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Votes for 16-year-olds? Sure, but with one condition

February 16, 2019

Action on climate change is only one of the demands of the striking schoolkids, or rather the UK Youth Climate Coalition, the folks who organised their protest. According to the Guardian:

They also want recognition that since young people have the biggest stake in the future they should be involved in policymaking, and are demanding that the voting age be lowered to 16.

I’m fine with that. In fact, if the 16-18 year group had voted in the Brexit referendum it’s possible they could have spared us the ghastliness we’re going through at the moment by tippng the balance in favour of Remain. Had they bothered to vote, of course.

But I would set one condition. A 16-year old should only be allowed to vote if they can show that they have passed a formal critical thinking test. That wouldn’t sound so preposterous if we incorporated critical thinking into the national curriculum for all kids over the age of 14. Given that it would take about two years to introduce the change in the voting age, that would be plenty of time to update the national curriculum. If they can’t provide their pass mark, they don’t get to vote until they’re 18.

There are many good reasons for introducing critical thinking into schools. Being able to see through fake news is one of them, and being able to resist political or religious indoctrination is another. It’s impossible to tell whether Shamima Begum and her friends would still have left Bethnal Green for Syria if they’d had such education. But it’s entirely possible that giving vulnerable kids the confidence to think for themselves might prevent their radicalisation. And I’m not just talking about potential ISIS recruits. How many kids today are falling for the seductive messages of Tommy Robinson and his ilk?

Just a thought.

From → Education, Politics, Social, UK

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