School classes on how to change the world

We need to help politics be relevant and accessible to all ages. A basic understanding of our political system is the first block in building this. If we start by introducing this an early age, it’s importance will be more embedded.

Change ‘Citizenship’ lessons to ‘How to Change the World’ classes. Educate about structural politics through problem solving. This would be an interesting challenge and would encourage young people to navigate their way through councils, Parliament or the European Parliament.

Use an issue which young people are more likely to connect with and be passionate about, the environment, animal rights, poverty, homelessness, women’s rights. They can find an injustice within the issue and then work out how they would solve that issue. It would take them through various organisations – charities or councils, the law or campaign group and of course alternative political tools.

It could just give young people a window into how politics can make a real difference and we might learn a few lessons along the way too.

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  • Sue Fewster
    commented 2016-07-30 21:11:27 +0100
    Good idea as part of a politics curriculum. But I think politics should be taught as a core subject: citizenship classes are not taken as seriously as I believe they should be, or as Blunkett intended when he established them. Politics is taught from year 7 as a subject in most private schools – why not in state schools? Because they do not culminate in a GCSE or add anything to the school league tables. Only when it is made a core subject that everyone must achieve a recognised qualification in – will this change.
  • Jack Weatherilt
    tagged this with love 2016-05-03 22:04:49 +0100
  • Diane Edmonds
    commented 2016-04-05 16:00:43 +0100
    I think it will help if young people are encouraged to debate issues so teams could be formed to represent ‘for’ and ‘against’ motions then each group member could take on roles within their team in order to learn useful transferable skills, these might be different forms of research, for example online or books amongst others (secondary sources) or through personal interviews of experts or surveys, amongst others (primary research). Others members could formulate how findings would be presented, for example in a short video or a power point presentation and then there could be others who are presenters to deliver findings. Group meetings and team work would also be assessed and these roles could be changed with different topics so that all had a chance at each role. A file of collected data could be kept and a reflection of how their role worked for them and what skills they had developed. Over time students would discover the processes of how things, whether political, media based or business oriented actually work. It would also be very practical in nature allowing real engagement with topics that are meaningful to students. A team of fellow class-mates could then vote regarding which motion would be carried and give reasons why.
  • Diane Edmonds
    tagged this with like 2016-04-05 16:00:41 +0100
  • Ben Evardson
    commented 2016-04-05 13:23:57 +0100
    Great fresh idea. Giving children an opportunity to think for themselves and critically rather than being sponges to media and other outlets.
  • Ben Evardson
    tagged this with love 2016-04-05 13:23:55 +0100
  • Christina Emmett
    commented 2016-04-05 12:12:37 +0100
    While I agree with Verity in that public debate often puts too much burden on what it feels schools should be doing (pretty much everything) I think encouraging school-aged children to engage with political process should absolutely be worked into the school agenda. On the History curriculum the suffragette movement is included, and rightly so (though I believe this government has tried to scrap it – wonder why). Across the curriculum children are learning about how the world has worked in the past, how it works now and to prepare for their roles within it through career choice and citizenship. It therefore makes sense that they should understand how the country is governed and how change can be affected – either through government or the increased use of activism to exercise their democratic voice by encouraging them to explore what fires them up. I think Melanie is absolutely right in wanting young people to be more engaged – after all, it can only have a positive impact on election turnout for young voters and indeed the standard of future debate around issues that matter.
  • Christina Emmett
    tagged this with like 2016-04-05 12:12:35 +0100
  • Verity Lewes
    commented 2016-04-01 10:31:55 +0100
    It has become an almost too easy option for people to suggest schools should do this or do that. This is a get out for the responsibilities for civil society. Yesterday (radio4), it was suggested that map reading ought to be taught in schools. I reject the notion that schools should be doing anything that government suggests at all. The political process is important for children but government has brought few advantages to the school, curricula. The School and interested and connected adults should make these decisions. Those who care about political matters need to find ways to encourage and activate civil society and not look to convey – belt solutions.
  • Verity Lewes
    tagged this with dislike 2016-04-01 10:31:55 +0100