Wednesday, 15 July 2009

kids go politics

These past few weeks have been full of excitement.
One of the reasons for this is that I spent quite a lot of my working day a couple of weeks ago organising a visit of the Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy, to a Primary School in the area of Glasgow where he himself went to school. There was some history to this visit: my involvement with the school goes back a little while, having been involved in their Diversity Day last year with a puppet show and film of the making of this puppet show. Which, not banging my own drum at all, I'd highly recommend to watch ;)

This year, we went back in the run up to the UK Budget. As with other schools, we offered a campaigning workshop on child poverty in the UK. In practice this is an interactive and fun one period long workshop that raises awareness of child poverty in the UK and gets pupils interested in doing something about it. We used creative techniques, including drawing and writing massive messages to Gordon Brown.

Of course the Budget looked nothing like we had hoped for. In fact, it was so bad in terms of eradicating child poverty that it was worse than what we had dreamt in our darkest nightmares.

So we were pleased when Jim Murphy offered to visit the school, have a look at their work on child poverty and answer the pupils' questions. I was reserved, hoping that it would benefit the kids rather than be a publicity stunt for Labour. Above all I was nervous, not knowing the man in question and how to play it all.

Thankfully, Mr Murphy is not scary. Nonono, in fact, he's a very pleasant character. Yes, it was his publicity stunt, with 3 newspaper photographers taking over the session and lots of posing. And the posing kind of took over the session which I wasn't all too happy about.

BUT the kids loved it so we didn't step in. We did make sure that the kids got to ask their questions. And what questions! Only children are so direct and to the point, and fair play to Jim Murphy, he answered them all, and in a way that made sense to P5s. You can see, I'm a bit of a fan. My doubts were finally dispersed when he offered to take everybody's questions and messages to Gordon Brown personally, and get a very cheeky drawing of Mr Brown signed by the man himself, and return it to the school.

After the 2 hour stunt, 4 children knew they would want to become MPs. This was in the week of the expenses scandal, so I should say a fabulous success in getting primary school kids from a rather disadvantaged area of Glasgow interested in politics. One girl asked for an exclusive interview for the school newsletter she writes. The answer was yet again a yes.

The expectations of the children are high, and I do hope that they are kept, to keep the flame burning. The children literally embraced politics that day, such pure enthusiasm and delight at getting their pictures taken and maybe making it into the papers (they photos so far haven't been published unfortunately). And the boy whose caricature of Gordon Brown was to make a trip to London and back offered to auction it. And donate the proceeds to Save the Children.

Above all, it was great to see how politics can be translated to 9 and 10 year olds and that disengagement with politics doesn't need to be a given.


Womanatwork said...

Wow, so many adults aren't the least bit interested in politics so to engage with 9 and 10 year olds is fantastic, especially when you consider that they will soon be voters!

Cave Mother said...

What a great thing to be involved in. Well done. That would have been a wonderful experience for those kids.

Domestic Rebel said...

So great to hear about the kids engaging - much better that they got to meet him one-on-one, so to speak. Watching those pompous guys slating each other in the commons is such a turn-off - much better for them to engage with it all face to face.



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