Thursday, 29 April 2010

Grit's guide to politics with kids. Rule 4.

In January 2009, the Labour government decided to advertise home education.

They did it quite well. Within four months of their campaign starting, the perfectly legal option of education outside state school was covered in every major newspaper and magazine. It was the subject of TV news programmes. Videos created by adults, researchers, community groups and children blew across YouTube. Twitter and hundreds of blogs blasted out the news.

Another few months saw hundreds of thousands of documents, posters, leaflets, gatherings, picnics, celebration events and letters to lords, ladies, and Members of Parliament.

The home education agenda made thousands and thousands of people aware. Education is compulsory. School isn't.

That activity was a fantastic response. It showed what leverage ordinary people apply in government. We received applause from lords, and we sent bats down the bosoms of baronesses. Our reach went far. We made history.

We'll do it again. And I would say this is the best education in politics I could have given Shark, Squirrel and Tiger.

Rule 4. Get active.

My children did things. They went places. They talked about the issues. They followed the progress of a bill in Parliament. They found out how to meet other people who had different and the same opinions. They found out how people make their voices heard through petitions, arguments, demonstration. They saw how visual and print media worked to support or undermine an issue. They learned about the role of an MP, and how MPs can pick and choose the cause they'll support. My children learned that they can make a difference.

So that's what I recommend. Look at the bills proposed by the government we get next week. Pick one to follow - one that matters - and follow it day by day, as it progresses to an Act. Watch it, read about it, go visit Parliament or your MP. It is by far the most active way you can teach your child about the political process.

More suggestions on how to involve kids actively in politics are over here.

For the moment though we're busy on important matters. Balancing chinchillas on Shark's head requires precision timing.

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