Explaining social housing and the economy to young people. Many comments on this now in. See the evolving discussion with young people here.
For a long time I’ve thought and no doubt even said that if you really know your stuff, whatever that ‘stuff’ might be, you should be able to explain it clearly to anyone. Just this year, for example, I’ve been driven to so much distraction by some verbose inhabitants of the ‘social investment sector’ (their description of themselves) that I’ve had to publicly berate them for telling a room of people who actually do things that we need to ‘learn their language’ if we want them to consider investing in us.
I’m saying this because this very week some of my own ‘stuff’ has been put to the test when The Economist asked me if I’d have a go at answering some questions. They run something called The Burnet News Club that’s specifically about involving both primary and secondary school children in discussions about the economy.
So they sent me five questions young people had submitted, generally around the subject of social housing, and today they’ve published my answers. You can read the whole thing here.
Here’s one of the questions, together with my answer:
“Should the price of housing go down for elderly or children ? By how much money ? It will be hard for someone who has a child or is pregnant as they will have to have enough money to have more space. If they were pregnant they would have to need more accessibility because they might be things like stairs they can’t walk on so they need a lift which would cost more money. The same applies for a child . The elderly might need the same but they might not be able to pay for it if they have a job with less money or even no job. They both also need to live near a hospital for birth or if they have a heart attack. What do you think?”
From: Fireball storm | Streatham Wells Primary School
“Your question is very detailed and shows your curiosity about the kind of society we want to be living in. Do we think the kinds of help and support you mention should be provided as a right to everyone who needs help, both young and old? Or do we think everyone should be paying for the specific items of help they need? See if you can be sceptical when thinking about your answers to these questions as you are thinking about one of the main issues in our society today, an issue that is often debated between our politicians. Some politicians strongly believe that our country can no longer afford to support everyone the way we used to. While others think we need to use all of our intelligence and experience to find ways to carry on helping.
If you can have an open minded discussion about this then you will be helping to decide what kind of country we want to live in, as you grow up and as I grow older.
My own opinion is that we need to find the money and the will to carry on helping, because I grew up in a very caring country and I hope you will too.”
But do go and read the rest of the questions, particularly when the young people concerned start to come back at my answers with their own thoughts.
I must say I absolutely loved doing this work. The Economist asked me to be balanced and yet still try and provoke scepticism and debate amongst the young people and I hope I’ve managed to do that. I was given no information about them other than ‘some are of primary school age.’ So I’ve had to write clearly enough to meet my own objective of ‘explaining my stuff’ to anyone. The young people themselves will, of course, be the ultimate judges of that.