Tuesday, 4 March 2014

World Book Day: Young People and Politics...

I'd like you to select one of the two articles linked below ... and read it! We will leave at least 5 minutes to discuss your thoughts/responses/findings.
If you finish quickly and want to read more, further links appear at the end (including an option with a strong statistical/mathematical slant).

Click on one of the following articles, then read through it:
ARTICLE 1: "Young People's Boredom With Politics 'Should Not Be Confused With Apathy'" [Joseph Rowntree Foundation]
This article uses some complex language.
Click here if this is the article you'd prefer to read. Paragraphs are longer and language more challenging compared to the Mirror article below.

ARTICLE 2: "Russell Brand is wrong - young people HAVE to be engaged in politics" [Daily Mirror]
This article uses less challenging language.
Click here if this is the article you'd prefer to read; the language is less complex and the paragraphs shorter than the other article above, but it is still quite long! (If this page won't load, scroll to the bottom where I've copied in the text - its easier to read from the webpage though)


If you're a quick reader, you could try another article on the same theme...
This is from a broadsheet/quality newspaper, but is written by a young person. Click here to read.
This article is quite 'dry' in tone, and includes a lot of statistical analysis, which keen mathematicians may enjoy!

I'm not sure whether tabloid papers will be accessible through our web filter; so, just in case, here's the text from the Mirror article:
Russell Brand is a brilliant comedian and a great talent. Recently he made some very serious points about our political system.
Lots of them were spot on. I don’t think we have a democracy that works if only a third of the population voted at the last election.
But I didn’t agree when he said we have tried voting and it doesn’t work . I don’t think we have tried as a nation to vote in huge numbers.
When you think of what people went through to give us these freedoms it seems very easy to say we have tried it and it has failed.
If you look at it from the perspective of young people, only 44 per cent of them turned out to vote in 2010 compared to 76 per cent in the older demographic.
And that’s where Bite the Ballot comes in.
We have been working across the country to get young people engaged in politics.
Today sees the first National Voter Registration Day where we want to get thousands of young people to register to vote.
We looked to the success of the Rock the Vote campaign in the USA, which used celebrities such as Christina Aguilera to encourage people to register, and decided this was something Britain needed.
We have reached out to schools, youth clubs, universities and businesses.
Events are taking place all over the country with people joining in to help register more voters.
It’s amazing that with a little bit effort from a small team you can really instil the vision that voter registration is a rite of passage for all those aged 16 and above.
Coming up to the election in 2010, I was teaching business studies at the Wilmington Enterprise College in Dartford, Kent.
A colleague asked me if I was going to vote and I said no. I said the same thing I hear from young people now: ­politics doesn’t affect me.
But he made it real for me.
He started relating politics to things I have to deal with every day from road tax for my car to whether we go to war.
He said politics decides whether your favourite nightclub can have a late licence or if it can have a dance floor.
These were clear-cut examples of how politics affects everything in my life.
So I thought to myself, why don’t I know this stuff?
I wondered how I could go the whole way through school and three years at university and no one came round canvassing for votes or engaging me or my friends.
Did I not matter as much?
Young people have been labelled apathetic but they have never really been told how important politics is.
Between the staff and students at the school we formed Bite the Ballot.
We began looking at the reasons why people weren’t involved, why they were frustrated with the process, and we tried to turn them into opportunities.
One reason given was that people didn’t know how to go about voting and didn’t want to embarrassed at a polling station.
So we held a mock election in school.
We had three teams canvassing the school and on the day of the vote we set up a classroom exactly how it would be at a polling station for an authentic experience.
We taught 668 people how to vote in that one day and they all said: “Is that it? It’s so easy.”
Bite the Ballot is now nearly four years old and we are still growing and looking at new ways of getting the message out.
We have developed two learning games, called The Basics, which illustrate the powers we have and the choices we face as a country.
We are trying to get young people to engage in shaping the society they live in .
We have registered more than 15,000 people using these games and today is vitally important with the General Election next year.
The statistics are very telling – 96 per cent of over-65s are registered to vote compared with only 56 per cent of those aged 16 to 24.
Estimates suggest 3.8million people won’t be registered for the 2015 election and we are trying to get as many signed up as possible.
They deserve to be heard.
The Mirror’s search for a young person to be the Voice of a Generation is a brilliant way of engaging people in the political process.
It is a great opportunity for ­some­one to report on the issues from a young person’s perspective.
There will be some wonderful stories coming from the young person selected.
We have to get young people engaged in politics, to balance things out, keep it fresh, and we hope today will be an annual drive to get them registered.
We have created a no-nonsense registration form on our website that takes out the jargon and helps people understand what is being asked of them.
I respect Russell Brand for voicing his opinion. We need more of that.
It’s what Bite the Ballot is ­encouraging – it’s about getting more people to voice their opinion to truly reflect our country.
Need to get yourself on the register of voters? 

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