I had an interesting conversation with some (mostly Fianna Fáil, some Labour) local activists at the Kildare County Council election count yesterday.
We started with the BNP results in the UK, and I mentioned that it seemed to be due to Labour voters staying at home. Apparently the BNP vote is actually down, but Labour voters abstained in droves.
Then they began talking about Civics.
Civics is not an examinable subject in Ireland, which means it usually gets half an hour a week, degrades into pointless arguments between the students about whatever the week’s hot topic is or becomes a study period if the teacher is bored, and is generally the unloved child in the curriculum.
The prevailing opinion was that if Civics was an exam subject, it would be taught properly, students would learn about citizenship, and more people would vote.
The conversation went on to topics that might be included in the subject plan, and how it wouldn’t be that hard to develop a curriculum (most countries have some sort of Social Studies course we could cog easily enough, adapting to local conditions with modules on Bunreacht na hÉireann, Single Transferable Votes, and the like.