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The News and Learning

January 21, 2010
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If you don't know the answer to the question in the image above – "But just what does [proroguing] mean?" You are likely out-of-touch with Canadian political news. If you want to learn more about Canadian, or any other politics, just start paying attention. That may initially seem unattractive, but let me tell you a story.

In my mid-twenties I knew little about politics of any sort. But I had a boyfriend, later a husband, who paid close attention to all the news, including Canadian and American political news. When I was with him, I was subjected to radio, television, and even newspaper news, often several times a day. At first, it was boring. But a strange thing started happening. I found myself knowing more about the news. 

At one point early in my career, two older colleagues moved from talking about workplace gossip, which all three of us took part in, to talking about politics. I listened for a while and then I surprised myself by having something to say, and I said it. The three of us continued our discussion, and I enjoyed being part of a conversation with fellow workers whom I liked and respected. Later,one of them stopped me in the hall and told me he hadn't realized I was so knowledgeable and thanked me for my contribution to the conversation. I was thrilled, and it was good for my reputation where I worked, too.

So what does this have to do with learning? Well, I learned about politics without even trying. The thing about learning about politics is that at first you know nothing, so it's boring. But if you keep watching, listening, and reading, everything gets repeated with small changes, over and over again, and some of the stories start to sink in. Then one day, a piece of news gets reported and you'e surprised to notice that you have a question or opinion on it. Without doing anything except hanging around when the news was on, I found myself with a foundation of knowledge, and it became easy and interesting to keep up with the news.

So here's what I suggest if you don't know what proroguing parliament means:
  • Go to Google or some other search engine and see what you can find. 
  • Check the dates on articles or blog posts to see how recent they are. (Check the image above; you might be surprised.)
  • Find a site that appears to explain it – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legislative_session (or a better one).

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  • Even better than looking it up, find someone you know who knows politics and ask them.
  • Start going beyond the headlines and see what different political parties are saying, and try to find out the facts underneath what is being said and don't just fall for emotional one-liners.

Political news can be a great conversation-starter, but be discreet, politics can also be a conversation-stopper if you disagree.

I recommend you just hang around news sources for a little time each day, and see what happens ;->

Joan Vinall-Cox, PhD 
Social Media & Learning

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2010 3:53 pm

    Or you can watch Rick Mercer explaining the Canadian parliamentary system, as only he can do:

  2. January 21, 2010 4:43 pm

    Good point! Thanks Harold!

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