Teaching kids about democracy

My ballot paper for the New Zealand flag referendum came through this week.

Choosing a national flag isn’t something I feel particularly passionate about.

Teaching kids how to exercise democratic rights?

That’s something I feel very passionate about.


So I bought in my ballot for my class to look at and to help me decide how to vote.

The kids watched a few news items about the referendum, looked at the current New Zealand flag, the alternatives and then voted using the same system of voting that will govern the referendum back in New Zealand.


A couple of takeaways:

The kids have very definite preferences and although none are from New Zealand (and only one or two have visited) the made strong connections to black and white being colours that represented New Zealand.

Seeing countries make decisions is something important for kids in the international context who are removed from decision making process by both distance and age.

How might local  education systems encourage children to have more of a say in decision making? The select committee process and local government  are always crying out for public input. Instead of the good old ‘write a letter to the Prime Minster’ teachers should be on the look out to link agencies who want to consult with the community with the children in their classroom. Rich learning is possible on both sides over a longer timeframe.


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