Sunday, July 6, 2008

GWB: High School Government Teacher?

"A totally crazy Saturday-morning thought: Wouldn't George W. Bush make an awesome high-school government teacher? Wouldn't it be something if his post-presidential life would up being that kind of post-service service? How's that for a model? Who needs Harvard visiting chairs and high-end lectures? How about Crawford High? (Or wherever?) Reach out and touch the young before they are jaded, or break them of the cynicism pop culture and possibly their parents have passed down to them. Whatever you think of President Bush, he's a likable guy in love with his country with some history and experience to share," - Kathryn-Jean Lopez, NRO.

Great idea-- let's introduce complex concepts of government and civic engagement from someone who seemingly never opened a history textbook and stole a couple of elections to boot!

It's interesting that she brings up the subject of high school government class, since it's something I've thought a lot about. I've had the opportunity to vote in 5 elections since I turned 18 (one special election, three primaries, and one general), and I've thought about what I wish I would have learned in Government class during each of these election cycles. I've come to the conclusion that Government class sucks, and no one really gives a shit.

Sure, it's important that we learn that there are 100 senators, 435 congressional representatives, and that there are 3 branches of government, and etc. But I believe it's problematic that what I learned in Government class had little to no relevance to the current political discourse.

The most important aspect of introducing American Government and Politics is to encourage the importance of civic participation, and create a nexus between government and the lives of the students. Is it too much to ask that students who complete the course have the ability to turn on the news and have some knowledge of what's going on? And a little introduction to state and local politics would have been helpful, too. It's gotten to the point where most students have a greater grasp of national political events than the goings on in their own backyards (ever wonder why local elites and machines are so prevalent?).

In short, I guess I attribute low voter turnout among youth because of their crappy Goverment classes.

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