What do we mean by political education?
Political education is all about wanting, talking about and making change that we want to see in society. This can include the way young people might like to see their society change and progress. This can be a very small change, starting with their Woodcraft Folk group or friends and it can be a huge change for example standing up and speaking out on big issues such as the climate crisis, racism etc.
At Woodcraft Folk we encourage our groups to explore big ideas and to support young people to engage social action activities including campaigning to:
- improve communities near and far
- Fight against discrimination of any kind
- Stop destruction or harm of the natural or built environment
- support vulnerable or disadvantaged groups
- raise awareness of local and global issues
- Make change on topics important to young members of the group
- Stand up for children’s rights
Political education and exploring social change is not the same as encouraging support for a certain political party. Woodcraft Folk, as a movement, aim to link all our actions and activities to our aims and principles which include education for social change, cooperation, working towards living as one world, nature and environment and peace.
Our organisation aims to empower young people to have a voice in society and shape the world around them. In our groups we support young people to grow in confidence and help influence activities. Linking back everything we do to our aims and principles can incorporate pretty much any activity. We encourage our group leaders to make sure to involve young people in programme planning and decision making. This also encourages young people to think about democracy and decision making processes in other parts of their lives.
Have you tried Programme planning using fist-to-five voting a great way to get your group thinking of ideas for planning the term as well as being democratic within the group and voting on their favourite activities.
Another activity that promotes democracy and young people having their say is Biscuit voting. This activity can be done all in one go or could do a round at the end of each group night for a whole term. Resources needed – a few packets of different biscuits. (Make sure that they aren’t too similar). There are lots of different systems for voting. Different ways of casting your vote, of counting them, and of deciding who has won. There are some really great descriptions of different voting systems, how they work and where they are used on the Electoral Reform Society website. Use different forms of voting to decide which biscuits to eat first, you can use our handy guide to different voting methods here.
What isn’t political education?
Political education is not about adult leaders, facilitators or even young people forcing everyone in the group to have the same political opinions. Discussion, debate and disagreement is important for political education as it helps people understand each other’s points of view and leads to critical thinking and evaluation of an issue. This means there is space to create and share ideas for a brighter and fairer future and how we might make those ideas reality.
Who can take part in Political education?
Woodcraft Folk is passionate about empowering young people by asking questions about what they want to know more about and educating for social change. By using this toolkit we hope that everyone can participate in exploring political issues from Elfins (age 6-9) right up to DFs (16-20) by focusing on age appropriate topics and activities to engage young people in critical thinking and thinking about what changes they would like to see in the world.
How can you use this toolkit
Who is this toolkit for?
This toolkit is aimed at group leaders and volunteers working with groups of young people as well as Venturer (age 13-15) and DF (age 16-21) groups who wish to take on leading their own programme to explore political education with peers.
How is it used?
The start of this toolkit helps facilitators to understand what political education is and how we can encourage young people to critically think about and evaluate the world around us. The activities that are threaded into this toolkit have been piloted with some of our young members across the Woodcraft Folk movement and some are from our friends at International Falcon Movement Socialist Education International (IFM-SEI).
The content of this toolkit hopes to give volunteers, leaders, facilitators and young people a grounded understanding of Political Education, critical thinking and education for social change as well as some suggestions for group activities for all ages from Elfin (age 6-9) to DF (age 16-20).
This project has been supported by the Scottish Government with a grant through the National Voluntary Organisations Support Fund