Hi, so I originally wrote this to send to the BBC’s “young reporters competition”. Now if technology lets me, I still will do. At the very last minute I expect, as that’s what tends to happen, when I face anything technological. Anyway here it is…….
Do you find it shocking that a survey, carried out by the ONS in 2014, found that 42.5% of 16-24 year olds stated that they had no interest in politics? Compared to just 21% for over 65s. You might well be thinking this is because we are just choosing not to take interest. However I would strongly disagree. Considering that there’s been a general trend over many years, showing a smaller proportion of the younger generation have voted in events such as general elections compared to the older generations, there must be a reason why. Now I feel the lack of factual, unbias information readily available to us plays a huge role in this; leaving us afloat to slowly gain a reasonable understanding over many years. Therefore I feel that any 16-18 year old student or apprentice should be provided with a curriculum which gives us a basic understanding of the political system as well as an insight into our ever changing political climate. This wouldn’t be an examined subject, but instead a few hours per school year.
To begin with, it goes without saying that if we were educated, we would be transferring a much more informed and educated response onto our ballet papers. Which would also correspond with our personal views a lot more. As well, people who would otherwise choose not to vote, would be much more likely to show up and would likewise give an educated response. Therefore this would not only raise our political awareness, but it would reduce the gap between the proportion of younger and older voters. Now concerningly this gap may have influenced results in previous general elections and referendums, which would have been unfair to our own as well as previous younger generations. Most recently however, take the B word “Brexit”. A much larger percentage of the younger voters chose to stay in, in comparison to older voters who voted the same way. Nonetheless there was a much lower turnout of younger voters. Now is it really fair to us that results of this and potentially future referendums will be influenced this way? Really the only way forward is to educate us so that we are more aware of the potential consequences or benefits of decisions that we have been given the right to make. Thinking in about in the distant future, all electrodes would have been taught basic political knowledge. Just consider where this may take our country in the future.
Furthermore our generation are being bombarded with bias, inaccurate and even false information. And the amount of this we face is only going to get higher. The average person now aged 16-24 spends shocking 34.3 hours on the internet a week. This way we are inevitably going to come across a huge number of online articles and videos which could therefore potentially influence our views in a superficial way. As well we are much more subject to views held by certain “celebrities”. Just by aimlessly scrolling through our twitter feed we are becoming more and more informed on the views of people like Russel Brand. Instead of alternatively gaining an understanding of the topics he may hold these views on. Moreover what I’m most concerned with is the rise of “fake news”. Due to the rise of the internet, it has become easier and easier to publish false information, which many people would just assume was true. Unlike in a mainstream tangible newspaper: where if anything false about a person was published, they could be sued, the internet is much harder to control. Therefore a lot of false articles go unnoticed, nevertheless make us believe these stories which may lead us onto developing bias views towards certain topics or groups of people. Now on the country, you may argue that a teacher would be more likely to preach their personal views to the class, rather than teach us from a neutral perspective. However as an A level politics student, I found that both my teachers are excellent at delivering the subject to us in an informative and neutral manner. I’m also aware that in a classroom environment it would be likely for there to be a range of views held by some people. Nevertheless being exposed to this wide range, we will have the opportunity to consider these different perspectives and finally develop more balanced educated opinions.
Finally just consider how relevant politics is to us today! What with our forever changing political climate that our country and the world is in, as well as the smaller things which may not be covered on the news as much. These will effect everyone on a day to day basis. For instance just think of how much things could change for Great Britain and Europe if we end up leaving the EU. Surly as a citizen of any country, it’s essential to have some basic knowledge on how their country is as a nation and how this may be changing! We also need to know what decisions the parties that we choose to vote for would be making on our behalf. Whether this is to cut tuition fees to give students from normal working families a better chance of going to university, to increase pensions so that elderly people experience a more comfortable retirement in which they deserve or a higher amount of spending on mental health services. It is only fair that we know how the decisions we make may affect us, our parents and our grandparents. However it’s not only economic decisions that are effected by politics. Politics dominates issues that our planet as whole if facing; from issues including feminism, the threat of terrorism and of course the climate change crisis! Now a huge number of people, if not everyone is affected by these issues and there are in fact many young people out there who do take a very strong interest! Just look at the accomplishments of people like 16 year old Greta Thunberg who has inspired over 6 million people, mainly school and collage students, to partake in peaceful climate change protests in order to raise awareness. Perhaps as we are the generation to currently be effected the most. Now heavily implies that we are only more than eager to get involved in global issues. Therefore if we were all educated then we would all be wanting to get involved in other political areas as well.
To conclude: I hope that from this you can see why I think that a basic education for older students should be essential. Votes would be more informed, so results in the future would reflect our opinions more. It would also lead to a significant increase in voter turnout of the youngest age group meaning a closed gap between the proportion of younger and older voters, as well as a significant rise in votes, enabling our democratic system to flourish. Finally we can’t forget how important politics really is to everyone and how it effects us even if we don’t necessarily realise. Therefore you should be able to see why providing us with political education for just a couple hours a year, would certainly not be a waste of our time or our country’s resources.
Wow, I feel like I have just written some persuasive writing essay for GCSE English, or some low standard A level essay for god knows what subject here. Anyway, its not exactly top notch standard, but I do genuinely hope you can see why I think everyone should be taught politics.
Seriously though. Half the people who do end up voting at elections, probably have no real idea or understanding themselves, having just been fed on if any, then bias information. Seriously though, it wouldn’t kill.
I have also noticed this and my last entry have been extremely school related. SO SO sorry. I promise that my next entry won’t be. Hopefully it will be a little more exciting haha.