Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can’t, Teach.

16 06 2008

Every so often a story catches my eye. So it was the case here. Whilst browsing the various BBC headlines for the first time in about a week, I came across this story. I was taken by it, it is such a simple concept, yet one which remains largely unexplored.

The group of A Level students have taken it upon themselves to petition the PM to create a GCSE option in politics, a subject not available until A Level. I have written before on how young people should be before they get involved in any form of politics. I failed to reach a suitable judgement. There are many problems to the idea of creating a new option at GCSE, especially one relating to politics.

I didn’t study politics at A Level, with hindsight perhaps I should have (although if I had done all the A Levels I wanted to, I would have wound up with about 8). I know many people in my school (granted it was not a representative sample of the population as a whole) who would have loved doing politics instead of the compulsory language, or in place of either Art or DT.

Would a GCSE in politics encourage more people to take an interest in politics? I know I would like to think so, but there is a nagging feeling I have about it. Could it not have the adverse effect? Could it not put people off from a young age? There is the potential, but if the option is just that, optional, surely you would only have people who actually want to study it? At least more than German. I think the option could be a interesting one to have, if only to get more young people interested in political issues. Encouraging them to engage with various issues relating to politics perhaps is a good idea.

The trouble is, how many people would do it? If politics is not something which interests you, making it just another subject, on a par with German or French, or any other compulsory subject that young people dislike might be a bad thing. By the time they reach A Levels, any interest has been sown, and, as more mature individuals, are able to choose their options much more freely, and easily.

So I have my reservations about this idea, but I do admire the students for running with it, and wish them all the best. If you do want to sign the petition, it is available here.

Just one more quick thing. Whilst looking through the Downing Street website I was surprised by sheer number of petitions, which obviously mean something to someone, but, in reality will not get that far.

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