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Teach your kids about politics at this age


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I had a student come up to me and share an interesting experiment he just completed with our 9th graders.  Since politics is involved, I'm deleting all party and candidate references to keep my post purely educational.  I just feel it's important enough (and scary enough) to toss out the heads up.

 

Essentially, the student took the candidates running for presidential office by name/party and created a ballot including them.

 

Then he created a ballot based upon current top issues in the country and how each candidate stands on that issue with no name or party attached - just Candidate A, B, C, etc.

 

The voting pattern was so different it's literally scary.  

 

Those who won (and lost) by name did so by a huge margin. 

 

Those who won (and lost) by stance on issues did so by a huge margin.

 

The actual results of who won/lost in the two polls were not anywhere near the same.  They were wildly different.

 

Our 9th graders would be voting by name/party with essentially no knowledge of how the candidates stand on the actual issues!

 

Fortunately, 9th graders can't vote, but it's definitely an eye opening experience to let us know that teaching about elections is incredibly important in the high school years.

 

I really do NOT want to see the results of a similar poll done with adults, I'm sure.  I'd be fearful that the results would be similar.

 

I know we all have different views about what's important and what side of issues we stand on, but PLEASE know what the candidate you are voting for stands for too.  I expect I'm preaching to the choice with Hive moms & dads, but don't expect our offspring to catch on without actually teaching them.  An election year like this one is a great year to use... hence this post!

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Great experiment.

Sadly, I would expect the results for adults to be similar.

 

Ditto here.  There are different ways to accomplish teaching about politics.  We've kind of unschooled this.  We're doing Great Books/ancient literature and ancient world history, so it doesn't fit in real well and DS is kind of busy.  But, with a little extra free time, and some modest "interest" on the part of his parents, DS has been reading a LOT about politics on his own in his free time.  And each day there's something new.  For example, he's learned a lot about the Supreme Court on his own in the last 24 hours!  I just left out two books that I thought might interest DS.  If he picks them up of the table, great; if not, he'll find something else interesting to him.

 

I'm just saying that there are different ways to do this and share something that's worked extremely well for us. 

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Great experiment.

Sadly, I would expect the results for adults to be similar.

 

Part of me wants to see a similar poll of actual voting adults, but part of me is really fearful of looking at those results if I were to see them.

 

I was surprised at our school results.  9th graders haven't had Gov't yet, but I'd have thought there's been enough discussion going on in general for them to have gleaned a basic foundation for the candidates and/or parties.  Apparently not.

 

IF they are just picking up names from their parents and their views are similar to their parent's views... it's a scary thought.  Even if it's not their parents they are tagging along with, it's no better if it's FB or their friends in general.

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Wow. That's startling! I'll definitely start talking more about the issues with the girls, and not just in a "gosh, turn off the tv, it's THAT ONE GUY again" way.

 

If you're an adult who's worried you don't know enough about which candidates support which issues, you might try this site. They have a political quiz, and you can be as thorough (or not) as you like. Surprisingly to me, THAT ONE GUY wasn't at the bottom of my personal list, it turned to be some other dude. But THAT ONE GUY was near the bottom :)

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Wow. That's startling! I'll definitely start talking more about the issues with the girls, and not just in a "gosh, turn off the tv,

 

I rarely talk with students about specific people in politics because I'm math/science for one, and for two, I want them to think about the topics when we do get talking about anything political in nature (actually understanding the reasoning behind both sides and thinking about which way they align).  I've always assumed they could figure out which candidate was right for them if they knew how they thought about the topic at hand.

 

Now I'm seriously rethinking that.  I'm not sure they're making that extra connection (correctly) on their own.  When things come up (usually outside of actual math/science class time), I'll continue to be sure they see all sides about any particular topic, but I'll also start putting names with who's in favor of what - at least in election years when it becomes obvious and matters.

 

If they get it down, maybe they'll share with parents and friends.

 

Actual voting is personal, of course, but knowing to choose the correct candidate to support your views is critical.  Sound bites do not convey that sort of knowledge well and evidently, few do the research.

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Wow. That's startling! I'll definitely start talking more about the issues with the girls, and not just in a "gosh, turn off the tv, it's THAT ONE GUY again" way.

 

If you're an adult who's worried you don't know enough about which candidates support which issues, you might try this site. They have a political quiz, and you can be as thorough (or not) as you like. Surprisingly to me, THAT ONE GUY wasn't at the bottom of my personal list, it turned to be some other dude. But THAT ONE GUY was near the bottom :)

 

I just ran that survey.  Surprisingly enough (not really) the best I can do with any one potential candidate is 79%.  They identified me as Centrist.  No kidding.  I flip between parties and candidates depending upon the topic.  That happens every election.  When the time comes to actually vote I need to figure out which topics are most important to me.

 

At least I wasn't surprised with who I matched best - or who I matched best when certain topics were considered.

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Wow. That's startling! I'll definitely start talking more about the issues with the girls, and not just in a "gosh, turn off the tv, it's THAT ONE GUY again" way.

 

If you're an adult who's worried you don't know enough about which candidates support which issues, you might try this site. They have a political quiz, and you can be as thorough (or not) as you like. Surprisingly to me, THAT ONE GUY wasn't at the bottom of my personal list, it turned to be some other dude. But THAT ONE GUY was near the bottom :)

 

That is a neat site! And I am right where I thought I was. Only one thing surprised me. I love all the breakdowns.

 

Dd is pretty political savvy for a 13 yr old. We love the political process, though. We look forward to debate nights. We make popcorn or have a snack and sit together to watch it and talk about the answers and antics.

 

On primary nights we do easy dinners or order pizza so we can watch the results come in unhindered by dishes and whatnot.  :lol:  We're a little weird, I know.

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I just ran that survey.  Surprisingly enough (not really) the best I can do with any one potential candidate is 79%.  They identified me as Centrist.  No kidding.  I flip between parties and candidates depending upon the topic.  That happens every election.  When the time comes to actually vote I need to figure out which topics are most important to me.

 

At least I wasn't surprised with who I matched best - or who I matched best when certain topics were considered.

 

 

I hit 85% with one candidate on one 'side'. My highest candidate on the 'opposing side' is 58%. 

 

I am 92% in agreement with one party, though.

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The quiz site seemed fairly accurate to me when I plugged in my answers. They came up with the only person I would remotely think of voting for despite our disagreements.

 

If they took it the next step and took to account politicians previous actions versus their "talk" then things would get really interesting. :)

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I worked all day at a poll several years ago.  One of my family members was up for re-election in a local office.  It was not a presidential year, so most of the ballot was local candidates and ballot initiatives.

 

It was troubling how poorly informed many of the voters were.  A great many of them had no idea what the ballot initiatives meant, yet they had voted on them anyway.  Several people voting indicated that they didn't know who the current office holders were.  Yet they were there to vote for or against them.  Turnout was low, but would have been even lower if not for the EMS levy on the ballot.

 

The area hews toward one political persuasion.  Even though the local offices were officially non-partisan races, the local party endorsed specific candidates and handed out a sample ballot.  That sample ballot was probably the most influential item available to voters.  In several elections, sitting office holders have lost elections solely because they lost the party endorsement.  Frequently they lost to someone who was far less capable, but who had stronger party affiliations.  In the most recent election a candidate finally wised up and printed his own sample ballot on the same color paper with a political description (ie, conservative/liberal) instead of the party name (ie, Republican/Democrat).  He actually beat the endorsed candidate.

 

Seriously, the lack of background information displayed by people coming in to vote (or coming out from voting) was dismaying.  

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It's in none of our best interests to have people voting based on factors other than well-understood evidence based policy. 

 

:iagree:  This needs to be shouted out to many folks I think.  (NOT meaning Hive members.  I honestly think we tend to be more educated than many in the general population.  This doesn't mean we agree on all topics.  It means we understand more about where we are coming from and why we believe as we do.)

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I will say something that is totally politically incorrect:

It would be great if people had to take a test before they are allowed to vote, a test that tests whether they have thought about, and understand, the issues they are voting on. The argument on both sides, and the broader ramifications.

 

Yes I know, not happening. But one can dream....

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I will say something that is totally politically incorrect:

It would be great if people had to take a test before they are allowed to vote, a test that tests whether they have thought about, and understand, the issues they are voting on. The argument on both sides, and the broader ramifications.

 

Yes I know, not happening. But one can dream....

 

I'd be ok even with a test that asked questions about basic governmental organization.

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That was a really good link, Tanaqui. Thanks for posting it. I'm going to have my eldest take it to see who her views most line up with. She's an avid follower of politics. In fact, she's asked to watch parts of the recent debates that she had to miss due to me making her go to bed at a decent hour.

 

I was disappointed that one of the candidates who has since dropped from the race wasn't listed on the results page. I think I would have lined up pretty well with him.

I was not surprised at the party I most agree with (not one of the main two), but am not thrilled about the top candidate they matched me with. Blerg.

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The quiz site seemed fairly accurate to me when I plugged in my answers. They came up with the only person I would remotely think of voting for despite our disagreements.

 

Didn't work at all for me.

 

I got between 63-77% for every single candidate. What I would consider the two most polar candidates on the list were at 77% & 76% matches. I don't think that is even possible. They would have to agree on 50% of the questions and that seems pretty far fetched. When I looked at the matched answers, I didn't see how they got the percentages. One that had me matched at 73% actually had less than 25% of answers that matched when I looked through.  :huh:

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:lol: All 3 of us were sitting with our laptops on our laps taking the quiz. Thank you for sharing the link!

 

I'm a lot more centrist than I thought I was. :huh: My results are pretty accurate overall for top 3 candidate results but not so much for the rest.

 

I wonder if the question they asked right at the end skews answers (mine was if you could vote today who would you vote for).

 

We are like the PP who said popcorn is involved. I love this time of the year because I learn so much from the whole process This is a special year for us because we can finally vote. DS timed his US Government course to coincide with the elections too. Among his projects is a very fun task...pick a candidate and track their campaign, stance, debate performance etc.

Edited by quark
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I liked the map that showed how closely we matched the rest of the country.   :coolgleamA:

 

I also liked clicking on the candidates after the test and seeing how their answers compared, esp on some issues that aren't as important to me as I wasn't as "up" on those, but if I'm thinking of sharing with kids, I want to be.

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Didn't work at all for me.

 

I got between 63-77% for every single candidate. What I would consider the two most polar candidates on the list were at 77% & 76% matches. I don't think that is even possible. They would have to agree on 50% of the questions and that seems pretty far fetched. When I looked at the matched answers, I didn't see how they got the percentages. One that had me matched at 73% actually had less than 25% of answers that matched when I looked through.  :huh:

 

Did you pick from the Yes/No options or did you click on Other Choices?  The Other Choices does give a more nuanced array of options.  

 

I often find polls like this frustrating.  If you ask someone if they think the country is on the right track and they say no, they might have a completely opposite idea of where the right direction is from another no answerer.

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Creekland, I'm not surprised by your ds's results.  My dc just told me the other day about a conversation with a friend.  Dc said the two of them talked about and agreed on what they thought about many issues, but then when they talked about who they would vote for if they could, friend said she'd vote for the political viewpoint that was completely opposite of her opinions (not realizing that it was opposite).  Why?  That's how her family votes.  Dc tried to explain to her why that didn't make sense, but the friend didn't want to listen.  I hope she figures out how to be consistent before she is old enough to vote.

 

 

 

 

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Ha, I took that quiz. It isn't hard to know who'd I'd be voting for if I was an American :) 100% match.

 

I have to retake that quiz I think.  I know for sure I do not agree with the person to the extent the quiz claimed.  What I didn't realize until halfway though is that clicking on the third choice opened up several more choices.  I know I would have answered differently otherwise.

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If they took it the next step and took to account politicians previous actions versus their "talk" then things would get really interesting. :)

 

I think this is important. I wonder how that particular site figures out a candidate's beliefs on something - their official platform? how they've voted previously (if available)? what they've said in the last couple of months? 

 

For some of the issues, some of the candidates have either flip-flopped depending on the audience or circumstances/time or their answers have changed/become more nuanced.

 

From looking at previous election years, it seems that many of the candidates spend the primary leaning far out there (left or right), but come toward the center once they are the pick for their party. So, how someone talks now doesn't always mean it will be how they talk in 8-9 months or how they will act after they are elected.

 

I wonder if the reason that I usually end up leaning toward a third party candidate is so that I'm not so disappointed later when the main candidates go soft on their hard lines from earlier in the campaign. It is a cop-out, to be sure, but one that I'm aware of due to the extra thought this thread has made me do. 

 

Will it be better for the country to be led by a candidate that I only agree 75-85% on important (to me) issues or one that doesn't get elected, but I agree with 90+% of the time?

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From looking at previous election years, it seems that many of the candidates spend the primary leaning far out there (left or right), but come toward the center once they are the pick for their party. So, how someone talks now doesn't always mean it will be how they talk in 8-9 months or how they will act after elected.

I agree. They are saying things to their base but when elected the two major parties seem to have very similar actions. I don't know that I can give examples without turning the thread political but it makes sense in a campaigning venue to do so especially during primaries.

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Wow. That's startling! I'll definitely start talking more about the issues with the girls, and not just in a "gosh, turn off the tv, it's THAT ONE GUY again" way.

 

If you're an adult who's worried you don't know enough about which candidates support which issues, you might try this site. They have a political quiz, and you can be as thorough (or not) as you like. Surprisingly to me, THAT ONE GUY wasn't at the bottom of my personal list, it turned to be some other dude. But THAT ONE GUY was near the bottom :)

That was a really helpful site.  I was not at all surprised with who it matched me to at the top, as well as who was very much opposite from me.  (I was a little surprised at the things where my bottom person and I did agree, though, as I had not expected that.)  It was good to know that I choose or don't choose people based on more than just a "gut feeling" or based on their party.

 

Did I miss questions about school, Common Core, school choice, and the like?  I was surprised not to see any of that.

Edited by happypamama
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Great questionnaire.  I am happy I landed where I expected! My candidate was 1% lower than the person I was matched with (89 vs 90%), but that person is choice #2.  Those in the other party were 23% and below. Both my kids get to vote this year.  I think they need to take a quiz, at least so they can figure out what some of the issues voting brings out.

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That was a really helpful site.  I was not at all surprised with who it matched me to at the top, as well as who was very much opposite from me.  (I was a little surprised at the things where my bottom person and I did agree, though, as I had not expected that.)  It was good to know that I choose or don't choose people based on more than just a "gut feeling" or based on their party.

 

Did I miss questions about school, Common Core, school choice, and the like?  I was surprised not to see any of that.

 

For some of the categories you had to click on a "tab" beneath the listed questions on the topic to get additional questions.  It was weird how they did it that way - and weird how they set up "other stances."  Why didn't they just put all choices out there to start with?

 

If you click on the candidate after you are shown how much you match, it will show you how the candidate says they believe if available.

 

Naturally, nothing says what they will actually be able to DO vs just want or how they might change their mind, but at least it's a starting point for understanding the basics of who one is voting for.  The 9th graders in the OP didn't even have those basics.

Edited by creekland
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99% with my preferred candidate.  

 

I am definitely not a centrist!

 

For years, I was a committee person and then minority inspector.  Most election days, especially primaries, there was a very select kind of voter who actually showed up - older men of a particular party.  

 

I lived in a huge neighborhood filled with professional, college educated people.  No more than 5-10 would show up on those days.

 

Sad.

 

 

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For some of the categories you had to click on a "tab" beneath the listed questions on the topic to get additional questions.  It was weird how they did it that way - and weird how they set up "other stances."  Why didn't they just put all choices out there to start with?

 

Probably because then it's a super long poll, and I bet a lot of people just want to get a quick view of the highlights.

 

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Took the quiz. Just as I suspected, I am so centrist that I exist in a political no man's land, LOL!

 

It is an interesting place to be, isn't it?   Each election I'm not really figuring out who I want to vote for.  I have to figure out what topics mean the most to me and that sways my vote, 'cause no single party follows my preferences on major topics.  I vote for what I want on some topics and that ends up being against what I want on others (sigh).

 

Creekland,

 

I would be really curious to see how the faculty faired on the student's quiz. I think that would be an interesting comparison! 

 

Thanks for the link, Tanaqui. I will give it a go later today.

 

I'm pretty sure our faculty would do just fine.  I don't interact with everyone, of course, but those I do interact with (math/science/English/gov't and assorted others) are very up on what is going on in our political world. 

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only one science issue?

only two education questions?

 

I am surprised by the results because I most do not agree on many issues with the candidate it has chosen as my match.

I am wondering to what degree the questionnaire is skewed by numbers of questions asked about each particular group of issues.

 

I know that, as a social liberal but fiscal conservative, I never really fit in a box.

Edited by regentrude
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One additional thought: in the end, what matters may not be a candidate's personal stance on issues, but how likely it is that this candidate would be able to keep his promises. I see little value in electing a person with whose stance I might agree if it were clear that not a single of his suggestions had any chance of getting through congress. It might have been more productive in furthering the goal to elect another candidate who would have a better chance of accomplishing at least something.

 

So, agreeing with a certain candidate strongly does not have to mean it is prudent to elect this candidate.

Edited by regentrude
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One additional thought: in the end, what matters may not be a candidate's personal stance on issues, but how likely it is that this candidate would be able to keep his promises. I see little value in electing a person with whose stance I might agree if it were clear that not a single of his suggestions had any chance of getting through congress. It might have been more productive in furthering the goal to elect another candidate who would have a better chance of accomplishing at least something.

 

So, agreeing with a certain candidate strongly does not have to mean it is prudent to elect this candidate.

 

Agreed.  And one of the candidates that I matched closely with is someone that I wouldn't trust.  So there's that dynamic, too.

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One additional thought: in the end, what matters may not be a candidate's personal stance on issues, but how likely it is that this candidate would be able to keep his promises. I see little value in electing a person with whose stance I might agree if it were clear that not a single of his suggestions had any chance of getting through congress. It might have been more productive in furthering the goal to elect another candidate who would have a better chance of accomplishing at least something.

 

So, agreeing with a certain candidate strongly does not have to mean it is prudent to elect this candidate.

 

I talk about this often with kids... and other things a president should have - like decent character traits.

 

It's not all in how they answer questions.  I want to see wisdom - an ability to think - for when situations happen that haven't happened before.  And I like someone who can be diplomatic about things personality-wise.

 

There are many things to consider when actually voting, but still... one really shouldn't vote off just names and sound bites.  They should dig deeper to know more IMO.  These 9th graders were voting off names/parties when what they wanted to see happen was essentially the polar opposite according to the issues.

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I always print the ballots for major elections for my dc and have them vote blind.  After they "turn in their ballots" to me, we discuss what each person stands for.  It is always eye opening when they want to change their vote.  We explain their votes have been cast and it is too late, that is why one must be informed on the issues before casting one's ballots!

 

 

 

Eta:  Survey results 86% with a candidate that I am surprised I matched with, but one which dh supports.  Heehee.  76% match with a candidate that I decidedly do not support.  Interesting!!

Edited by Excelsior! Academy
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I can easily see logically voting for someone whose personal beliefs about particular hot topics doesn't line up with my personal beliefs.  The president's personal opinions and beliefs on those topics, for the most part, don't determine the laws or policies on those issues.  I look for much broader characteristics--how do I think the individual will approach the job?  How will the individual work other world leaders?  Who might be appointed to key roles?  Who might be nominated for Supreme Court?  Who might be appointed to the Federal Reserve?

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I can easily see logically voting for someone whose personal beliefs about particular hot topics doesn't line up with my personal beliefs.  The president's personal opinions and beliefs on those topics, for the most part, don't determine the laws or policies on those issues.  I look for much broader characteristics--how do I think the individual will approach the job?  How will the individual work other world leaders?  Who might be appointed to key roles?  Who might be nominated for Supreme Court?  Who might be appointed to the Federal Reserve?

 

I have to do this all the time since my beliefs don't line up with any one party.  Which hot topics are most important to me?  And yes, the broader characteristics mean a ton in my voting.  I will easily pick a wise leader who can get along with others over someone who might match my views more closely.

 

It's still different than knowing (or not knowing) what a party or individual believes about the hot topics that concern the voter.  This last part is what was happening with the 9th graders.

 

They're young, so it's not a major issue.  It just shows they need to be taught what to look for and think about.  I've already picked up my conversations with students when it works into what we're doing.

 

FWIW I'm not promoting "my" preferred candidate and dissing others.   We're having deeper conversations about knowing what someone wants to be able to do and is likely to be able to do - using specific someones instead of generic when talking about hot topics.  I've used that poll as a launching point.  It gets kids attention.  Even they can look at the results and see something is wrong.

 

These conversations do not replace learning about algebra though.  They're side issues as part of "other" conversation.  We have a long time before Nov, so there's no rush.

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Wow. That's startling! I'll definitely start talking more about the issues with the girls, and not just in a "gosh, turn off the tv, it's THAT ONE GUY again" way.

 

If you're an adult who's worried you don't know enough about which candidates support which issues, you might try this site. They have a political quiz, and you can be as thorough (or not) as you like. Surprisingly to me, THAT ONE GUY wasn't at the bottom of my personal list, it turned to be some other dude. But THAT ONE GUY was near the bottom :)

 

Great site.  Thank you.  

 

:patriot:

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