High School Civic Education in Michigan and its Potential Effects on Political Participation
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In terms of our current state, there are a number of people throughout the United States who have felt as though their government is not properly representing their interests. We can see this particularly through the populist movement in which people are becoming deeply wary of political figures and vilifying those that seem to go against their interests. These mentalities are dangerous as it creates animosity toward specific groups and promotes uncompromising values. To address this, I would like to first find out to what extent our system is lacking in participation. In order to do this, I am going to focus on the state of Michigan as a sample in voter turnout and participatory action on the state and local level. By looking at voter turnout of federal, state, and local elections, we will be able to conceive of a general extent to which people are involved in politics. Involving state and local elections will allow us to delve deeper into the populace's interest in local and national community. Additionally, I will be looking toward other modes of participation. Because most of these modes are not numerically observable, it is difficult to give strict empirical data. However, we are able to look at public mentality and the current state of certain entities such as group membership and shifts in attitudes toward social movements. After defining, evaluating, and prioritizing participation in government, I would like to delve into ways in which we can improve it in the state of Michigan. My main focus will be on our education system. Throughout my studies, education is a tenet of society that is proven to be most influential and pervasive. Through any course of study or any subject, the modification and promotion of education can have great influence over the behaviors of a populace. Because this study is politically focused, my educational focus will be civic education in public high schools. While politics can spread across numerous fields, this is one that seems most closely related. I will examine whether civic education modifications and improvements can change the way in which people participate in government. This will include the exploration of not only what our civic education system consists of today, but also whether it can be improved to promote participation. To do this, an exploration of the state curriculum along with a few sample local curriculums is essential to asses the civic education standards for public high schools. I will also delve deeper in assessing whether participation has been emphasized enough as the system stands today. Following this exploration, I would like to assess what potential changes could be made in order to promote this change in participation in the content of experiential education. Experiential education is one that has been studied mainly by participatory democratic thinker John Dewey in a number of his works. Using his work as a general context, I will be looking toward the concept of experience to promote a system that more closely mimics the democratic ideals of participatory democratic thinkers.