Small Ways To Work On Becoming More Politically Educated

Let’s face it, politics can be scary.  Learning can be intimidating.  Acknowledging you’re wrong or don’t understand something can be nerve wracking.  Growing up in a small town, I was surrounded by mostly one type of person with one type of mindset and one set of beliefs.  I came to college and VERY quickly realized that I realistically knew very little and understood next to nothing.  At the time, I felt insecure and as though I would never catch up.  Over the past couple years, I have really come to the realization that it is okay to not know everything, and it’s okay to acknowledge that.  It’s about what you do about it that really matters.  You can learn, you can understand and you can participate.  As cliché as it may sound, the quote “it’s about the journey not the destination” really does ring true.  Throughout the past couple years of college, and especially within the past year, I have really become passionate about continuously educating myself through a variety of resources.  After taking the time to learn, I feel so much stronger about my understanding and political beliefs.  But, I also acknowledge the fact that I have a long way to go, and there are some things that I will never fully understand because I haven’t had the same experiences as others.  It is crucial that we educate ourselves and use that knowledge to act politically in order to work towards what is right and equitable.  With all this in mind, I hope that through this article I can give you a couple ways to start your journey towards becoming more politically educated and socially conscious!

  1. 1. Plain old research

    women with mug and laptop

    This may not necessarily be the most fun or exciting option, but it is truly one of the most effective.  Use the resources around us whether that be a newspaper, a news station on tv, magazines, the internet, books, or whatever else you have access to.  Research is a critical part of growing politically because it allows you to understand politics from a holistic standpoint by working to understand the historical context and modern day implications of a variety of topics.  This can be time consuming and overwhelming, but at the end of the day, it really does go a long way.

  2. 2. Social Media

    phone screen with social media apps

    Let’s face it, most of us use social media on a daily and even hourly basis.  Many of us have access to an unending amount of information at the tips of our fingers.  If you can go on Twitter, or Instagram or YouTube multiple times a day to look at memes, you can take some of that time to learn.  Whether it be accounts that focus on politics and society, or accounts run by diverse voices, using social media to learn is a great thing.  Social media grants us access to such a wide range of voices and can really help us to become a more worldly citizen.  It is also a great way to uplift the voices and stories of others.

  3. 3. Books

    girl reading on train

    Similar to plain old research, this might not be the most popular means of educating ourselves.  Reading takes a lot of time and mental focus that a lot of us, especially full time students and workers, don’t have a lot of.  Between school, work, clubs and social lives, it feels like there is no way to take time to sit down and read a book.  But, even just 10 or 15 minutes a couple days a week or listening to an audiobook on your way to class can make all the difference.  As a self proclaimed book nerd, this has been a way that is enjoyable to me, but also SUPER transformative and educational.  I have really been able to expand my reading and knowledge by reading books from super diverse authors and focusing on educating myself through a hobby I enjoy.  There are so many different books and written resources around us that can truly make a huge change.

  4. 4. Podcasts/Watching The News

    silver iphone 6 on brown wooden table with news feed on screen

    If you really don’t have time to read books, or you don’t like social media, listening to podcasts or watching the news regularly can be a great alternative.  This is a much simpler and more functional way to educate yourself on a daily basis.  You can throw on the news while you are getting ready in the morning or just listen to a podcast while you’re walking to class.  A lot of people find learning audibly and/or visually to be super effective and this option can fulfill either of those.  Not to mention, it doesn’t take away time you need for other tasks in your day because you can do it while doing other things!

  5. 5. Start Conversations and Ask Questions

    5 people having a business meeting

    In college, and life in general, a super simple way to learn is to just talk to people.  Start conversations with the people around you, ask questions, ask for advice, actively seek out information from a variety of people.  People want to help, people want to learn and people want to teach.  Whether you talk to family, friends, classmates, professors, student leaders, co-workers or even advisors, just have these conversations.  They might be intimidating or uncomfortable at times, but it is in times of discomfort that we truly experience change.

  6. 6. Take Classes or Join Student Organizations

    Similar to the last tip, this one also revolves around people.  If you’re on a college campus, you really are surrounded by so much opportunity.  Take classes that revolve around the topic you want to learn more about or a topic you don’t know much about, go to guest speakers or events on campus, research student organizations and join them, attend round table talks.  Surrounding yourself with knowledge and people who propel diverse political knowledge can be a super successful and impactful way to learn and grow.

Like I said at the beginning of this article, learning and working to understand politics can be intimidating and overwhelming, but at the end of the day it’s something you need to do.  If you have the access to information and the ability to participate politically, do it.  If you don’t understand something, ask about it.  If you have privilege, use it to create a space for those who don’t share that privilege and make sure to prioritize the amplification of their voices.  It is our generation that will bring change, and it is up to us to work towards making the best change possible.