Some people believe that teenagers are not knowledgable enough about politics, the economy, international affairs, and other issues from today's news. How important is it to learn about current events? Do you feel that the schools are doing enough to teach students about relevant issues? Or is it the responsibility of the students themselves to be well-informed?
As he gulps down his favorite cereal, young Johnny flips past the front page and world news to the sports section. His brother, Tom, grabs the comics and Sue reaches for the horoscopes. Johnny, Tom and Sue are young American teens who lack the interest and initiative to explore the events of the world around them.
Why do American teens lack interest in politics and foreign affairs? Do they fail to see the importance behind current events or don't they care? Let the economists fix the economy. Leave politics to senators and governors. The ambassadors can deal with foreign affairs. Could this be the attitude of today's youth?
Hopefully not, for if it is, upcoming generations will become so dependent on their elders that when it becomes their turn to be the senators, the economists or the ambassadors, they will falter.
In order to create a better tomorrow, we must examine the present; we must stop the problems of today. When the stock market crashes or a bombing occurs, teachers and students must take time out for classroom discussions. Only by studying current events can we recognize the faults of society and find ways to improve.
I believe that the current events should be just as important a part of the school's curriculum as math, science and English. It should be taught in the schools from grade one. Children should learn the importance of politics, foreign affairs and the economy, so that when they grow older they will stop on their way to the sports page or comics and learn a little bit about their world and how they can help it grow stronger.
KARIN ANDES Parkdale
High schools definitely do not teach enough about current events. Although three years of history are required to graduate, none of these courses help pupils interpret the happenings of the present.
The war in Viet Nam was an important part of history, but many U.S. history courses fail to teach about it. The past is important in interpreting the world today, but what good does it do if the students are unaware of today's news? It seems to me that the citizens of this country pay taxes for public schools to educate the future leaders, and that the schools are failing.
However, it isn't solely the responsibility of the schools to make students aware of the news. Students as citizens and future voters should make an effort to keep up with current world affairs. But many fail to. Keeping up with the news shouldn't be just for "smart" kids, but for everyone.
DENA YOUNG High Point
Who's Reagan? Doesn't he own that big market on Wall Street? And isn't "Gorbachev" the Russian word for "bless you?"
Laugh now, but pay later. The future of the United States seems pretty dim when some teenagers think that Gary Hart is the up and coming fashion designer. I think that schools are teaching students about the relevant issues of 500 years ago, and not placing enough emphasis on current events.
As a student, I feel a certain responsibility to keep up with issues in today's news. The United States cannot continue to be a superpower in the future if no one understands what's going on. It wouldn't be much fun having everyone talking about the Persian Gulf if I had never heard of it before.
If history classes could devote at least one day a week to discussing current events, I firmly believe teenagers would be more aware of the issues in today's news.
It can't hurt. After all, it was in history class that I learned the Ayatollah wasn't the president of Chrysler.
MANDY BURT Queen Anne
It is very important for today's teens to be informed about today's issues.
Our Founding Fathers thought it necessary to have educated, well-informed voters to maintain a free democracy. To be an informed voter, we need to be knowledgable about today's events.
I feel most schools aren't doing enough to motivate their students to be informed. Many students think today's world events really don't affect them personally.
As part of a current issues class at Lanham Christian School, students are encouraged to attend town meetings, to see how people respond, and how meetings are conducted.
These students then give reports on the meetings in class, trying to motivate others to become involved.
LORINDA RAILSBACK Lanham Christian
I feel students today are not aware enough of current events, which is ridiculous if you look at a couple of facts.
Students cannot expect to do as well in their classes if they are unaware of current events.
Also, if students are the future leaders of the world, how can they expect not to repeat the mistakes of past leaders if they are unaware of what mistakes were made.
Today, when we face nuclear annihilation, it is absurd to be unaware of interactions with the Soviet Union. Instead of being concerned with a possible happening on a student's favorite soap opera, students should be concerned with a possible Reagan-Gorbachev summit. That could change the way we live.
There is simply no excuse for being ignorant of current events. BRAD PURSEL Laurel
I believe that it is very important to learn about current events. Our country is a democracy -- government for and by the people. It is in our own best interests to be knowledgable about politics, the economy, etc. Teenagers are not too young to be concerned. They are going out in this world and they should know how world events are affecting their lives and others.
Many teenagers are indifferent to politics, mainly because they also don't believe that they can have any real affect on politics until they become adults.
SUSAN GVOZDAS Elizabeth Seton
Ideally, the responsibility for educating students about current issues and relevant events lies on the shoulders of both the students and the schools. The students should watch the evening news, read the newspaper, and read magazines such as Time and Newsweek. Then the schools should help students understand current issues by holding classroom discussions where the students can voice their opinions.
However, most students are more interested in MTV than ABC World News. Students cannot be expected to teach themselves about current issues.
At the same time, the schools must realize that the history we are all witnessing today is just as important as the history in textbooks. In reality, the schools cannot neglect their responsibility to teach.
PAMELA LEADBETTER Eleanor Roosevelt
Every young person should know about the things that are happening around them every day. It helps you find answers to your problems at school, work and at home.
I don't think that the average ninth grader is aware of the things that are happening in the political and social fields. Upon seeing a newspaper, their first thought is that it is designed for their parents and grandparents to read. They don't realize that it is designed for them to read, also.
I don't think our schools should provide for our study of current events. I think we should, on our own, read newspapers, listen to the radio, or watch the television to find out what's going on in our government.
We would become smarter students if we knew what is going on around us. I challenge you to keep up on the news.
VIRGINIA SNAKENBERG Riverdale Baptist
It is incredibly important for today's youth to be aware of current events. It is the responsibility of every student to feel the need to be involved in the world. Every student should feel the need or the curiosity to look into the problems facing our generation. Because we will inherit all the problems, it is up to us to see the problems clearly and to find a quick and proper solution.
The schools are doing more than their shares when it comes to helping students to realize the need for an understanding of the events of today. Our schools require us to take courses that make us get involved with current issues. The classes help the student confront the problems we will face in the future.
The ultimate responsibility falls on the student to decide that there is a need to be aware of the events that shape our world. If a student fails to see the need for a knowledge of current events, then the blame for being ignorant should not fall on the already tired school system, but on the student.
DON BICE Bowie
We are the kids of the future. When the year 2000 comes, we will be trying to run this country. We need to know what's going on.
The schools don't take the time to teach relevant issues; they are too busy teaching us things that happened over a million years ago. We need to know what's going on in the world today.
I can honestly say that teenagers (at least most) don't watch the news. But I think it's important. How else will we know what's happening?
CHRISTINA ROBERTSON DuVal
If I were instructed to write about today's leading events, it wouldn't be spectacular. Presidential races, the economy and gulf wars are beyond me. I am oblivious to the world of currents events.
Current events should constitute part of our curriculum. The present is important. After all, the present foreshadows what is to come.
As a private school student, I feel that the effort made is minimal in this area. The topics are manipulated to provide a non-educational result. When students prepare oral reports on current events, they regard the assignment as a memorization of the text rather than a learning experience. Perhaps the solution is a specific class dealing with current events and without the use of textbooks.
The responsibility lies with the students as well as with the school. Reading the newspaper is an excellent start and a good habit for the future.
GENEVIEVE COURBOIS Queen Anne
"Speak Out" Topic for November 19:
Pregnancy among America's teenagers is now recognized as a nation-wide problem. What steps should be taken to solve the problem of teenage pregnancy?
Responses should be no more than 150 words in length and typed or written legibly. Political-style cartoons on the topic are welcome and should be drawn on posterboard. All submissions should include the student's name, school and grade.
Responses should be addressed to: Weekly High School Section The Washington Post 1150 15th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20071
Deadline for responses is Monday, November 9. Editor's Note
The High School Honors page is a regular feature of the Maryland Weekly section recognizing the achievements of Prince George's County public and private high school students.
Information for these pages was compiled by Leonard Hall and Sonsyrea Tate of The Washington Post with the assistance of school officials.
For questions or comments about this feature, or to have information concerning your school included here, call John Butler or Leonard Hall, 334-5369, Lexie Verdon, 334-7313, or Ron Shaffer, 334-6154, or write c/o The Washington Post.