Parliament Week and practical political education


It’s Parliament Week. What do you think about practical political education?

The polls in the Rochester and Strood by-election are due to close at 10pm tonight but the comment and opinion will go on for days. Russell Brand is urging people not to vote. The Scots are more engaged in democratic processes now than at any other time in living memory.

Do politics leave you cold, bored, annoyed, interested or motivated to get involved? The WEA believes in education for an active and inclusive democracy within society  – and within our own organisation – and encourages people to explore these issues.

Political education doesn’t have a very high profile and yet it can have a big impact on our ability to shape the policies that affect every aspect of our lives. Too many people don’t understand how complex political systems work and think their votes and involvement don’t make a difference. Are they right? How can we make sure that decision makers in Parliament and in local government are more truly representative of the communities they serve?

The WEA supports Parliament Week and is a member of the Democracy Matters alliance.

Our new one-day ‘Politics for Outsiders’ courses in the Eastern Region of England are designed to share ideas and discover the difference that politics can make. They will also give opportunities to think about how to engage others in making more of their democratic power in achieving vital social goals. The day schools are a joint initiative between the WEA and the Question the Powerful project and will be tutored by Dr. Henry Tam who is Director of the Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy at University of Cambridge. (For more information see Henry Tam: Words & Politics: ). There has been a lot of positive feedback about his contribution to the WEA Eastern Region’s AGM on the subject of, “‘What has politics ever done for us?”

You can find out more about ‘Politics for Outsiders’ here.

Any other links to practical political education to celebrate Parliament Week?

About Ann Walker
Adult education and lifelong learning specialist and campaigner. LinkedIn:

3 Responses to Parliament Week and practical political education

  1. Thanks Ann I am currently delivering Women Have A Voice in Yorkshire working with a children’s centre in response to local mums feeling unable to fight plans to close their centre. I have written the course using a range of resources including Why Vote and Democracy Matters. We have looked at feminism and democracy and will be looking at campaigning next session. The students are really engaged and already feeling better informed and empowered. This is exactly why I joined the WEA and would love to do this work with young people as well as women. It has also given me the opportunity to spread the word about my work as a Soroptimist. Jane

    • Ann Walker says:

      Thanks for letting me know about this Jane. Hope you’ll let me know what happens at the centre and how the women get on.

      Children’s centres are vital and can make such a difference to giving children a better start in life. We know that community partnerships can also make them a safe place for parents to come back into education.

      Campaigns like this that get people involved in local decisions is very practical political education. More power to your elbow – and theirs!

    • Ann Walker says:

      P.S. I see that 3 Wakefield children’s centres have been now been saved after a campaign, so this kind of activity does make a difference. It’s a shame that another 11 of the original 14 earmarked for closing are still going to go. The loss will affect many families.

      Keep campaigning.

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