation, much less the world. 

Take, for example, problems with crime. When a nearby city like San Jose has a shooting, the bubble assures students here that they have nothing to worry about — this concern is for the rest of the world, not Saratoga. When the President elects to have a drone  assassinate an Iranian general, the bubble tells them it doesn’t matter and to focus on academics and school and eventual admission into a top-ranked college. 

Shhhh, the bubble says. Politics don’t belong inside here. Why focus on the affairs that affect the rest of the country when AP Physics looms?

The bubble covers the eyes and ears of the students, leaving them unaware about the world — it’s an ignorance that rears its ugly head as the political situation between Iran and the U.S. becomes increasingly tense. 

This blindness toward the rest of the world is no longer beneficial to teens. At a younger age, this naivety might have preserved their innocence, but it is time for us to wake up and see the world around us. We can no longer stand to be barely politically adequate with only a few years before we are sent into real life. 

As much as it is commendable to avoid political conflict in class, the school needs to find a way to deliver information about the international and domestic affairs that occur. For students who already have limited knowledge on the political landscape of the world, navigating the contradicting information from leaders and news outlets as diverse as CNN and Fox can be difficult.

As online sources increase, an abundance of information and false information barrages readers. To be able to understand the credibility of each source, a viewer has to have prior knowledge of the organization writing it and its biases. Finding minimally biased information that properly delivers facts has increased in difficulty as the number of fake news sources and methods have increased. 

The confusion over outlets that provide clear and fair information causes students to turn toward unreliable sources. To understand complex issues, students often turn to social media to deliver quick information about current events. 

It is common to see students share posts, including tweets that aim to summarize multifaceted issues in less than 280 characters, in order to prove their engagement in current affairs. These tweets fail to provide the whole picture and cause teens to feel like further research is unnecessary — they think that they already know the full situation.

Our political inadequacy could easily be fixed by an inclusion of basic affairs incorporated into history classes. The information would not have to go into detail, as many students are not interested in the politics of the world; however, it would serve as a brief to keep students aware of the situation around them. 

This option has already been implemented by AP Economics and Government classes, which spend time at the beginning of class to discuss political issues and current events. A similar approach could be taken by all of the history teachers to provide a continuous update of world events starting freshman year, allowing students to build up knowledge over the years.

The bubble can only protect teens for so long. At some point, we have to venture outside into a world where it will be helpful and perhaps even essential to have a real understanding of larger and important issues.

 

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