Resource of the Week - Rock enrol - Votes of confidence

16th August 2013 at 01:00
A resource aims to engage apathetic young people with politics

Only A short time ago, 17-year-old Tanile Nsudoh knew nothing of politics and had even less interest in learning about it. Today, she can tell you not only the name of her local MP but also why politics is so key for young people. So what changed?

For Tanile, who attends Shirley High School in Croydon, South London, what changed was taking part in Rock Enrol, a new resource for schools designed to get young people thinking about how voting can give them more say in their own future.

"The experience was really powerful, and I feel as though it opened doors for me - and students in my school - to learn about politics," she says.

The lack of student engagement in politics and voting is confirmed by statistics from the UK's Electoral Commission, which show that 56 per cent of 17- to 24-year-olds are not registered to vote.

But a few years ago, Mike Sani, a former teacher and one of the creators of Rock Enrol, became determined to do something about it. While teaching at Wilmington Academy in Kent, he became inspired by the effectiveness of the Rock the Vote movement in schools in the US.

"In my school and schools around the UK, politics was never taught and still isn't," he says. "And when I asked my students about politics they told me they knew nothing. They were simply uninterested.

"It felt as if young people were embarrassed to show they knew nothing of politics. It was as if they wouldn't vote because they didn't know how to or why to."

So Sani and another teacher created Rock Enrol. It includes a 45-minute lesson plan, "Vote with your feet", with which teachers can demonstrate the power of voting. Students debate a controversial statement, but then half of them are removed from the discussion. The aim of the lesson is to show that, unless you vote, your voice will not be heard.

Then there is "Show me the money", in which the class is split into small groups that have to decide how to spend a #163;100 budget. In the second round, they discuss how to slash it - fairly. The lesson is designed to show students how political matters are relevant to their daily lives and to encourage them to speak up. But it also provides a glimpse into the workings of government and systems of law.

Rock Enrol aims to increase the number of young voters to half a million by 2015. Early indications are that it is on the right path.

For more information on Rock Enrol and to download the classroom resources, visit bit.lyRockEnrol.

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