Politics: how deep do we need to get?

Yesterday Tony Breslin and I were called to give evidence to the Speaker’s Conference. We were asked specifically about young people’s engagement in politics and what role if any, that citizenship education could play in getting young people interested in politics and choosing politics as a future career.

It was my first experience giving evidence to the House of Commons and I was pleasantly impressed by the collaborative nature of the questions from a cross-party committee. The nature of questioning meant that we were really able to examine some of the wider issues that concern young people’s political engagement particularly how we position engagement opportunities to young people.

it was rather bizarre that a group of politics geeks (including me), were trying to come up with a solution to young people’s lack of interest in traditional political process and the question that I was left with was “how do we engage young people in politics?” This was a particularly shocking question for me as I run a political literacy project, called Youth Act, here at the Foundation, so I should really know the answer to that question! When I got back to the office I had an epiphany caused by this video… In My Name

In essence this video shows that you can pull people into a discussion on poverty through a fairly shallow tool – a catchy video with some celebrities. Watching this video made me realise that political literacy is a journey and we have to ensure that there are enough options for young people from campaigning projects like Youth Act to UKYP and also Facebook protests. We need to sew up a ‘patchwork quilt’ of political engagement projects & resources so that young people can find a space that works for them that will lead them through the political system that makes decisions that affects their lives.

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

4 thoughts on “Politics: how deep do we need to get?

  1. How to engage young people in politics is a key question for many people working in that field. I guess for me, whilst there is a huge range of amazing projects which increase young people understanding of informal politics (such as teachuing them to recognise how to make change happen in their communities etc) , how can we engage them with more traditional and formal processes such as voting in general elections, connecting with their MP’s etc.

    It seems to me that it is there which there is a gap, and one which needs to be narrowed so young people can truly idenitfy with their roles both in society and in politics.

  2. Pingback: Citizenship Foundation blog » Value-free activism?

  3. Hello, I have completed research towards FLT and qualifications specifically NOCN Level 1 Certificate in Enabling Skills Towards Progression for my DTTLS in a subject specialism in citizenship.

    The learning outcomes of the qualification at level 1 specifically require young people to describe how local and national government work; know how a person registers to vote, how people are elected both locally and nationally, name the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition and name their parties and list responsibilities of local and national government. I feel it is vital that young people today know about the government and how it works, some may not have had this type of knowledge passed from family and to enhance our society for the future it is important that we let them know about this.

    Within my organisation previously we have asked local councillors to visit and discuss the immediate and long term changes which are happening within our community and the impact it has on them. When a subject is local and effects young people they then engage and you can then open the wider picture of politics to them (without them knowing).

    I look forward to hearing some responses to this subject.

  4. Hi Evelyn,

    I think you are totally right about young people engaging in local issues and that engagement leading them on to a deeper and wider understanding of politics. I think there is an assumption in a democratic society that we will all work out how politics works but for us to get the best out of our structures, I think it is vital that all of us get the opportunity to learn skills and participate in experiences that deepen our understanding.

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