163: Should children vote? with Dr. John Wall

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Every once in a while a blog post about ‘childism’ makes the rounds on social media, which is described as being a “prejudice against young people” that’s on par with sexism, racism, and homophobia. But the Director of the Childism Institute, Dr. John Wall, argues that that definition implies children are simply victims of whatever adults throw at them - when actually they are active agents who create meaning for themselves. Dr. Wall’s most recent book is called Give Children The Vote - when I picked it up, I have to admit that I rolled my eyes. I was prepared to remain skeptical…and was surprised to find that by the end of the book, the idea of children’s suffrage actually made a whole lot of sense. Changing our minds…changing the world A big part of what happened to me as I researched this episode was that I changed my ideas about two things I’d long assumed to be true: that we need to protect children from adults who look down at them, and that children shouldn’t be able to vote. As you’ll hear in the episode, my daughter was actually part of this process on the voting topic - we talked about whether she thought she should be able to vote, and she demonstrated the major capabilities that Dr. Wall said children need to be able to vote responsibly. So often we get stuck in a rut of imagining that the way we see the world is The Right Way, and if our child doesn’t see it that way then it’s because they aren’t yet mature enough to know how the world really works. But what if we could see that the ways children view the world - in fact, the ways we used to view the world before we were taught that rational arguments supersede all other kinds of knowledge - as something that actually has value? Not only does it have value, but it might create insights into the challenges we face - from the small ones in our daily lives to the really big ones like what we’ll do about climate change and how we’ll address really big social problems. Our children need us to see and value their creativity, because there are so many other places in the world that don’t value it - and that will squash it out of them pretty quickly. If you’d like to learn how to support your own child’s intrinsic creativity and love of learning, I invite you to join me in the FREE You Are Your Child’s Best Teacher workshop that starts Monday August 29th. You’ll get:
  • A set of five emails over two weeks (including a holiday weekend in the U.S., allowing you extra time with your children to see the methods in action!);
  • All your questions answered in a private pop-up Facebook group;
  • The new ideas, tools, and mindset hacks you’ll need to transform the way you see your child’s learning, and how you support it.

Dr. John Wall's Book

Give Children the Vote: On Democratizing Democracy (Affiliate link).

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Britta, S. (2020). The Children’s Polylogue-Doing Philosophy with Children in Intercultural Encounters. Философский полилог: Журнал Международного центра изучения русской философии 1 (7), 55-69. Retrieved from: https://www.childism.org/_files/ugd/8edd45_91282ebbaf034a3fbdfe322bb4b3156a.pdf
Hart, R.A. (1992). Children’s participation: From tokenism to citizenship. UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/100-childrens-participation-from-tokenism-to-citizenship.html
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Wall, J. (2011). Can democracy represent children? Toward a politics of difference. Childhood 19(1), 86-100.
Wall, J. (2008). Human rights in light of childhood. International Journal of Children’s Rights 16, 523-543.
Wall, J. (2007). Fatherhood, childism, and the creation of society. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75(1), 52-76.

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