Piloting the UK Youth FutureProof with young people!

On the 27th of October, nine young people from London attended the piloting session for the UK Youth FutureProof Programme during which IARS delivered training on a module called “Your Voice”. As part of the training, young people were engaged in activities such as “Who wins?” and “Whose Voice Gets Heard”. These activities aimed to help young people to realise what is important when making decisions, how they can use their decision-making power and how their decisions can affect both themselves and others.

Here are some of their thoughts on the training:  

GEN Z- The deciding generation

Biscuits. Yes, that’s right. During our session we were asked, how would YOU go about sharing a pack of biscuits? What seems like such an ordinary question certainly sparked a debate about democracy and decision making, so here is what we learnt!

The biscuit argument demonstrated the significance of reasoning, as it not only affects us, but the wider society we are surrounded by, as there are people who make decisions- we influence during the process of making our own. We also learnt that people need to consider the ‘tragedy of commons’[1] whereby people act in their self-interest which leads to the economic problem of overconsumption, which ultimately would lead to depletion of a good overtime. We applied this to the example of distribution of biscuits how the tragedy of the commons should be avoided at all costs, to ensure fair treatment of individuals. Moreover, we were able to understand how the fundamental economic problem- scarcity of needs and wants (limited resources), influences decision-making. Therefore, people need to prioritise distribution according to whether a good is a need or a want for an individual. We also discussed how the person who produced the biscuits to an extent is entitled to maybe having a larger say in the distribution of biscuits as they put the efforts in the first place to produce the biscuits. Furthermore, the question of ‘who should make the decision’ was further discussed into how it’s a group decision and the group can select an individual to represent the needs and wants of the others, carrying the responsibility and being accountable for this responsibility.

Towards the second part of the session, we were asked a few questions to which we would raise our hands for yes or keep them down for no. At first, we all put our inputs in but then this was put to a halt- only people in our group who had iPhones could vote. Clearly, a chunk of our group was left opinionless- so was the end vote even legitimate?

Through this, we learnt how imperative politics is as it shows the importance of democracy in our real life. We discussed the pros and cons of extending the franchise such as lowering the voting age and how the youth are not ready to make such decisions due to the lack of knowledge and voting patterns and behaviours. We discussed that the issue of the voting age to be lowered to 14 can lead to a negative impact within society. Children have very little knowledge of these aspects, and allowing them to vote may just lead to the election of the wrong person and this can disadvantage us. It could be beneficial, however, if the government educates and campaigns about democracy and provides knowledge, the age of voting can be lowered to 16 or 17. We know that the issue of voting affects us as the younger generation, as a lot of the decisions being made directly impact us, therefore discussions in relation to for example, education and current politics need to keep those affected in mind so decisions should be made for the betterment.

So why can’t we voice our opinions on subjects that impact us? Take for example Brexit. For every one student who voted Leave, six voted Remain. In fact- more than three quarters of all UK students, including those ineligible to vote, stated how they felt negatively about the result.2 Those who felt “very” negatively cited concerns over the economy, a rise in racial discrimination and violent incidents, concerns over visas for study, travel, and work, and reduced funding for scientific and academic programmes in the UK. The youth have clearly proved their interest in politics and reason to take charge of their own future- even in the Scottish Referendum.

After this session, we now are more able to understand how when voting- those individuals who are going to be impacted by the outcome need to have some sort of sensible representation and should be able to vote (as long as they are well informed). We now see decision making differently. Along with the points stated above, we are able to see active decision making as continuously evaluating the possible alternatives and potential outcomes. This results in effective decision making along with active decision-making.

Moreover, we feel the subject of decision-making is vital as the outcome would have huge implications on lives, both at present and in years to come. Therefore, it is important to consider different factors and processes that influence how decisions are made.

We will use the important knowledge, understanding and skills learnt today to ensure we make well-informed and balanced decisions, both at present and in the future when we are able to vote. These skills can be used in our future careers, for example for some of us who want to become lawyers we would make decisions every day. Those decisions of how we approach clients, how we decide to proceed in trials, which evidence should be used, whether evidence should be tested.

In addition to this, we can help others to understand these issues by providing greater knowledge via education to ensure that people understand the importance and implications of making decisions, both in daily life and at a larger scale.

To seek help or support, young people could approach their school or research online to find relevant information that could support them and their needs. If young people wanted to support a cause, which they felt strongly about, they could find youth clubs and youth pressure groups through which they could voice their opinions.

We all really enjoyed the interactive and stimulating session. Thank you for the valuable opportunity.

Written by Divleen Kapor, Virender Kuvankhia and Vani Grover

This is the METAPHORICAL MAP of the learning process created by Divleen, Virender and Vani, and here are their reading instructions:

This map displays the thought process throughout the session. We start off with the main questions of the session: how should the biscuits be distributed? As a group, we all argued different sides, such as whether it should be equally distributed or whether there should be one leader or a collective decision. That is where we were at an ‘orange light’, as many of us had conflicting opinions. For us to reach a consensus, we passed through many speed bumps, ultimately reaching a ‘green light’.

The second question of our session was whether the voting age should be lowered. Again, before we could reach the end out of destination, at a green light, we had to pass many speed bumps and standstills. We asked ourselves questions such as whether the youth are informed enough or whether they deserve a say on topics that ultimately affect them.