Amidst the getting-ready-for-the-day mayhem this morning I stumbled across Chalk (the 8 year old, remember I gave them pseudonyms? No? Well, just go with it) filming the telly screen with a phone. (Yes, the telly’s on in the morning so I’m a terrible mother and yes I also think 8 is too young for a phone.) He sensed me pausing with a pile of cereal smeared bowls in one arm and a pair of dead joggers in the other (how do they destroy so many clothes?!) and explained. Newsround were doing a piece on this week’s General Election. He wanted to film it to watch later in case he forgets anything. Obviously.
He’s not learnt it all from Newsround (although I do think it’s an excellent programme and I’m glad it’s still going). We’ve spoken about it and he knows why it’s important to vote, that we pick an MP and they represent us in Parliament. He knows that the parties aren’t parties as he knows them. He’s seen the poster his Dad blue tacked in our window. On Thursday morning the three kids will come with me to our local community centre while I vote. I could go at any time in the day but it’s been a great way to start a chat about democracy, suffrage, how our political system works, why I choose to vote the way I do. A bit deeper than our usual school walk conversations. This morning Cheese asked why robbers wear masks when they work at night and why there are holes in the washing machine.
We’ve had a lot of elections in the past couple of years so we’ve had lots of chats and I think some of it might be sinking in. That said, there’s been a lot to take in! The European Union, Welsh Government, Local Councils.
Jamie Roberts (the Welsh rugby one) tweeted yesterday “Politics. Not taught compulsorily at school, yet ‘younger people’ are encouraged to go out and vote to help decide the future..Madness”. It’s hard to be clear in 140 characters (I struggle in a long-winded blog post) and some twits thought he meant young people shouldn’t vote. Not so. the point was that politics should be taught in all schools.
A better understanding of how our political systems work is so important. One of the replies Jamie had was from a Matt Clarke (I don’t know him) “Keep politics away from school. Education is dominated by the left.” The kind of politics our children and young people should be taught isn’t about which party is the best but why we vote, how a government works, what parliament is.
It reminded me why I’ve tried keeping my political opinions to myself on social media this time around. It makes no difference, I’m preaching to the converted. It’s far more powerful to teach my children about the voice they have, to make sure they know the name of our MP, our Prime Minister and the political parties. Judging by most of what I’ve read on twitter and facebook makes me think that most grown-ups could benefit from watching Newsround explain the basics.
So here you go, a handy link to Newsround: BBC Newsround. You’re welcome.