Friday, 15 April 2016

UpRising (Part 2 of 3)

In part 1 of my UpRising experiences blog series, I talked about UpRising as a whole, and you can find it here - http://rantingsandravingsofayoungone.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/uprising-part-1-of-3.html. This is my second part, focussing on the Social Action aspect of the experience.

So the Social Action campaign is the culmination of the entire experience of UpRising. It's the crux, the cornerstone. It's why we were doing the course. 

We split into groups in about February, and started thinking about little (or huge) things we'd like to change in our world around us. 

For me, I always thought the PSHE (Personal/Social/Health/Economic) lessons were a total waste of time. 
Personal education? What does that even mean? 

Social? Same question. Like, our political system maybe? How to vote, maybe? Never taught it.

Health? Mrs Morgan, our beloved education secretary, doesn't believe it's necessary for sexual education to be compulsory, despite OFSTED describing 40% of PSHE lessons as below standard. 

And economic lessons? Being taught about taxes and paying bills, and skills necessary to looking for a job? Sounds amazing and useful. Shame no PSHE lesson I've ever been in has taught me those skills.  

It was infuriating. Lessons that were specifically designated for learning more about yourself and the world around you were reduced to the biggest time wasting lesson ever, for you and your mates to chat at the back while all of our planners were signed. Dull waste of time. 

I thought about this, and considered that I knew how to vote. I know how to pay taxes and about our political system. There were people in our UpRising group who knew more than I did about all of those topics. Why didn't we plan a workshop to take into schools and attempt to address the issue of, quite frankly, appalling PSHE lessons being taught to teenagers today. 

Two other UpRisers and me got together. We designed an hour long workshop, covering matters such as the Conservative/Labour divide, Welsh politics and the Welsh assembly, and how journalism bleeds into politics. What a broadsheet paper is, and what a tabloid paper is, and what potential agendas they may have. The care we have taken to avoid bias is mindboggling. 

On Tuesday of this week, we attended a 'dragon's den' style event with other UpRisers, run by UpRising, with various important lenders and charity sector heads, to present our ideas. It went brilliantly. Public speaking skills and organisation were crucial to fitting our ideas into the five minutes allotted, and we nailed it. 

But I think the best bit of that Dragon's den was to hear other young people around me, bringing out amazing ideas to tackle some awful realities. And it was  quite surreal, sitting there, listening to people who were incredibly shy six months ago, talk about something that they were passionate about and wanted to change. And that was my favourite bit. 

In the future, we aim to get funding to actually take off, to go into schools around South Wales and talk politics, and talk about things that teenagers are really not taught about, things which are vital for becoming engaged in society. If we can get 50 more young people to register to vote, we'll consider it a success. 

But it's endemic of a bigger problem. There are some amazing companies out there who target teenagers to get them engaged in the wider world, Bite the Ballot and Hope not Hate is just naming two. But unless our government, and by extension, our schools, start taking young people seriously, there will be no compulsory politics lessons in schools. More and more kids will reach University without knowing anything about the world around them and the society they live in. The Grey vote will decide party manifestos for years to come, making decisions that represent their interests, and not the future generations of citizens. 

And that breaks my heart a little bit.