This I Believe

John - Edina, Minnesota
Entered on May 8, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: citizenship

Inspiring Future Leaders

Every four years, the United States finds itself immerged in a politically driven state of excitement. In the months leading up to a presidential election, one finds it nearly impossible to avoid getting caught up in the frenzy. The citizens of the United States have one Tuesday in November to voice their opinion, one day, and the course of the next four years is decided. This year there were large movements to involve the “younger generation”. Pathetic statistics were cited, and politicians suddenly noticed the large group of potential voters. Why does their interest stop at a potential vote? What about the future constituents sitting in elementary schools, junior highs, and high schools across the country? People wonder why the younger group of eligible voters chooses not to vote, but the reason is really quite simple. Walk into any school during election time and students are more excited about the election than many voting adults. They hunger for knowledge about politics but are only allowed a small taste. I believe that politics deserves a more prominent place in schools curriculum.

I can distinctly remember walking into the cafeteria of my elementary school and dropping my vote into the ballot box in 5th grade. I felt important, my vote counted. I was fascinated by the process, yet was never exposed any further. My next encounter didn’t come until my 9th grade year, another election year and my first government class. I was amazed at how much I did not know about how the US government worked. During the first week, my teacher had us take the citizenship test, and only a handful of students managed to pass. I believe that the more people are exposed to politics, the more they want to learn.

As a final project we all wrote a bill and held a mock congress. We presented and voted on bills. I did not fully appreciate the process and the excitement of politics until I was exposed to this simulation. As Speaker of the House, I sat behind a desk, gavel in hand, and looked out at my classmates each day; and the looks on their faces told me what I already suspected: they were fascinated by the process and hungry for more.

Politics should not be saved for a mere week or day every four years; it should be an active, yearlong process! In order for the younger generations to grow up into politically savvy voters, they need to be taught more about politics when they have an interest in it. Any teacher will tell you that students will learn more when they have an interest in the subject. Society should take advantage of this and help mold the next great political minds. We risk letting brilliant minds sit idle by not letting students explore the fascinating world of politics.