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View Diary: Why Don't People My Age Vote? (140 comments)

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  •  A parallel to consider (0+ / 0-)

    I'd like to draw a parallel between this issue:

    "To sum it all up, the education system failed me and my peers in trying to get us interested in subjects that matter. It seemed as though our showing up to class, as required by law, somehow guaranteed that we would care. It didn't. And as a result, another generation of young voters probably won't wake up to vote regularly for quite some time."

    . . . And the discussion of learning how to read in this excellent series of diaries.  

    "The focus on the reader instead of the material being read may be jarring at first to high school students (and, indeed, their parents as well). There were two things I used to tell students at one point or another, when the inevitable complaints cited above began to emerge, the last two in particular:

    It is not the book's job to interest you.

    It is not the book's job to be understood by you.

    Needless to say, a lot of kids and parents didn't want to hear this. For many of them, the text had always been the key element, the determining factor. If I don't like this book, or I can't understand it, or I don't find it interesting, that means there must be something wrong with the book; it has nothing whatsoever to do with me. It relieves the reader not only of any responsibility for his own reading skill, but indeed of any role whatsoever in the reading experience. This is not to say that there is something "wrong" with a person who doesn't like, can't understand, or takes no interest in a particular text, and this is not about "fault" or "blame." But a person can never become a better reader if the onus is always on the text to provide comprehension, interest and meaning all on its own. The text is what it is; it's not going to change, and it can't do anything. The reader has to play a role and has to recognize what his role is. It's not the book's job to interest you; it's your job to take an interest in it. It's not the book's job to be understood by you; it's your job to understand it."

    Substitute the word "book" for the word "politics" and you'll see my point.

    It isn't politic's "job" to interest the citizen.  It's the citizen's job to recognize that the society he lives in, it's structure and function and purpose, is not some separate and immutable "thing" that he merely exists under and can safely ignore.    

    Unfortunately, many children escape their schools years functionally illiterate and never having made the jump from unskilled to skilled reader; how can they then make the jump from unskilled citizen to skilled citizen never having learned that such a cognitive jump is necessary and is something only they can accomplish?  

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