Another presidential election year means another year that people will complain about voter turnout. Politics do not attract enough attention and the modern school system can be blamed for the large portion of the young voter population failing to participate. The flaws of state-mandated curriculum and teaching techniques have resulted in the majority of the youth in America becoming ignorant toward the government and lacking critical thinking skills that are essential to being a competent citizen.
The history department in most schools is undervalued, but it also is riddled with imperfections. Multiple years in school are wasted on historical concepts that are irrelevant to contemporary issues. Examples of those unnecessary subjects are shown in the Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework. Just by looking at the table of contents, multiple lessons such as "Ancient and Classical Civilizations in the Mediterranean to the Fall of the Roman Empire: Ideas that Shaped History" and "The World from the Fall of Rome through the Enlightenment" are not useful for progressing into the future. Kindergarten through sixth grade should lay down the foundation of American history until the beginning of the twentieth century and begin teaching students to question the significance and purpose of major events. Grades seven through 12 need to focus on the global issues of the 1900s and onward as the issues continue to shape modern societies. The importance of this reform is essential as many students are never taught about recent matters that continue to affect numerous countries today.
Along with changing the subject material, educators need to utilize newspapers and primary sources more often. Scholarly articles are great tools to display the genuine emotion and significance of events from the words of the people that experienced them. Analyzing the sources provides context to why events occurred and the effect on the people. In order to be up-to-date with issues of the present, classrooms need to read and analyze articles in local and national news. This practice would continue to improve the students' critical thinking skills, which is of the essence in order to break away from the robotic process of regurgitation of facts in school, and keep them updated on matters that they will tackle as they enter the adult world.
Once the youth of America is provided with the tools to be informed and analytical, programs should be established by the schools to teach the upperclassmen on how to register to vote and the importance of following up with the privilege in elections. Since the 1972 presidential election, less than half of the population between the ages of 18 and 24 have voted -- the most recent race had a dismal 38 percent turnout. The cause of the low participation rate could be that many young people do not know how to register to vote. Schools hosting meetings for the students to teach them about how to sign up at a public establishment or online would make students more willing to do so.
These changes are necessary to create a society that functions better. The future leaders that are sitting in classrooms now need to gain the skills that can improve the nation and have a positive effect on the world. By escaping from the broken system in place now, young citizens can have an immediate influence on advancing the country into a more intelligent and productive state.