How a Young, Handsome, Innocent Student Learned How to Learn

The last couple months of our Government, Politics, and Citizenship class has been one of very strong learning for me. When I say learning, I know that might be the most average thing you could think of when describing what you do at school, but I mean “I learn” in the most extreme way possible.
To be honest, I did not really join this class because any of those three explicit things in the topic are what tickles my fancy. I mostly just really wanted to drop Chemical Synthesis and needed something to fill that G period. I could not be more glad that I decided to pick up this class though. I am definitely not a man of (I’m 18 now, I can officially say, even if the braces tell you otherwise) strong opinions of politics. I knew my views on the popular issues and hard hitting topics, and was up to date for the most part on most of the information that I felt I needed, but I realized that most of what I knew was formed by my law student brother looking for someone to argue with, and I would research on certain topics just to keep up with my brothers banter.
I’ve spent the last couple months mostly, attentively listening. So when I say “I learned,” I mean that this was the only class I took this year where I went in thinking “I know absolutely nothing, and I’m going to try to get that to change.” I always assume everyone is as smart as me, and I am as smart as everyone, so hearing my classmates busting out what seemed like the insider political sources that they have managed to get over years of secret work in the senate, I tried not to feel threatened.
In the long walk to becoming the BMOC (biggest man on campus, the slightly disappointing aftermath of being big man on campus) through the college process, one of the consistent themes from colleges is their astute promise of learning from other students. I feel like this class has prepared me more than any other for college, because of the lively debate form of learning from every student in the class.

From our teachers half stand-up routine, half brilliant knowledge on modern and the history of politics type of teaching, and the awesome knowledge that everyone in this class had, even on things they knew nothing about, really created a lasting impression on me of school being a time to develop your own ideas from listening to everyone else’s.
Despite going into the class thinking I knew approximately -4 things about most of these topics, I discovered how much opinion I had based on my own life experiences, and beliefs. Just because I didn’t know much about the logistics of money in politics, gun control, or gentrification, doesn’t mean I didn’t have a lot of opinions that I didn’t quite know I had on these issues. That’s another thing that surprised me about this class as we finish up the year. Not many of my opinions on certain things changed, I just knew a lot more about why I thought the way I thought. If it’s okay, I am going to shoot out a couple “before and after” opinions on topics we have discussed. Before, being young, innocent 17 year old Brad, and after being the rugged, knowledgable, full bearded Brad we see today.

Gun Control

Before: We need more of it.
After: We definitely need stricter gun laws. While stricter gun laws won’t necessarily solve many of the issues that lead up to the devastating shootings we sadly see so often, taking the necessary steps in order to take guns out of the hands of people who could use them for harm is incredibly important.

Money in Politics

Before: Not good… or at least that’s what I’ve heard.
After: Spot on Brad. I feel the extreme amounts of money that is used in politics goes against many of the ideals that a lot of these politicians stand for. Money coming in from all different types of corporations can lead to a heavy influence in politics, which we really don’t need. “Corporations should not have the same rights as people”

These are a few of many issues that my knowledge has improved immensely on. I hope OES starts to offer more courses in the future that both challenge and improve beliefs and opinions that I’ve learned everyone has, for the better.


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