Sunday, 19 June 2016

Why Politics should be on the national curriculum

Politics can be a difficult topic to understand at the best of times. Being able to cut through the jargon, waffle, and spin, that makes up is everyday politics (especially during campaigns), is a skill that takes practise, knowledge, and lots of time. It is because of this inaccessibility to political understanding; many choose not to participate in politics.

In recent times, general election turnout in the UK hasn’t been higher than 66%. This figure can be partly explained by people feeling unrepresented by the current choice of parties and people having no faith in the political system. I think the largest proportion of people who abstain simply don’t feel politically educated enough thus are disinterested. This is a problem which can be addressed very simply.

Introducing politics to the national curriculum in secondary schools and teaching pupils the basics of government, sovereignty, and their rights would be extremely valuable to many. And teaching political processes such the legislative process and how to register to vote can only have a positive effect on society.

Politics in the national curriculum would make lengthy, complex campaigns seem more straight forward and encouraging young people to get their voices heard would make politics more diverse and less white, male, and stale.

However, there might be some drawbacks to politics lessons. For one, there is no guarantee that the teaching would be neutral. Everyone is entitled to their opinions however being introduced to politics in a completely neutral way is important in order to be able to recognise why people have fundamentally different ideologies. Additionally, how would the subject be taught? Putting an exam at the end of the course might be counterproductive and make even more people resent politics. But if there isn’t an exam, teachers and students might not take the subject seriously. Finally, would it be wise to encourage kids to share their philosophies (bearing in mind they will vary from far-left to far-right) in an environment that is so prone to bullying.

Overall, something needs to be done to dramatically increase turnout and participation. Getting people interested and engaged with politics at an early age might by the catalyst for that to happen.