Edited by John Ishiyama, William J. Miller and Eszter Simon
Chapter 14: After the apocalypse: a simulation for Introduction to Politics classes
Several years ago a student who had previously been enrolled in one of the authors’ introductory classes asked for a letter of recommendation to law school. This was a good but unremarkable student. He came to class, but he did not appear to take notes. He participated minimally, and he earned a low B for the semester. When the student provided a draft of his statement of purpose and an unofficial transcript, the instructor was pleasantly surprised to learn that this student had an excellent academic record and a real passion for speech and hearing sciences. His performance in class did not reflect his overall level of achievement and potential; political science just was not his thing. This is the challenge of teaching introductory courses, but it is especially important for political science courses. The students are not necessarily there because of a burning desire to learn about political culture and the importance of institutional rules (like we surely were when we were undergraduates). Rather, they are likely registered in order to fulfill a general education or social sciences requirement. As political scientists we may love the study of politics, and our majors may be deeply engaged, but Introduction to Politics students are just as likely disgruntled music, math or philosophy majors, successful and bright in their chosen field, but not the least bit interested in politics.
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