Politics has changed dramatically. Yet, many people still gain their political information from their parents, the media, or vote due to vague social customs. Unfortunately, political literacy is still very much absent from the curriculum in all but the top private schools.
This ensures politics remains the playground of the financially better off and while the sons and daughters of the higher echelons of society are educated in politics, the rest of us are not, creating a division within society.
The issue becomes bigger because everyone in our democracy is entitled to a vote, hence, the divide not only secures the political industry for the elite, but it also lets loose a very politically illiterate populace during elections and referenda, leaving us vulnerable to decisions fuelled by misinformation, media spin, and ignorance. If we wish to have and continue to hold on to a healthy democracy, we need to ensure Political Literacy is offered to everyone and not just those in top end private schools.
Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, being politically illiterate isn’t the same as being stupid. When your toilet breaks, you call a plumber (unless you know a little about it yourself). No one ridicules you for lacking in plumbing knowledge. So why do we have such an issue in admitting we don’t know much about politics…
We in Britain must get off our high horse and admit we don’t know much about politics, media literacy and the EU. Why? Because no-one taught us this in school. Being politically literate means understanding what FPTP is, what different voting systems there are. What is a councillor and an MP, what do they do? How are laws created and what is the role of the Queen? Becoming political literate should be a right and a duty of every citizen in a health democracy as only then can we truly use our vote in a critical and engaging manner.
Knowing about the system means knowing how to influence the system. Currently one specific group is heavily over represented in parliament and politics. This is due to many reasons, but one of those is political literacy. Once you gain the tools to understand how the system works, you then understand how to influence it.
Currently, we assume that once we hit 18 years of age we suddenly become enlightened with all the political knowledge one needs to vote and engage. Of course, this not the case, it needs to be taught and understood in school as a compulsory subject. We treat English and maths in very high regard, as two of the most important subjects. However, the one subject that allows us to be who we want to be, gives us a voice and creates a society we wish to live in, we give no time to in schools.
Political literacy would give us, the next generation, a clear understanding of what politics is, how our society works and why voting is relevant and important. We (Shout Out UK) are on a mission to help schools implement Political Literacy in the easiest way possible and we are proud to partner with Napo to make that happen!
Napo will be supporting 10 schools in the running of our Political Literacy programme! The programme covers an introduction to British politics (voting, parliament, MPs), international relations, trade unionism and political theory (left and right wing, international bodies), media literacy (how to critically analyse the media and deal with misinformation) and employability skills (debating and public speaking).
The programme is divided into three courses, which links to KEY STAGE 3, 4 and 5. This allows schools to implement it throughout with ease! Teachers will be able to use our ‘pick-up and go’ resources to run the course themselves, with a series of animations, editable slideshows and full teaching resources to help with delivery.
The world is shaped by those who understand politics, so if you’re not doing politics… remember, politics is doing YOU! We can do better than those currently in power. However, it all starts with Political Literacy.