Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Getting Youth to Vote

Getting young people politically involved, informed, and taking the time to actually vote is a challenge.  Here's a new article by folks dedicated to this from across the pond in the U.K.  One way to solve the problem, it's argued, is to integrate politics into the curriculum.
Politics student Shirley Tetteh believes much of the fault lies with the education system. Embedding politics into the curriculum from year three onwards would improve young people's understanding, she believes. "We aren't engaged in politics because we aren't told how it affects us," she says.
In the U.S., of course, you'd probably find yourself quickly enmeshed in one of those tiring partisan debates over what kind of information to provide.

Also voting should be easier, they say.
Alex Davis, 19, turned up to vote but was turned away by polling staff. "I registered online but when I got to the polling station they told me I wasn't on the list. I was supposed to print out the form I filled in and send it off. They said lots of people had experienced the same problem - they didn't make it clear enough."
For those of us who have been voting for a million years in the U.S., it doesn't seem that daunting a task.  But for younger people who see the world in a different -- and digital -- way, then I suspect it seems overly complicated and difficult and somehow involves a thing called paper.

Finally, and this is from my own observations, the news doesn't connect with young people for lots of reasons, including how we (the royal we, as in journalists, not the royal family) craft our stories.  The inverted pyramid, which I love, is not designed to make life easier for someone just learning about public affairs.  It's written with the newest, most important information first, which is fine if you come to a story with a base of knowledge.  Come to it fresh and that same story structure gets in the way more than it informs.

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