On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made it clear how he felt about Australian students taking time off school to protest.
“We don’t support the idea of kids not going to school to participate in things that can be dealt with outside of school,” he said.
“We don’t support our schools being turned into parliaments. What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”
This week, hundreds of students around the country are ignoring that advice and heading to Student Strike for Climate Action rallies — Canberra held one on Wednesday, Hobart’s was on Thursday, and other capitals held theirs on Friday.
Experts say taking part in activism is “all part of a civics education”.
What’s the impact of activism on kids?
Psychologist and author Steve Biddulph said student activism had very real mental health benefits.
“Scott Morrison is diametrically wrong on this one,” he said.
“Many children and teens are affected by the state of the world with climate and cruelty to refugees and the environment generally topping the list.
“Involvement in helping the world is the key to mental health and making good adults for the future.”
Professor Michael Platow from the Australian National University’s Research School of Psychology agreed.
“It’s all part of a civics education, it’s getting students engaging in their civic responsibility,” he said.
“Schools need to go beyond teaching maths and science because it’s part of a student’s role to engage — they’re required by the state to engage.
“Any democracy wants to replicate itself in the next generation, we don’t want demagogues to come in, we want a citizenship that embraces and engages with a vibrant democracy.”
He said adults shouldn’t let their own views cloud their judgment of their children’s political or social activities.
“We have to separate our own personal values about the topic, from the process of engaging in civic activity. We can disagree with the topic but we can’t disagree with the process.”
– Rebecca Hewett, ABC News
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