Manual has a reputation as a worldly and socially aware school, but is the average student actually culturally literate?
Manual RedEye’s March 2016 poll found that 83% of Manual students backed Hillary Clinton for the presidential election, while 11% supported Donald Trump.
These findings, coupled with the perception that Manual is an ostensibly inclusive environment, point to the conclusion that the average Manual student is informed on current affairs and skews liberal.
The advent of the social media era has led to the rapid spread of fake news and disinformation. Social media also fails to fully inform its users regarding complex issues.
Due to the recent controversies and current events, it is important now more than ever to be politically informed.
With the recent impeachment trial, the third one in American history, it is inexcusable that students are uninformed as to what is going on with their country’s leadership.
Last month, two reporters from Manual RedEye went to multiple lunches during the school day and asked several students from different grade levels and magnets if they knew anything about the impeachment trial and if they would like to be interviewed about it.
Overwhelmingly, none of the students asked were willing to discuss the issue, or knew any specifics about it.
Many Manual students claim to be in favor or in support of a political party and take a stance on big issues within the political realm, yet cannot pinpoint the real aspects that go into them.
Social pressure and influence is a problem more than ever, pushing teenagers to be for or against certain topics, prohibiting self-exploration and opinion.
The culture of individualism at Manual is a major factor in the development of political identity. This could be a key reason as to why Manual is seen as a mostly liberal school.
The boundary between social acceptance and political persuasion is one that most teenagers cross. However, many current events are complex and are difficult for young people to understand as deeply as adults.
These are major factors that play into the future of our generation and major factors that are on the agenda for our country.
Elections, corruption, climate change, gun violence, women’s rights, healthcare, poverty and education, to name a few, are all deep divisions that could directly affect young voters.
Now, more than ever, it is time for teenagers to get involved in the political process for themselves, and get informed about politics and government.
Current events and news is something rarely talked about in schools. Teachers will often shy away from talking about these pressing issues, their background and history, and their future.
At Manual, the Journalism and Communication magnet has the most access to political discussion and expression, yet it is one of the smallest magnets.
Advanced Placement Comparative Government and Politics is a class where one could assume politics are discussed in class, which they are, but many students are still hesitant to express their political beliefs outside the classroom.
Multiple of the students asked to be interviewed are enrolled in the class, but still refused to answer questions.
There are some teachers who implement the importance of these discussions in their classroom, like AP United States History teacher Dr. Randolph Wieck.
According to Dr. Weick, it is still hard to have these conversations in class due to the pressed time of the curriculum.
“I think they have a lot on their plate because of activities taking up their time these days. When I was in high school, we didn’t have so many things demanding time,” Weick said. “Politics is confusing and what you have to manage in your daily affairs is the turning of events.”
Because of the complexity of politics, Weick believes that it is difficult to keep up with news recently, and even harder to fully understand each issue and politician.
These classes mentioned are also all optional, so not every student is even getting an opportunity to be informed.
With busy schedules and constantly changing news, it is very difficult to be completely informed about every political issue and current event, but it is still very important to be able to form an opinion and learn about these matters.
There are some resources Manual offers, such as Young Democrats and Young Republicans. These two clubs offer political exploration and educated discussion once a week, talking about current events and issues.
Young Republicans meet once a month on Thursdays from 2:30-3:30 in Mr. Richards room. To join the Remind, text @dmhsyr to 81010.
Young Democrats meet on Tuesdays from 2:30-3:30 in the photo gallery in the J&C annex. To join the Remind, text @manualdems to 81010.
If anyone is interested in joining in on the action, we meet in room 254 every tuesday afterschool. #youngdems pic.twitter.com/0eTnHLOgAC
— Manual Young Dems (@dmhs_democrats) January 24, 2017
There are some well-informed students who come from all sides of the political spectrum, but there is a dire need for more.
Now, more than ever, important conversations that can kickstart change into the future and create passion are needed within and beyond the four walls of the classroom.