Ensuring children understand their futures

Following on from my article mentioning that resonating quote that “We are too much inclined to treat voters as consumers who are are always right, rather than voters who have a civic duty to inform themselves.” I’m increasingly inclined to suggest that people should have to pass an exam before voting.

I’m certainly aware that this is in stark contrast to the Australian system of compulsory voting – which, I fear, judging by both the recent and present incumbent government, does not appear to offer any great solution.

But we could at least require a compulsory civics exam to all those we might give the vote to at sixteen – as a start. It would need to be well thought through, rather than complex – similar for example, to the theory part of the driving exam. Mutiple choice. but concentrating on the practicalities – in this case – of the constitution.

This will, I’d conjecture, encourage a healthy and sceptical view of much of the press critical crassness, of politicians.

I suggest that, like the driving exam, no pass, no drive, no vote.

I hesitate to put forward that we should, like drivers, all take a test (I’m afraid ‘grandfather rights’ would have to take care of all existing adults who have the vote) but it should, for upcoming youth, be a right of passage into our ‘democracy’.

And probably voting should be permitted regardless of the exam results at perhaps, aged 25, with a gradual increase over time in order to indicate the importance of the understanding of our (woefully inadequate) constitution.

I think we would have to consider whether we should increase the powers of proxy voters in order to assist the mentally disabled.

All this would encourage, I suggest, the importance of government and a knowledge of the constitution.

This would be simply a first step in order to prevent our government being taken over and provided by, even further than it has already, liars, charlatans and corrupt politicians.

We really must ensure our children are educated in order to actually understand their own futures!


  1. Paul -


    As I trudged around canvassing hopefully in the last election, I was shocked at the lack of understanding, in Government and constitutional issues, indeed many people did not know that parliament was sovereign, and not the executive (Boris). You are right, there is an educational deficit.

    Surely we should teach civic society and constitutional issues at school…. oh wait a minute Michael Gove and the Daily Mail would define the curriculum, just like Gove’s historic white mans burden and glorious Empire.

    Not much chance of the Tories encouraging universal education, i’m afraid. We shall have to go back to self education and something like the WEA I think. Its been done before, and where I live there is growing support for community education projects, outside of market philosophy academies. Who knows what we can do despite the suffocating Tories.

    Thanks for the blog, onwards and upwards.


  2. Sean Danaher -

    There is no question a well-educated electorate is the best defence against tyranny. I do worry in the current climate that any such programme may more resenble propoganda than objective truth.

  3. Peter May -

    Hopefully – if it were a driving test type theory exam it would have to stick pretty close to the truth to be workable at all.
    Otherwise, I agree, community education is only short-term solution.

  4. Graham -

    I don’t know if you’re serious with this proposal, but it would make the proposed gerrymandering in the UK and the existing attack on voters rights from certain sectors of US society seem tame. The ability to pass an exam is no guarantor that that the passee is a decent person able to make wise or fair decisions – as Boris demonstrates.

    To link with a previous item, voter education should be part of the function of a responsible media – something we don’t have. The BBC was charged with educating, I believe, but as has been pointed out the role of independent educator has been subverted, and now more than ever the BBC acts on behalf of the government and right wing interests. An example was the framing of the financial crash as Labour “overspending” and the celebration of Farage as someone of importance .

    Tom Mills argues in his book, “The BBC: Myth of a public service” that serving the establishment/government was always its function.

    I too stopped listening to the BBC news and current affairs some years ago and haven’t had tv for about 40 years. Some of their “star” presenters seemed “unsackable” no matter how biased, incompetent or just plain rude and stupid they were.

    1. Peter May -

      I am serious.
      Don’t see how it would make gerrymandering seem tame. Any more than a driving licence is lame. It would require people to be educated in their efforts to steer the country and their fellow citizens on a properly thought out governmental path.
      Johnson’s ability to pass in classics is not, I’d suggest, him being educated in the basics of how government works (or, at least is intended to).

  5. Michael Green -

    Watch the early scene in the film Selma, where Annie Lee Cooper attempts to register to vote.
    And listening to our current politicians, I am not sure whether a course in civics would be as useful as courses in lie detection, spotting evasion, and identifying bullshit.

    1. Peter May -

      Too true, I fear.

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