Dr Andy Mycock and Dr Thomas Loughran attended the Annual Conference of Children’s identity and Citizenship European Association (CiCEA) in Prague from 9-11th May 2019. We hosted a roundtable event entitled ‘Preparing Young People to Vote – Lowering the Voting Age and Youth Democratic Socialisation’. The aim of this discussion was to gain insights from internationally renowned citizenship scholars regarding the best approaches for using political education to prepare young people to vote.
We presented evidence from our research demonstrating that young people consistently highlight a lack of political knowledge and understanding as a barrier to political engagement and voting in particular. Our focus groups have shown that young people do not believe their current citizenship education prepares them adequately for voting and they desire more political education specifically. Perhaps more contentiously we have also found that young people have a particular desire for more education on political content and relevant political issues rather than lessons in political structures which they can find alienating.
The roundtable discussed the desirability of providing a higher level of focus on the content of political debate in citizenship education with several scholars of pedagogy stating that this had to be connected to broader principles of engagement and connect with the wider syllabus to reinforce learning. Another key theme was the idea of voting representing a form of fulcrum (or end point) to a programme of citizenship education. With the whole emphasis building up to becoming a full citizen by casting their first vote. We are grateful for these invaluable contributions to our understanding of citizenship and young people’s readiness to vote.