If you or your students aren’t political nerds like I am, you might not be immediately drawn to Edward Keenan’s new book, The Art of the Possible: An Everyday Guide to Politics. For some of us, the idea of reading a book about politics sounds about as interesting as watching grass grow, but this is not a tedious tome.
Keenan begins by telling us that we are all politicians and that we have a duty, as citizens, to be active and informed, because our country, and the world, need us. He explains some of the different types of governments, both historical and contemporary, and how they function on the surface and behind the scenes. Keenan relates big political concepts to ideas that we, in schools, are all familiar with, like how, when we work together, we can achieve great things. He also breaks down and explains the origins of political concepts like “left-wing” and “right-wing”.
This book would be an excellent tool for teachers who are looking for ways to introduce political concepts to their students, and discuss politics in a non-partisan way. The content connects most obviously with Grade 4 and 5 social studies and Grade 8 history, but could be meaningfully incorporated into a wide variety of character development and critical thinking lessons.
Keenan uses examples from around the world but focuses on the Canadian and American political systems. This is a useful lens. Because of the influence of the media, our students are often more familiar with the American political system than they are with our own and we find ourselves explaining Canadian politics in relation to American politics. The Art of the Possible makes this easier.
I have given this book four stars. It would have been five except it is text heavy without the benefit of black-line-masters.
If you don’t consider yourself a politician, you will by the end of this book, and, if you’re lucky, you might become a political nerd like me.
Mandi Hardy is a member of the Peel Teacher Local.