International Policy Digest

Sponsored Content /19 Sep 2018

What is the Relationship between Education and Political Ideas?

A recurring theme in the debates about “political education” is the effect that schools or other educational institutions have on influencing the political involvement of students. One of the theoretical objectives of education is to achieve politically active individuals. Now, to what extent are education and political ideas related? And what is the nature of that relationship?

We focus on the effects that formal education has on political life. Obviously, education covers much more than what happens in purely academic life, but this is a great factor to consider. In this sense, the “political effects” that we are going to take into account in this article are: political implication, political attitude and political knowledge.

External variables that affect education and political ideas

At the statistical level, when we talk about modulating variables, external or third variables, we refer to the external factor that causes a correlation between two variables. For example, the number of hospitals and prisons in a city correlate, those cities that have more hospitals have more prisons. This is due to a third variable that affects both: the population.

In the case of education and political ideas, there are external factors that affect these two variables explaining part of their correlation. Among these factors, the most relevant are: cognitive abilities, personality and socio-economic level. In the case of cognitive abilities, the relationship is quite obvious. A higher verbal capacity, an abstract reasoning, a good memory, together with other capacities, help to progress both in formal education and in political capacity. Regarding personality, it is important to understand that certain attitudes can affect education and political ideas. For example, all those predispositions to learn, browse or research will go in favor of greater academic achievement and greater notions of policy. The searching for a cheap essay writing service, for example, is also affected by the current attitudes of most students.

Another key aspect is the socio-economic level, since political life and higher formal education are socially restricted domains. Many people can’t study for a career because they do not have the necessary resources to do so. In the same way, those with a low socio-economic status do not usually spend time in political life; either because they are expelled from it directly or because they spend most of their time trying to survive in precarious working conditions.

Direct variables in education that affect political ideas within the great variability that exist within formal education and we find that different ways of organizing such as education causes differences in what we have called political capacity. This shows us that both variables have a direct relationship between them. But what specific aspects affect this relationship? The most relevant are: the contents of the curriculum and the educational values.

The contents of the curriculum can have a direct influence on the political knowledge acquired by students. For obvious reasons, the direct instruction of political concepts generates future citizens with a greater capacity for political analysis. In addition, the nature of these contents greatly affects the student’s political position. That is to say, a political education that highlights the advantages of liberalism will probably generate people more related to this current. Education in values based on dialogue, debate and a critical vision of the facts is essential to generate a political attitude in the students. If individuals receive a closed and hierarchical education, they become accustomed to the dogmas and authority that do not support a critical attitude towards politics.

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