Lying, cheating, corruption, sleaze, scandal, dirty. All words that are associated with politics in the modern day. Politicians are wrapped up in a world where they are all tarnished with the same brush due to the dishonest actions of a small minority of the population. Society looks at politics and turns its head in shame.
Politics is a dirty word in Britain and most of the general public are scared of a word that affects every part of their life. Why such a fear? It grows from the fact that such a vast proportion of the population does not understand the system that rules over it. The public fears what they do not understand and they fear the corruption that is presented to them in the media. These two things mean that people take the media at face value and do not question the news corporations when they make out that all politicians are at fault for expenses, and that they claimed well over the top.
This issue has come up in society already. Power 2010 recently ran a campaign to vote on the top five of 25 ideas to put to the next government. Among the twenty-five ideas was one that I myself voted for, and believe would address a huge amount of the issues that we see in today’s society around politics.
The idea is one I have argued for a long time and needs to be introduced. They called for compulsory politics lessons to be brought in into the curriculum in secondary school to educate children about the political system, the voting system and about politics in general. This would raise the awareness of politics in society and allow children to make an educated decision about whether to vote, be involved or become a major part of politics from an early age of life.
Although we already have Citizenship or PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) classes, they are too broad and are a poor attempt to teach children values that are important in life. The lessons of sex, CV writing and other valuable life skills are brushed over each week and when the focus is politics most students turn off and ignore the lessons that it tries to teach. It is rarely taken seriously by the teachers and management in school and so the quality of the teaching is rarely satisfactory. Schools just treat it is as the bad smell in the corner, often purely putting any teacher who is free to teach it and the students see it as a “doss” hour.
The need for a separate lesson to educate youth in politics is vital. They have to be engaging and fun. Politics has to be turned from a “dirty” word to one that people do not fear using in everyday society and one that people do not run a mile from every time they hear it mentioned.
Compulsory lessons would allow children to make better informed decisions. It will help to re-engage a large proportion of the population with the political world when they fully understand the way the government operates , the way the political voting system works and the party politics that is so prominent in our country. I do accept that this is not the entire problem. Although lack of education is a major issue, there are also issues of discontent with the political system and a general apathy towards politics that comes from fears that whatever you do, the government is always the same. However I think that through a better and stronger education system this could be changed and at least those who choose not to vote can do it out of an educated response that has been facilitated by the education system.
In my eyes, if you educate children about voting, the system and politics in Britain from an unbiased perspective and give them the chance to make a decision, then they will be able to make an informed judgement on British politics and their actions will reflect this. Politics affects everything in life and without a basic grasp of how it works on a ground level society will struggle to understand the more complex issues and make better judgement. As Aristotle argues “Teaching is the highest form of understanding” and if people understood politics then involvement in the political world would massively increase, changing things for the better.