Nearly one week on from the EU Referendum and it seems the topic is still virtually inescapable. Whether it went the way you wanted to or not, and whether the fallout is something people expected, it cannot be denied that the chance to make your vote was there. Of course, there is debate around whether the voting age should have been lower but everyone of legal voting age had their chance. I’ve heard some people who didn’t vote say they didn’t because “I wasn’t told I had to register” or “I didn’t realise I could vote if I was out of the country, I wasn’t told that.” My thoughts about this, controversially maybe, are that people expect information to be handed to them far too much. Expecting to be told everything without having to make any effort yourself is unrealistic and with information so easily accessible nowadays, its crazy.
Regardless, the thing with voting, is it is a personal decision. It is not one another person should make for us. It is something which one should make an informed decision about and based on their own personal beliefs and views. I found this an interesting concept when thinking about children. Throughout their young lives, certainly in schools, children are taught to obey. They are told how they need to sit when on the carpet, how to line up, how they should walk around school. For many schools, this is a zero-compromise situation. Often, if children ask “why?” to doing these things the answer may be “because I told you to.” I’ve said this before. Guilty. However, I have been thinking that if children are simply told to do things without any real explanation as to why, they will learn to become passive to situations. They will wait until they are told to do something before they do it. They may become incapable of making decisions for themselves.
OK, so this is slightly extreme. Of course, rules exist in schools because of children’s safety and best interests. I’m a big advocate of discipline as I believe it teaches children respect. However, I have wondered if this passive influence may affect children’s abilities to make decisions in the future. Moving back to this post’s initial thoughts, could it make it difficult for children to decide who to vote for? For so long, we teach children the same things; of course work is differentiated, we have different teaching styles for different children but ultimately, in mainstream school all children will sit down and do English together. Moreover, they will sit down and do this when they are told. They will do maths when they are told. They are told how to behave in certain situations. If all of a sudden they are told to make decisions for themselves, will this hinder their ability to do so?
I feel the crux of the matter here is ensuring that children are encouraged and given the opportunity to know their own mind, to make their own decisions and to know why they are making them. I am going to do this when I start in September, ensuring children understand why they are asked to do something. For example, we don’t just line up silently before going inside because it instills good discipline (although that is part of it). It is because it is good practice in case we ever need to line up during a fire and I need to hear names quickly. Laying this down at the start and asking children to think about reasons for being asked to do something may encourage them to do it, more than if they are just shouted at to do it. It also helps them to develop their own minds and understand positive and negatives consequences for their actions.
I feel like this has been a bit of a ramble, but it is something which has interested me the past few days. I want the children in my classes to not just gain academic knowledge while they are in my class, but I want them to become thinkers who are not just passively fed information and who can grow up making their own informed decisions. I think that is one of the most important things a child can be taught.