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Young people not being interested in politics.

(15 Posts)
yggdrasil Wed 13-Jul-16 10:14:35

From a comment made in a different thread, about the disaffection of youth with politics today.

When I was at school , we had a compulsory subject called Civics. We were shown how politics worked, and the role of parliament and councils, and had speakers from the police and fire brigades and other civic organisations. No party stuff, (well not directly, there were only Conservatives where I lived).
Now these subjects are as far as I can see not even allowed in schools, even if the timetable will allow. So young people don't have any idea why they should be interested. Give them a reason, and they are as keen as we were all that time ago.

annodomini Wed 13-Jul-16 11:13:48

When I was a member of the local council, I and colleagues from other parties were invited along to meet Y11 students at one High School. The Tory failed to turn up... The youngsters were totally ignorant about politics, even to not knowing the difference between Councillors and MPs. I suspect that their parents were no more knowledgeable. The two of us put them right on as much as we could in the time available, but yes - there is a case for education about politics and political structures. I grew up in a home where politics was discussed, as did my children (and their partners too). The GC are growing up politically aware - especially my GDs, for some reason!

daphnedill Wed 13-Jul-16 11:33:10

Citizenship was a compulsory element of the National Curriculum until a few years ago, when it was abolished by Michael Gove. To be honest, it wasn't taught very well and had to cover a very wide range of topics.

I wasn't taught anything about government at school until the Sixth Form, when we were taught about current affairs as part of General Studies A level.

Devorgilla Wed 13-Jul-16 11:50:32

I think it also depends where you live. People in the North of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are much more politically aware from a much younger age and know exactly how to work their systems to get their candidate in. I am amazed at how few posters for elections or indeed the referendum there were in the area I now live in. We were the first to put ours up and I suspect it was a gesture much disapproved of - 'bringing down the tone of the neighbourhood, don't you know'.
In Ireland, both parts, the streets are awash with them. Every available space is covered. If we move to PR our electorate will have to learn PDQ.

Alima Wed 13-Jul-16 11:53:05

We grew up with news and current affairs programmes on the TV and M and D would talk about politics. Must have made an impact as I remember when I got a transistor radio of my own I would listen to Jack de Manio on the Today prog. Never been a real political animal but do like to know what is happening in the world. Have very vague memories of Civics lessons at school. One of my DDs is very interested in politics, the other not particularly bothered. Heaven knows how to get today's young people involved, so many of them seemed glued to social media. You cannot force them, they need to want to get involved.

Anniebach Wed 13-Jul-16 11:55:30

I was brought up in a politically active family and my interests started at a young age.

SueDonim Wed 13-Jul-16 12:42:20

There was no education on politics when I was at grammar school in the 60's. However, my mother and grandfather were always very interested so I grew up hearing about politics in the house.

At my daughter's last school, they have visits from MP's/MSP's, a debating society and they hold mock elections at times of high politic interest.

Tbh, I'm not sure how anyone can avoid politics nowadays - it's everywhere!

Welshwife Wed 13-Jul-16 12:58:35

I was taught quite a lot about how the country was run during history lessons at Grammar school in the mid fifties. For O Level we studied English and European history from 1832-1914 - causes of the First World War --- a very interesting time in our history and it also laid the foundations of how the country is run today. Doing the European bit we were taught about how the European border constantly changed etc. gave me a good grounding. Plus like Annie my parents became politically active after the war and we always had people popping in and discussing what was going on in the world.
It is a great lacking in the education of our children and young people that they do not get to learn about these things. Even in the nineties my stepson was learning about WW2 and the teacher was so passionate about history that StS wanted to visit Auchwitz for his holiday.
Glad to say that DGS (now 25) and his friends do know quite a lot about how the country and Europe work and all voted in the referendum.

daphnedill Wed 13-Jul-16 13:02:12

Social media is a huge problem regarding political awareness. The messages are simplistic and short, but pervasive. Savvy campaigners know that, which is why we have short soundbites and battle cries. If you read something often enough, you believe it.

I'm not sure that young people are less politically aware than their parents, judging by some of the rubbish I see spouted by 'some' adults, although it would be hoped that people learn more as they get older.

My son is very politically aware; my daughter less so, although she throws herself into good causes and helped her (then) boyfriend with canvassing during the last general election.

daphnedill Wed 13-Jul-16 13:08:46


School pupils DO still learn about the causes of WW1 and the rise of Nazism, etc. My son, who is awaiting his history A level results, also studied the Arab-Israeli conflict and Mao Tse-tung.

What is lacking is an understanding of the way British and EU political systems work in practice. Judging from the letters pages in my local press, an awful lot of adults don't understand much either.

Anya Wed 13-Jul-16 13:18:55

Yes, we had quite a good grounding in politics at my grammar school in the 60s. In fact I was one of two pupils who were sponsored to attend a Conference on World Citizenship in London.

Not sure about the wisdom of two 17 year olds loose in London for four days and three nights, but we certainly enjoyed seeing in the New Year (1965 I think) at Trafalgar Square with all the other revellers.

Welshwife Wed 13-Jul-16 13:19:59

dd I think that because I also learned about the parliament and how it developed at the end of the 19C it maybe was more interesting and had more relevance as to the workings of parliament today. My formal history at school stopped at 1914 so we did not do any of the Nazis etc.

grannyactivist Wed 13-Jul-16 13:25:21

I taught PSHE and Citizenship in a school that believed the subject to be hugely important. Pupils visited the House of Commons and met their MP, had a good understanding of local and national government and of how budgets and laws enacted by Parliament have a direct impact on them individually. I think I did a pretty good job of getting

Locally the schools have mock elections, visits from town, district and county Councillors and of course the school has its own council that pupils are elected on to.

My own children always vote and are very politically aware, although not activists - yet! grin My nephew is studying Politics and International Relations at university and is extremely political, unfortunately his maternal grandparents are of a different political persuasion and as a consequence their relationship only works if they steer clear of the the subject.

daphnedill Wed 13-Jul-16 13:38:02

Good to hear about a school where citizenship was taken seriously. My experience was that it was patchy. I worked in one school where it was taken seriously and others where it was shoe-horned into PSHE alongside sex ed and drugs, etc.

My children have at various times had visits from our MP, MEPs and have visited the HoP. I'm not aware that they ever learnt about systems of government or how budgets work.

My son has just finished history and economics A levels, so has learnt about budgets and markets, etc from macro-economics.

@ww I did history A level at school. I learnt something about politics from doing the 1830s Reform Acts and Corn Laws, etc. I also did 1906-1914 British history. My school history finished with the Cuba Crisis.

The problem with history as a school subject is that the majority don't take it beyond Year 8 or 9, so don't get to modern history.

granjura Wed 13-Jul-16 17:28:16

The A'Level current system is indeed far too narrow - quite tragic that students aged 16 get such a narrow education- for most without history, and other basic subjects, like a foreign language and more in depth study of English, etc.