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The Milton Measure

Milton Students Unaware of Public Issues

by Eliza Scharfstein on Friday, October 25th, 2013

Milton fosters rigorous learning in the arts, math, sciences, and humanities during the academic day; however, we put a surprising lack of importance on current events. Although Milton breeds smart and ambitious students, the school fails to provide a significant channel for understanding what happens beyond the so-called “Milton bubble.”

Last week, I asked five of my friends (all sophomore girls) to take a “News IQ Quiz” created by the Pew Research Center. I gave them substantial time to answer the thirteen questions and recorded their scores in addition to my own. The average score was 6 out of 13. Although my friends are a small subset of the Milton community, the people I tested gave me a brief understanding of how Milton students would perform. Though the score is better than 52% of the 1,052 people who took the “nationally representative survey,” it nonetheless reminds us how we at this prestigious school should push to be among the best in our global understanding–and how we still have a long way to go.

Milton sponsors political groups, such as Public Issues Board (PIB), Young Republicans, and Foward-looking Liberal Action Group (F.L.A.G.), all of which are great ways to discuss on-going issues. One might argue, too, that the required class Current Events and Public Speaking (CEPS) educates students on current affairs home and abroad. However, this class meets only twice a week during one season of sophomore year, too scarcely to keep up with the constantly changing matters across the world. Therefore, Milton should press beyond these groups: a program or initiative that allows students to not only form opinions about the world but also be informed about the world itself. After all, how can we argue the fault of the recent government shutdown without knowing what is really happening in Washington?

Sometimes, it is easy to forget that there are much larger issues than a froyo outage in Forbes or a disappointing sports game. The sad reality is, however, that there are countries are at war, economies collapsing, and natural disasters occurring. We must understand these issues, in an attempt to be more aware of the world in which we live, to understand how it functions, to help those struggling with injustice, and to argue for our beliefs.

The best way to promote student awareness would be to designate time to read daily newspapers or watch the news. Though this solution is simple, taking a significant amount of time out of our busy days to sit with a newspaper or lounge in front of CNN can easily be placed last on a student’s to-do list. An ever easier, completely free solution is for the many students that have smartphones to download a news app. Right before I go to bed, I routinely skim through a couple of major headlines just to get a taste of what is going on around me and around the world. I am definitely not a news expert, but I am able to stay up-to-date by taking a small chunk of time out of my day to become informed. We as students should make better use of this resource that is literally at our fingertips.

In addition to promoting news apps, Milton should at the institution level implement a small current events section into our history courses. Of course, there is a lot to cover in the courses already, so periods devoted to current events would be impractical. But simply taking 10 minutes once a week would be an effective yet time-effective way to inform students of the news around us.

We can easily forget the importance of political awareness when we are surrounded by such a caring and demanding community. But beyond the bubble, important events are occurring, and it is our job as citizens of the world to know, think, and understand them. While we as students ought to take responsibility for keeping up with the news and looking beyond the Milton Bubble to the real world, Milton, as a world-class school, should be promoting education and awareness around current events for its students.

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Posted by Eliza Scharfstein on Oct 25 2013. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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