Between an escalating and ever-destructive Middle East crisis, disastrous Somali warfare, Ukrainian revolts, and Sunni terrorist threats, the international political sphere has been turbulent over the past few months. These events have kept Washington, D.C. and most of the country engaged in a constant cycle of uncertainty and anxiety.
Despite these current events, though, it often feels as though Marlborough students are sheltered in our own “Marlborough bubble.” During the school year, we are bombarded with homework, SAT practice, and extracurricular activities and consequently remain detached from much of what’s going on in the world around us.
Both teachers and students alike have observed this sheltered existence at Marlborough. Some cite lack of knowledge about various issues, while others point to the taboo nature of the topics themselves. Discussion of politics or current events can cause discomfort or anxiety, and differing views have the potential to cause tension in friendships or student-teacher relationships.
Several courses have been introduced in recent years to combat students’ lack of engagement, including Regional Studies, International Relations, and Economics, all of which are taught by various members of the History and Social Sciences Department. The classes are offered primarily to seniors and discuss matters of globalization, Middle East relations, and wealth disparity, among other topics. They also provide insight into many facets of current events.
However, the lack of political awareness seems to remain prevalent in the School’s culture as a whole, and this sentiment is not exclusive to Marlborough. In 2010, Michael Carpini, Dean of the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a study through the Pew Charitable Trusts on the disengagement of young Americans from public life. His article, “Gen.com: Youth, civic engagement, and the new information environment,” reveals a national and upward spiraling trend of youth indifference to local and national politics. Carpini found that only 26% of American youth between ages 15 and 24 believed that being involved in democracy and voting was ‘extremely important’. Additionally, only 14% of people in the same age bracket have ever joined a club or organization that deals directly with government or politics, while 64% have joined a non-political club or organization. Only one in four young Americans, ages 15 to 24, believes that government or elected officials have a major impact on his or her day-to-day life.
Current events have a direct correlation to the food we buy, the places we visit, and the price of gas for our cars. It is essential that we read newspapers and educate ourselves on the events of the world and of our country in order to lead more active and influential lives.